Sarah Baker | May 18, 2013 | 10:13 AM
My biggest advice and unfortunately, a lesson I had to learn the hard way, is set boundaries immediately. Often the agency you work with will initiate the first meeting and prepare both you and the birth mother for what to expect in the type of adoption that is being proposed. But, that doesn’t always mean that all parties understand or “hear” the expectations. As the adoptive parent, you can’t allow the want for a child to cloud your good judgment. Getting yourself in a position of not being able to follow through on promises is unfair to all parties, even if it’s by omission. Meaning, the birth parent may express something they want and if you don’t know how to address it and so you just nod and smile, then in his/her mind, you have just made a promise. That is the lesson I learned.
Be up front about everything. How often do they want to see the child and how often are you able to make it happen or feel comfortable with? How often do you want to talk on the phone? How often will you send pictures or letters? Are gifts at holidays and birthdays allowed? All questions you should consider.
It is known today that open adoptions are healthier for the child and the birth parents than the formerly done closed adoptions. But, just because they are more common today and healthier, doesn’t mean they are more understood. People still relate to closed adoptions and family members may not understand the need for open adoption. You may ask them to do some research or share with them the information you learn in your training. It’s rare to find a birth mother who doesn’t love the child she is carrying, so open adoption may be something she is excited about. She may also feel like she loves that child so much that an open adoption would be too difficult for her. Hopefully that’s not the case.
Things open adoptions are not:
• Custody arrangement
• Long term child care
Things open adoptions are:
• Birth parents having knowledge of wellbeing of the child
• Self-identity for the child
• Love and communication
With Ezra’s birth parents, we have what we feel is the perfect amount of communication and visits. At just 4 months old, we have seen his birth mother a few times. On Mother’s Day weekend we invited her and her close relatives to spend the day with our family at our house for a cookout. With social media and text messaging, it makes staying in touch so easy. His birth mother and her family love seeing pictures and videos I post of him and we occasionally swap baby stories and milestones via text. She is so proud of him and loves seeing him grow. She has told me that there is never a day that she regrets her decision and feels we were the perfect choice for him. That melts my heart. I may have had to learn a hard lesson with our first match to set boundaries, but Ezra’s birth mother and I are both on the same page and it’s because we, together, came up with the way we wanted to proceed at the very beginning.