Birth Mother Blog

Nurturing Post-Placement Relationships in Open Adoptions 

Nurturing Post-Placement Relationships in Open Adoptions 

By: Maleah Adams 

When considering adoption, the level of openness (open, semi-open, closed) available throughout the process is entirely up to the discretion of you, the birth mother. And although most adoptions today are considered “open,” the term “open” can mean different things to different people. At Adoption Choices of Missouri we provide you with options for unplanned pregnancy, the assistance you need to navigate all open adoption entails, and the post-placement contact that will work best for both families. Which is care and consideration you may not get at your local adoption agency

What is Open Adoption?  

You may be asking yourself: If I put my baby up for adoption, will I be able to stay in touch with them after placement? Open adoptions, where birth and adoptive families have the opportunity to be in communication, allow you to do just that and are becoming increasingly common. Giving a child up for adoption can be difficult enough, and choosing open adoption can provide you with a sense of clarity regarding that choice. In open adoption, the level and type of communication can vary widely from one situation to another. Some families choose to have regular, in-person visits, while others might opt for occasional updates through letters or phone calls. These specific arrangements are usually agreed upon before the adoption plan is finalized and can be adjusted over time to meet the needs of the child.

The best definition of open adoption is the one that works best for you and your situation. And while there is no single definition for open adoption, most of them fit into two widely known categories:

  • Semi-Open Adoption: Occurs when both parties, adoptive family and birth parents, provide each other with non-identifying information (such as first names) and exchange contact indirectly through an adoption counselor. 
  • Fully-Open Adoption: An adoption in which the birth parents and adoptive family may exchange identifying information (such as personal contact information) and communicate directly.

Understanding Post-Placement Contact 

Choosing to implement open adoption throughout the adoption process can benefit all parties involved, especially the child, by providing a sense of identity and belonging. However, coordinating post-placement communication and visits requires careful consideration, sensitivity, and respect for the boundaries of all parties. Successful post-placement visits require careful planning, considering factors like frequency, duration, location, activities, and preparing the child. Below, we will explore effective strategies for nurturing these precious relationships.

  • Establish Method of Communication: From the beginning of your unplanned pregnancy, it’s important to establish clear and consistent communication channels. Both families should agree on the preferred methods of communication, whether through emails, phone calls, or letters, and set a tentative schedule for updates and visits. This idea provides stability and predictability, which are crucial for building respect and trust among all involved. 
  • Create a Flexible Agreement: While it’s important to have an agreement in place, flexibility is key. Life circumstances can change, and what works for one stage of a child’s life might not be suitable for another. Regularly revisiting and, if necessary, revising the agreement can ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the child and both families. 
  • Respect Boundaries: Open adoptions are based on mutual respect. It’s essential to establish and adhere to boundaries that protect the privacy and emotional well-being of the adoptive family, the birth family, and most importantly, the child. Discussions about what is shared on social media, the types of information exchanged during updates, and the nature of in-person visits should be had early on to avoid misunderstandings. 
  • Encourage a Child-Centric Approach: In all communications and interactions the child’s best interest should be the guiding principle. This includes being age-appropriately honest with the child about their adoption story and recognizing their feelings about their relationship with you and the birth father. Encouraging and supporting a healthy curiosity about their origins can promote a stronger sense of identity. 
  • Celebrate the Extended Family: Open adoptions create extended families that are not bound by traditional definitions. Celebrating this uniqueness can enrich a child’s life immensely. Acknowledging and asking to be included in significant milestones and holidays, when appropriate and agreed upon, can reinforce the child’s understanding of their personal story and the love that surrounds them.  

Navigating Open Adoption Challenges

Even with the best intentions, challenges can arise in navigating post-placement relationships. These challenges can include unrealistic expectations, miscommunication, and life changes. Open communication, empathy, and professional guidance can help navigate these challenges. Seeking the support of adoption professionals at Adoption Choices of Missouri can provide families with the tools and strategies to address these issues constructively. We can offer a neutral perspective on adoption in Missouri and mediate discussion to ensure that the focus remains on the child’s well-being. 

Assistance is Available at Adoption Choices of Missouri 

Open adoption represents a shift towards more inclusive, transparent, and child-centered adoption practices. It recognizes the importance of a child’s right to know their origins and maintains connections that can positively impact their sense of identity and well-being. However, it requires a commitment to open communication, flexibility, and respect for all parties involved. 

At Adoption Choices of Missouri, we provide you with the pregnancy help and adoption services  you need post-placement to assist you in navigating the choice of open adoption. If you have any questions or adoption concerns, please feel free to reach out today.