Building your family through infant adoption puts you on a pretty big learning curve. If you have come to adoption after infertility treatment or an extended time of trying to conceive, you’ve already heard plenty of unsolicited advice, right?
Now that you are starting an infant adoption process — hang on! Guidance is coming at you from all manner of sources – both of the “on target” variety and otherwise. What advice should you heed? To whom should you be listening about infant adoption?
It’s vital to listen to adult adoptees to learn about the wide range of feelings and challenges common to the adoption experience. A birth mother’s voice is another voice worth listening to—especially if you are new to infant adoption. You can learn about the dynamics of open adoption and what expectant mothers look for when seeking a family to raise their babies.
Advice for Building a Bridge
On a recent Creating a Family radio show, one of our guests offered two concise pieces of advice for prospective and new adoptive parents. She is a birth mother who has been in an open adoption with her child’s family for almost 30 years. In those years, she’s seen many changes in the world of adoption. In relationship with her child’s adoptive parents, she has weathered all the life stages from placing to now being a grandmother. Her seasoned, bridge-building approach is a beautiful example of how to craft a strong foundation for your infant adoption.
1. Your empathy can build a bridge.
Remember, the pain and sense of loss that brought you to adoption, such as infertility or child loss, is the same pain and loss the expectant mom is facing as she considers adoption. Both kinds of grief are real and raw, and your empathy can build a bridge between you of that shared experience. Compassion for your child’s birth mother can help you keep the child’s best interest at the core of your growing relationship.
2. Your integrity can and should be part of that bridge.
Be honest and open in your communication. Work hard to keep your promises and be true to your word. Your child’s birth mother should never feel betrayed or used by you to get the family you’ve always wanted. She is facing a challenging time in her life.
Relating to her with respect and honesty is another bridge-builder in your relationship. Your relationship can and will evolve, but your child’s birth mother should always know she can count on you for honesty and integrity with her and your child.
Bonus tip: Don’t forget that the birth father—if he is involved in the relationship—also needs your sensitivity and empathy.
Certainly, there is much more involved when you are continuing through parenting stages to build a healthy, respectful relationship between you and your child’s birth mother or birth parents. We appreciate this approach’s simplicity—it boils things down to one of the essential places to start: with respect.