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How to Make an Open Adoption Work

Torie, Michelle, Drayton and Birthmother LauraOpen adoptions can be complicated, as you are essentially bringing together people of varying demographics. The birth parents may be currently enrolled in high school, living with their parents in a lower-income neighborhood, and working shifts at the neighborhood fast food joint, while the adoptive parents might be 35 with a household income of $100,000 a year. Not to mention the unequal power position of the adoptive parents over the birth parents. 

Once the child is born and in the care of the adoptive parents, they have full authority over the child’s life. To further complicate things, both sides are generally dealing with their own loss or grief in varying ways. Adoptive parents quite often have struggled with infertility and miscarriage, while the birth parents are dealing with the loss and heartbreak of having to relinquish their child from their care. All of these factors can make it difficult to make an open adoption work, but it’s not impossible. You just need to know the key component to making it work.

The Key to Making Open Adoption Work

While a closed adoption cuts off all ties to the birth parents, in an open, domestic adoption, both the adoptive parents and birth parents work together. They must be able to bridge the chasm of differences between them to form a relationship that puts the child’s best interests first. 

This can be easier said than done, but the ultimate key to making open adoption work is a strong relationship between the adoptive parents and birth parents. Both parties must be committed, maintain consistent and excellent communication, and let their pride fall to the wayside, all for the best outcome for their child. It will require letting go of fear and insecurity, and not giving up at the first sign of differences or frustration.

What Should You Do if You Don’t Like Your Child’s Birth Parents?

When you agreed to an open adoption, you essentially agreed to a marriage of sorts. For better or worse, you signed up to work as a team with the birth parents to provide the best life for the child. You should view the birth parents the way you view your own biological family. There is likely at least one person you do not like in your biological family, but they are family, nonetheless, and you do the best you can to get along with them and keep the peace. The same goes for your child’s birth parents. You must do your best to get along with them for the greater good: your child. A helpful tip to improve your relationship with your child’s birth parents is to think of one good thing you like about them, and focus on that when you’re feeling frustrated. Remember-your child inherited many traits from their birth parents, and it is important to respect them, despite your differences.

When you’re able to build a relationship with your child’s birth parents that is founded on the commitment to the child’s best interests, everyone wins. Most importantly, your child wins. Keep the lines of communication open and strong, and let go of your own personal agenda. Open adoption, when all parties are working together in sync, can work beautifully.