Open and semi-open adoptions rely on communication between the adoptive parents and the birth mother. These are an essential part of the adoption process, but can also be a difficult thing to negotiate with both parties often feeling awkward, anxious, emotionally charged, and not to sure how communicate with one another. This is normal, as both parties want a positive outcome out of a situation which can be born of sadness or difficulty. However, there are some tips that you can use to help ease the process of communication.
Pre-birth/Before the Adoption Process
The hardest conversation is usually the first one, and can be awkward or stressful because both sides want to make a good impression. Below are some tips to navigate this.
- Stress Management: It’s understandable to feel stressed or anxious during the first meeting, but remember it’s stressful for the birth mother too. Try to break this by having casual conversations about interests, and spend time getting to know one another instead of focussing solely on the adoption.
- Location: If meeting in person, choose a friendly location like a small cafe. You don’t want anywhere too loud or busy, or anywhere too private.
- Communication: The birth mother in question may be quite young or quite different from you, but you should also speak to them in a respectful, adult-to-adult way.
- Open: Be open and truthful as much as possible and where appropriate.
During the Adoption Process
- Communication: Keep up with communication throughout the adoption process, as this lets the birth mother know that you care for her and her progress as well as the adoption of her child. Keeping in contact will also help ensure you form a solid relationship.
- Hospital Plan: Have a very detailed hospital/adoption plan and respect the birth mother’s wishes.
- Openness: Discuss levels of openness which both parties are comfortably with both during and post adoption.
- Boundaries: Make sure boundaries are clear, with what is best for the child at heart.
- Communication: Communicate with a focus on what is best for the child’s interests. Be sure to be open and honest as much as possible.
- Flexibility: Wants, desires, and practicalities will naturally change as time passes, so be flexible in your expectations and open to negotiation.
- Give Thanks: Remember, while this is a happy time for you, it is also a very difficult time of loss for the birth mother. Let the birth mother know that she’s in your thoughts with a gift such as an adoption journal.
- Be Assuring: The weeks and months following the adoption are a very emotional time for the birth mother, be sure to assure her regularly that her baby is loved, safe, and happy.
Honesty and Empathy
Overall, the number one tip no matter what stage of the adoption process is to be both honest and compassionate. Let your thoughts, wants, and opinions be known, but also be sensitive to the birth mother’s feelings and situation, and keep in mind that she is giving you the gift of a child at a great emotional and physical cost to herself. Through being open and honest and understanding, you’ll be able to navigate a difficult time with a positive outcome for all involved.