Building the Birth Mother and Adoptive Parent Relationship

When a woman chooses adoption for her baby, it is common for her to have contact with the adoptive family throughout her pregnancy and after placement. But how can you get to know the adoptive family? This guide explores some ways to build a relationship with the adoptive family.

When you make the life-changing decision to place your baby for adoption, you are doing so out of love and care for your child. You want your child to have the best opportunities throughout their life. To help ensure these goals are met, you can meet couples that want to adopt, so you can be sure you are finding the best adoptive family to place your baby with.

Finding the right family is an important choice that impacts the entire adoption experience.

To ensure you find the perfect adoptive parents for your baby, you will probably want to ask them questions to get to know them better. But understanding the right questions to ask adoptive parents can be difficult. Knowing what interview questions for adoptive families to ask will help you narrow down the decision-making process to get a better feel for the family and make a decision.

Selecting a family to place your child with is one of the most exciting decisions throughout the adoption process, but it is natural for birth mothers to still have concerns.  You might be thinking:

  • “How will I get to know the adoptive family?”
  • “How should I talk to the adoptive family?”
  • “How can I continue to build a relationship with the family after placement?”

These are just a few of the most common questions you may ask while trying to find the best adoptive family for your child. Although each adoption situation is unique, there are general thoughts and concepts on the best way to get to know the adoptive family and to build a lasting relationship with them.

Continue reading to learn more about these concepts and for other helpful information about getting to know the adoptive family.

Pre-Placement Communication with the Adoptive Family

When you communicate with the adoptive family before your baby is born, it is considered “pre-placement contact.” As you create your adoption plan, you determine the amount and type of contact you would prefer to have with the adoptive family. The type of communication may include:

  • Email
  • Text
  • Phone calls
  • Video chat
  • Face-to-face meetings
  • And more

With the majority of adoptions today being open or semi-open, maintaining open communication is a key element to a successful adoption. This communication helps answer questions you (and the adoptive family) may have, gives a true representation of everyone’s personalities and emotions and is essential in growing the adoptive parents’ relationship with the birth mother.

But as you start getting to know each other through this pre-placement contact,how do you determine what type of questions to ask adoptive parents?

Many birth mothers compare the first few interactions with an adoptive family almost like a first date. There is nervousness, excitement and potentially even some awkward moments, all of which is to be expected. It is worth noting that just as much as the adoptive family should be sensitive to your needs and feelings, you should do the same for the adoptive family.

We suggest you avoid asking specific personal questions about the adoptive family’s journey that has led them adoption. With many families choosing adoption after years of struggling with infertility, it is best to avoid this topic until they are comfortable discussing their situation openly.

Each situation is different, so there aren’t necessarily any “perfect” questions to ask an adoptive family or suggestions on how to communicate, but there are general questions or topics you may wish to ask, which should help get conversations started. Below are a few suggestions:

  • Ask general questions – what are their hobbies? What are their favorite movies? What are the best places to eat in their area? How did they meet each other? These are just some of the open-ended questions to ask adoptive parents. Good questions to ask adoptive parents tend to spark conversation and are not overly invasive or personal. Showing interest in wanting to learn more about their lives is a great way to build trust and is also stepping stone toward creating a meaningful relationship.
  • Determine everyone’s comfort level – with technology making communication readily available at nearly any point, you want to make sure everyone is comfortable with the type and level of communication taking place. This will help build trust and keep boundaries in place.
  • Open up – don’t be afraid to talk about yourself! They will want to learn just as much about you as you do them. Just like they give their opinions and share stories, you can do the same. Mention your hobbies, your family, favorite foods, shows and more. Some birth mothers are comfortable enough to discuss details of their pregnancy. Go with the flow of the conversations and discuss whatever you are comfortable with.
  • Relax – at the end of the day, the adoptive family are people who have the same goals of making sure your child grows up with the best opportunities at life. This is most likely a new experience for them, so they too have similar thoughts, concerns and questions. There is no need to be intimidated or overwhelmed; this is the beginning of an exciting and important new relationship!

The goal of pre-placement contact is to begin forming a relationship with the adoptive family and open the opportunities for communication. Understanding these goals, and working towards achieving them, helps the overall success of the adoption process.

To get more information about pre-placement contact and communicating with the adoptive family, contact an adoption specialist here.

Building a Relationship with the Adoptive Family Post-Placement

During pregnancy, communication with the adoptive family is key to helping you relate to each other, as well as answering any questions either party may have throughout the process. After you have delivered and placement is complete, the level of communication will depend on the types and frequency of contact you and the adoptive family agreed upon during the planning process.

No matter how much or how little communication is involved, building and maintaining a relationship with the adoptive family positively impacts the entire adoption experience.

Post-placement communication can happen in many ways, and just like pre-placement contact, it is up to you to decide how you’d like to proceed. For example, you may choose to receive photo and letter updates of your child a couple times a year. In a more open adoption, email, text, phone calls and video chats are all options, as well as scheduled in-person visits and completely open contact.

Much like pre-placement communication, it is important to maintain respect and boundaries as your post-placement communication evolves. During placement, as well as the weeks and months following, can be a very emotional time for everyone involved. Oftentimes, birth mothers and adoptive families will need time to adjust to their new lives.

Giving space and showing patience and empathy are all gestures that build trust and are greatly appreciated.

Although a closed adoption without any post-placement communication is a possibility, there are numerous benefits of pursuing some level of openness in your adoption. Open and semi-open adoptions allow the opportunity to remain updated and, in many cases, directly involved in your child’s life. This reason is a large factor into why the majority of adoptions lean toward including some form of openness.

Strengthening Your Open Adoption Relationship

Navigating an open adoption may be difficult at times and will take work from everyone involved to help form a relationship. As previously stated, each situation is unique and different challenges may arise. While every adoption is different, there are some common things you can do post-placement to continue strengthening the connection you have with the adoptive family. Here are a few:

  • Respect boundaries — both sides are going to be experiencing different emotions. Do not overwhelm the adoptive family. Try to stick to the agreed-upon communication and get a feeling for everyone’s comfort levels. Similarly, if you feel like the adoptive family isn’t respecting your boundaries, or if you decide you need to create new boundaries after the adoption, it is OK to communicate that to the adoptive family. Your adoption professional can help you with these conversations if you need it.
  • Encourage the adoptive family — you are both in this together. Odds are, they are experiencing something brand new in becoming parents. They will have doubts, concerns and questions. If you can, provide them with words of encouragement, support and trust to let them know you fully believe they are doing great.
  • Be willing to adapt — life is constantly changing. As your baby grows, the needs and desires of everyone in the adoption triad may change. Being willing to adapt to these changes is important, as it shows you want what is best for the child and are willing to work with the adoptive family throughout these changes. Some seasons may involve more communication than others.
  • Trust the adoptive family — you have provided the adoptive family a gift that has changed their lives. Trust that they are willing to work as hard as you are to have a post-placement relationship that functions and grows as best as possible.

These are just a few things you can do to help form a connection with the adoptive family.  But, you’re only half of the equation. Keep in mind the family has to be willing to work toward a relationship as well. Trust the agreement you made during your adoption planning and the ultimate feeling that led you to choosing to place your child with this family.

The relationship you have with the adoptive family will impact the overall outcome of the adoption.

Being prepared for what to expect can help ensure a smooth transition from pre- to post-placement communication and a lasting relationship. To learn more about ways to work toward a healthy relationship, get ideas for questions to ask adoptive parents, or discuss any concerns you may have about your pre- or post-placement communication, contact an adoption professional.