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Handling Communication with Birth Parents in an Open Adoption

which adoption type is best for youTrends in adoption tend to come and go and change as societies attitudes do. Currently, domestic adoption agencies have noticed a marked increase in open adoption in recent years. While this style of adoption certainly has benefits over closed adoption for birth families and adoptive families alike, it can also have some hefty challenges which will need to be navigated for success. 

In this article we’ll be take a look at what open and closed adoptions mean, the challenges you might face, as well as how to handle some of the common difficulties you might face along your adoption journey.

Open Adoption Vs. Closed Adoption: What Does this Mean?
Closed adoptions is considered the ‘traditional’ form of adoption, and is still the most common form of adoption both internationally and domestically. With a closed adoption, when a birth mother/family places their child for adoption with an adoptive family, they no longer have contact with the child – think of it like a door closing. 

In an open adoption, however, this metaphorical door is left open, allowing contact and communication between the birth family and adopted family. This contact can vary, with some birth families requesting updates and letters, whereas others might wish for phone calls or regular visitations. This type of adoption is most prevalent in domestic adoption, but can occur in international adoption too!

The Challenges
The challenges you might face as part of open adoption may vary, as each situation like each child is unique. However, some of the common issues you might face include:

  • Decisions
  • Disagreements
  • Communication
  • Situational changes

Decisions & Disagreements

The first few months or even years of the open adoptions are when a lot of decisional challenges may occur. One of the largest issues which can occur in the early days is what the birth family should be called. The birth parents, for example may wish to be recognised as mother and father, but this could cause challenging clashes for the child, and will need to be discussed and navigate successfully. Issues around social media and sharing of the child’s image or information surrounding the child may also be a topic that both families will need to discuss. 

To overcome this, both families should be willing to be flexible with their wants, needs, and desires, and try to be understanding of the thoughts and feelings on the other side of the table. 

Communication and Situational Changes
Challenges around communication and breakdowns in communication can also be difficult. If one party isn’t doing their part, it can put a strain on the other and vise versa. Some birth families may want communication with the adoptive child that is unrealistic, and the same can be said for the adoptive family. 

All these challenges will need to be negotiated for adoption success, through strong communication, openness, and honesty. Both families should ensure that everyone’s thoughts and feelings are validated, and issues aren’t repressed or ignored. 

With the correct communication, families can form a strong bond and become a powerful unit, centered around raising a child in the best and most loving way possible. This strength can conquer all challenges which open adoption can pose, such as situational changes, or disagreements.