Communicating in Open Adoption

Reposted with permission from the author Coley Strickland and the Birthmom buds blog.

Open adoptions are relationships and just like any other type of relationship they require work from all involved. Everyone must work together and communicate in order to have a healthy open adoption relationship.

In the beginning of most open adoption relationships, the child is too young to communicate so the communication is between the birthparents and the adoptive parents, so these tips were written with that in mind.

  • Be honest. If something the other person does or says makes you uncomfortable, politely say so. If you are having a really bad day emotionally and can’t handle discussing big topics on that particular day, then politely say so.
  • Don’t over talk. Give the other person an opportunity to talk and share his or her thoughts and feelings as well.
  • Don’t always assume the worst. For example, if you were supposed to receive a call at a certain time on a certain day, do not automatically assume that they want to close the adoption. Situations and emergencies do arise sometimes preventing them from following through with the scheduled form of communication at the scheduled time.
  • If a situation does come up and you can not make a phone call or whatever you were supposed to do, call and let them know what happened as soon as you can.
  • If things come up in your relationship or if there seems to be tension, bring it up and discuss it.
  • If you change your phone number or move, give the others involved a heads up so they don’t call and panic when they learn your phone number has been changed.
  • Be practical and know your own limitations. If you emotionally can not handle a suggested idea, don’t force yourself to try. Politely say that you can not handle it.
  • Respect the other people’s boundaries and privacy.
  • Respect that there may be a difference of opinions and lifestyles.
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One response to “Communicating in Open Adoption

  1. You are right: Open adoption can be a very delicate relationship. I think out of all of these tips, the third is the best one to always remember: Don’t assume the worst. This happens all the time, whether it is the adoptive family or birth parents who are unable to communicate for a few days, it is common for the other party to become anxious.

    It’s funny, the similarities between the adoptive family and birth parents connecting, and dating. Many of the same elements are apparent. The main thing is to be yourself, give the other party the appropriate amount of space, and know that everything will work out as it’s meant to be in the end.

    Thanks for the great post!
    – Dustin Freund

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