Semi-Open vs. Open Adoption
The type of communication you will have with the birth mother depends largely on the degree of openness in the adoption. In a semi-open adoption, adoptive parents and birth parents have limited in-person interaction – primarily before the birth. Most post-adoption communication takes place via pictures and letters. In an open adoption, meanwhile, the channels of communication can vary quite a bit, but the outcome can be very rewarding for everyone involved. What results is a positive and affirming relationship where birth parents and adoptive parents work in unity to create a healthy foundation for their child.
So, it is important that all parties feel comfortable communicating, which can be awkward or difficult at first. But after some time and effort, your relationship will grow to become strong and meaningful for all involved.
Communication is key to any good relationship.
How to Talk to the Birth Mother
“Adoptive and birth relatives who engage in contact need flexibility, strong interpersonal skills, and commitment to the relationship,” especially in an open adoption, says researchers Harold D. Grotevant et al. “These skills can be learned, and they can be supported by others, through informal, psychoeducational, and therapeutic means.”
So, here are a few tips to help you connect with the birth mother.
Coming to an Agreement
When thinking about contact and communication with the birth mother following adoption, it is important to consider all possible scenarios. “Type of contact can include the exchange of pictures or gifts; communication via e-mail, letters, Skype, or telephone; and face-to-face meetings,” says researchers Harold D. Grotevant et al. Because there are so many possibilities, it is often a good idea to agree on communication methods moving forward. An adoption plan will not only help streamline the adoption process and subsequent communication, but will also lead to a better overall relationship.
“Birth mothers who were more satisfied with their contact arrangements, regardless of level of contact, had less unresolved grief 12 to 20 years after placement,” says researchers Harold D. Grotevant et al.
Relax & Be Aware of Your Body Language
The most important thing you can do is relax, especially during your first meeting. Remember, about 80% of communication is body language. Make sure your actions, movements, and expressions accurately express what you wish to convey to the birth parents. Make and keep eye contact and speak directly to the birth parents. After all, they are the ones giving you this amazing gift.
Acknowledge the Gift
Carrying a baby for nine months and then giving him or her to another family can be an emotionally draining process. It is important to acknowledge this gift and show your appreciation. This will help set the foundation for the relationship moving forward. When you view the adoption as receiving a loving gift, you are more relaxed around them, making communication natural.
Remember, no matter what your backgrounds may be, both parties share at least one thing in common: the belief in the wonders of adoption and the love of a child. Keeping this in mind helps you realize that communication with birth parents is about the love you will all share.
A great way to build any relationship is to ask questions. Some good topics to ask birth parents include:
- Health, well-being
- New changes, exciting news
- Recent events or fun activities
- Interests and hobbies
- How do birth parents want to be described to the adopted child
- What wishes do birth parents have for the adopted child
Ask if you may take notes so you remember things and so you can share things with your child over the years.
When the birth mother is talking, be an active listener to show you are engaged in the conversation. You want them to know you’re listening and you’re interested in what they have to say. Birth parents may have a lot of exciting things to share with you, or even concerns. Listen closely and engage in the conversation to learn more about their thoughts, feelings, and even fears. Active listening builds a good relationship built on trust.
Adoptive Parents: Getting Started
The adoption process begins with a telephone call to one of our staff who will advise you on the steps necessary, followed by both an Application and Home Study. Once the home study application is reviewed and accepted, Adoption Makes Family will work with you every step of the way to help you realize your dream of a loving family.
Birth Parents: Creating an Adoption Plan
At whatever point birth parents decide to explore an adoption plan, a birth mother or birth mother and father starts working with an agency such as Adoption Makes Family to create an adoption plan. We are here to listen, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Adoption Makes Family is a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland. Our experienced professionals can help and counsel you so that you make the best decisions for your future. We simply want what is best for you and your baby, whatever outcome that may be.
Call Us Now at (410) 683-2100
If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our online contact form.
Adoption Makes Family was founded to meet the needs of birth parents and adoptive parents in a manner that is sensitive, compassionate, and personal.
- “Communicating With Adoptive Parents.” Adoption Network, adoptionnetwork.com/unplanned-pregnancy-the-ultimate-guide-to-adoption/communicating-with-adoptive-parents.
- “Communicating With Your Birthmother.” Angel Adoption, Angel Adoption, Inc., www.angeladoptioninc.com/communicating-with-birthmother/.
- Grotevant, Harold D., et al. “Contact Between Adoptive and Birth Families: Perspectives From the Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project.” Child Development Perspectives, vol. 7, no. 3, Dec. 2013, pp. 193–198., doi:10.1111/cdep.12039.