Post adoption contact in the form of a video callAs you move through your adoption plan, you’ll work together with the adoptive family you’ve chosen to create what’s called a Post Adoption Contract Agreement. This agreement states exactly what type of contact you will maintain with the adoptive family and your child once the adoption is complete. The type of contact can include emails, text messages, phone calls, face-to-face visits, social media updates, video chats, and more.
 
The Post Adoption Contact Agreement helps the adoptive family and the birth parents understand the specific terms of their future relationship. The agreement is precise about the number of visits, phone calls, social media posts, and emails. It details the location of face-to-face visits, the length of each visit, and when they will take place. Without this contact agreement, the birth and adoptive families may not have a firm understanding of what is expected of each other.
 
“The adoptive parents were there at the hospital when I delivered and were thrilled! It was hard to watch them leave with my baby. But since I chose an open adoption, I knew this wasn’t goodbye forever. It is more of a ‘see you later,'” says one birth mother, Ashlee.
 

Contact Needs May Change

Keeping in contact might seem straightforward, but navigating the birth parent and adoptive parent relationship can be a little tricky. Post Adoption Contact Agreements are very useful, but all parties must understand that these agreements and expectations may change over time.
 
One birth mother, Lisa, wanted weekly updates with pictures and visits every couple of months. But once she started receiving the updates, she found it too hard to look at the pictures and hear about the baby so often. So Lisa asked the adoptive family to send updates every couple of months only, and she chose to visit once a year instead.
 
Everyone involved in a Post Adoption Contact Agreement must understand that what a birth parent, adoptive parent, or adopted child needs or wants can change over time. Likewise, relationships take time to grow.
 
Some birth parents get to know the adoptive parents during their pregnancy, which gives them a bit of a head start. Some only meet once the baby is born.
 

Be Honest

The most important thing to do is be honest and open. Let the adoptive family know how you are feeling. Are you getting enough updates? Are the updates too painful at this time?
 
Life is not black and white, especially when strong emotions such as love, grief, joy, and sadness are involved. For example, you may have thought you wanted minimal contact and then find yourself yearning for an update. Or, you may find you are not ready to see pictures or receive updates.
 
Share your feelings with the adoptive family or if you find that difficult, talk to your adoption coordinator. She can speak with your child’s adoptive parents for you.
 

Creating a Healthy Relationship

Here are some tips to help create a healthy relationship with your child’s adoptive parents:

  • Remember that it is your child’s best interest that is most important.
  • Share your feelings honestly with the adoptive parents.
  • Make your wishes clear if you would like changes to the agreement and respect the adoptive family’s decision regarding those changes.
  • Be flexible and understand that life creates situations that may change your agreement.

How Does Post-Adoption Contact Benefit the Child?

While you need to decide on the right amount of contact for you, it is also important to understand what it means to your child. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau, post-adoption contact can benefit the child in many ways. This contact can:

  • Help your child have a sense of their identity and who they are
  • Give them important genetic and medical information
  • Allow them to understand why they were placed for adoption, and they can realize they were loved and not abandoned
  • Connect them to their culture and heritage
  • Enable them to relate to birth family members as real people with flaws and strengths and not have overly negative or positive fantasies of the birth family

A Post Adoption Contact Agreement should benefit everyone involved in the adoption, but especially the child. Even if you would prefer not to have contact at this time, think about keeping that door open for a time in the future when you may want an update, picture, or visit.
 

Open Adoption Agreements

A study of U.S. adoption agencies reported that 95% of their adoptions were open adoptions. Every one of those open adoption agreements is unique to those involved in their adoption story. Work with the adoptive family and if you feel you are not getting the results you want, contact your adoption coordinator. She will try and work through the situation with you and the adoptive parents.
 
When working with the adoptive parents, keep an open mind and an open heart. Your contact agreement may change over time due to your child’s age, life events, your feelings, or several other circumstances. Understand that just as you will go through changes in your life, so will the adoptive family. At the end of the day, what is the most important is that all of you put the well-being and happiness of the child first.
 
At Lifetime Adoption, we want you to feel supported in your relationship with your child’s adoptive parents, so we are always here to provide guidance and answer your questions in the years to come. You can always contact your Adoption Coordinator when you need advice or support by texting or calling 1-800-923-6784.

Linda Rotz
Written by Linda Rotz

Linda Rotz, CWCM-S, CWCM-Trainer, ACC, is the Director of Adoption Services at Lifetime. Linda has worked in the field of adoption for 20 years within the child welfare/foster care system in Florida. She has degrees in Mass Communications and Human Development, and completed graduate studies in social work.

Due to her extensive expertise, Linda was called upon to write adoption procedures and training materials in Florida. She is certified as an Adoption Specialist, Child Welfare Case Manager Supervisor and Child Welfare Trainer in the state of Florida.