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Tips for a Successful Open Adoption

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Open adoption, in which there is some level of communication between the birth parents and the adoptive family, is becoming an increasingly popular form of infant domestic adoption and older child adoption in the United States.

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Tips for a Successful Open Adoption

  1. 1. Tips for a Successful Open Adoption Open adoption, in which there is some level of communication between the birth parents and the adoptive family, is becoming an increasingly popular form of infant domestic adoption and older child adoption in the United States. Adoptive families are sometimes intimidated by the prospect of retaining a connection with the birth parents. However, healthy open adoptions can provide the adopted child with an essential link to the past, and can provide many other benefits to both birth mothers and adoptive families. Following are a few steps you can take to forge this kind of strong and beneficial relationship. Get to know the birth parents. Often, adoptive parents' anxiety over open adoption stems from their lack of knowledge about the birth parents. In this vacuum, it is easy to construct all sorts of frightening and unrealistic scenarios (such as the birth mother taking the child back). Alternatively, the adoptive parents may feel too intimidated by the idea of the birth mother and/or father to establish healthy boundaries that would benefit everyone involved. The best way for you to dispel these anxieties and inaccuracies for yourself is to get to know the birth parents. Your agency can help you set up this meeting and mediate it as well. By meeting with the birth mother and/or father can allow you to see them as the human beings they really are, with their own sets of strengths and weaknesses. Once you have your fears put to rest, you will be better equipped to build a foundation of trust with the birth parents, and you will be better informed when setting boundaries within the open adoption.
  2. 2. Establish a plan ahead of time. Another way to establish a healthy open adoption is to agree on a plan ahead of time. One of the adoption programs in San Antonio can provide birth parents and adoptive couples in the San Antonio area like you with guidance and support as you develop this plan. There are a few things to keep in mind when forging this initial plan. The first is that you, as the adoptive couple, need to establish an arrangement with which you are comfortable. Creating an agreement that includes arrangements that make you uncomfortable may lead to tension and regrets down the road. The plan can always evolve and change as trust grows between you and the birth parents. Developing an open adoption plan with which you are comfortable may mean you start small. Working out as many details as possible ahead of time such as how contact throughout the year is to be handled such as if either side is comfortable with phone calls, or if everything is to be done through email will help with things in the future. In the beginning emails and cards may be easiest, and then as trust develops, you may feel more comfortable accepting phone calls and texts, etc. You can always move to one or two supervised visits a year with the help of your agency if this a service they provide and then move to unsupervised visits once you feel comfortable. Every relationship between an adoptive family and a birth family is different, there are no set rules or prescribed time period that a family needs to follow. Go with what feels right for your family. In addition, it is important to forge an arrangement that both you and the birth parents can agree upon. Often, one of the factors that the birth mother will take into consideration when choosing you as her child's adoptive parents is whether or not you have similar ideas about how the open adoption should precede. Being on the same page is vital for the open adoption relationship to work for everyone involved.
  3. 3. Set boundaries. Once the open adoption is in place, you should also feel comfortable setting and enforcing boundaries when necessary. For instance, you may find that the birth parents are exceeding the limits of the open adoption plan and that you are not yet ready to change the plan to allow more contact. Other unforeseen circumstances may also arise that would require you to set boundaries. In these cases, you may need to remind the birth parents of the arrangement or create some distance between yourselves and the birth parents. You, as your child's adoptive parents, should feel comfortable setting boundaries when necessary. At the same time, you should also remain aware of the fact that birth parents and your child can still benefit from open adoption even in less than ideal circumstances. If faced with a challenging aspect of your open adoption, you may benefit from utilizing the post adoption services of your adoption organization to get guidance regarding how to navigate that challenge. Communicate openly. Open and honest communication is essential in any relationship. The relationships that take place within open adoption are no different. For instance, even after you set up an open adoption plan, you should remain in communication with the birth family as circumstances, opinions, and feelings on both sides change over the course of your child's life. It is this type of honest communication that can allow the open adoption relationship to evolve in a way that continues to meet everyone's needs over the long term. Be open to change. Finally, the most successful open adoption relationships succeed because of flexibility. As an adoptive family, you should remain open to the possibility that the initial adoption plan might change. There are many reasons this may happen. For example, as you get to know the birth parents, you may find
  4. 4. that you are more comfortable with them, that you trust them, and that you are willing to allow greater contact between them and your adopted child. In another instance, a birth mother or father who used to be an addict may beat their addiction and become stable enough to handle more visits. When determining how an open adoption plan should change, your goal should be to create the plan that will most benefit your child. For instance, perhaps your child's increasing interest in their roots might mean that monthly instead of yearly visits will be beneficial. By keeping your child's needs first, you will be better equipped to handle the changes and adjustments that may need to be made over time. An open adoption can provide your child with essential connections to their birth family. A healthy open adoption relationship, in fact, can be a great gift to your child and to their birth parents. By meeting the birth parents ahead of time, arranging an initial open adoption plan, setting boundaries, communicating openly, and maintaining flexibility, you can enjoy this type of open adoption relationships for the long term.

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