This is a joyous time for you and your family, as you bond with, and delight in, your wonderful baby. The paperwork, the waiting, the wondering…it’s all behind you! Now the marathon of parenting begins.
In open adoptions, this is also the time when you and your son’s birth parents build a relationship with each other. During your adoption match, you probably discussed how the relationship would work. You’ve thought carefully about the type and frequency of contact, how you’ll share photos, and so on.
You may have even committed those details to paper. This document, called an open adoption agreement, or a post-adoption contact agreement, will prevent misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Families whose adoptions were arranged at the last minute can schedule a meeting or a conference call several weeks after their baby is home, with an adoption professional or attorney present, if possible.
The Birth Mom’s Experience
Once your baby is home, it’s important to understand that, while you are enjoying him, his birth mother is grieving. She will go through the stages of grief that everyone experiences when they lose someone: anger, depression, and, eventually, acceptance.
The grieving process is normal, and you shouldn’t hide your happiness or worry that she wants the baby back. She needs to see the happy family that she’s helped create. If you’ve agreed to initiate contact, you need to send her photos and updates. This allows her to not only see her son flourishing but to see how loved he is by the two of you! Some adoptive parents create websites that the birth mother can check on a regular basis. Others post photos and videos on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.
When you call or email her, make sure to share that you think he’s the most wonderful baby in the world. Your enthusiasm lets her know that she’s getting what she wanted for him when she made her adoption plan: a loving, stable home with two parents.
Stages of Contact
While each open adoption is unique, there are predictable stages in birth mother involvement. Many seem to want frequent contact for the first six months. This can help them through their grief. Some birth mothers seek more contact at this early stage than they anticipated during their pregnancy. Try to balance your needs with hers, but give yourself plenty of time to bond with your son.
After the first year, some birth moms want less contact as they move on with their lives. The pattern holds true with visits as well. Birth mothers typically want to get updates three or four times during the course of the first year but may visit once or twice a year thereafter. If you developed a close relationship with your child’s birth mother during her pregnancy, you may want to see each other more often.
Many adoptive couples have shared that they grew closer to their baby’s birth mother as they worked the first weeks after placement together. When your child is older, you’ll be able to draw upon this closeness to help him understand his adoption story.