Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Cardinal Rules of Open Adoption

I've been thinking about all the rules that we as adoptive couples should never break and I thought I would list some of them here (I'm sure there are probably more).  But in my opinion, they include:
  1. Never promise your birth mom, or other members of the birth family anything you can't (or won't) deliver.  If she/they ask you to do something you aren't comfortable with, then say that you aren't comfortable with it and come up with another solution.  Don't ever say yes to something just because you feel pressure to do so, because that will cause you major problems down the line. 
  2. Never go back on your word.  (Unless the safety of you and/or the baby would somehow be compromised.)  This kind of goes along with the first rule- If, before the baby was born, you told her she could come to the baby's blessing, live up to your word and invite her when the time comes. 
  3. Remember that it's not your responsibility to make sure your birth mom is perfectly fine with the adoption or any other aspect of her life.  Let her know that you love and accept her, and let her grieve and move forward in her own way.  Even if it's not the way you would like. 
  4. Don't allow yourself to feel that you are the cause of her grief that she will feel after placement.  You are not the cause of it; in fact, you as her baby's adoptive parent are part of the solution to it.
  5. Communicate with your birth mom.  It's a good idea to verify that you and she are on the same page with important issues.  Also, whenever possible, communicate directly with your birth mom (and not through a 3rd party).  Build your relationship by openly asking questions when issues come up and ask her to share her feelings.  This will eliminate a lot of problems and ultimately allow your open adoption to be an enjoyable experience.    
  6. If your birth mom is pulling away from you, don't pressure her into visits.  If you have a very close relationship, try letting her be in control of requesting visits.  Pressuring her into visits when she's not ready will do more harm than good. 
I'm not saying that we've been perfect with regards to all of these rules (some of them, we learned about the hard way!) so I wanted to post them so other couples could kind of have a heads-up.

Open adoption's #1 priority is to help your child have answers about his/her adoption.  This helps avoid or minimize any feelings of loss they may feel about their adoption.  Keeping at least some kind of contact is preferable, but obviously don't engage any birth family members if they are hostile about the adoption, and/or the safety of your child is in question.

Open adoption is about trust and if you'll notice, all of those rules have to do with trust.  Show your birth mom she can trust you by telling her the truth and never going back on your word.  Trust her by letting her make her own choices with regards to her grieving process- even if that means she pulls away from you.

An open adoption relationship between a birth mom and a couple is so fragile.  I don't think a lot of people realize how fragile they can be.  Protect and guard your relationship and work on strengthening it as often as you can.   Everyone will be a lot happier if you do.  Including you!

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