A Unique Relationship

By Kathy Crissey

Adoption STAR’s Director of Adoption Kathy Crissey suggests some important considerations for relationship development between prospective adoptive parents and birth parents prior to a potential placement.

There may be an opportunity for a relationship to develop between a birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) prior to the birth of a child. These beginnings are often the early stages of what will eventually be a life long relationship. The interactions you have will set the stage for further communication and will help all parties involved to begin the process of getting comfortable with each other and getting to know one another. It is safe to say that there are equal nerves on both sides. The birth parent(s) may have fears of being judged, not respected and not understood. The adoptive parent(s) may have fears of a birth parent(s) changing their mind and if it is a young birth parent(s) may feel a need to “take care” of this person. The following list offers some things to remember:

  1. Let the birth parent(s) lead the way. Let them set the tone for the relationship and give them time to get comfortable. Take cues from them about how much involvement they want and be cautious of over-stepping your boundaries.
  2. Use the agency for guidance. The birth parent(s) have a social worker that will be working with them throughout the process. You have a family advocate who will be working with you. Use your family advocate to ask questions and to talk about your fears, excitement, and any concerns.
  3. Have an awareness that this will likely be an emotionally challenging situation and one in which you have no prior experience. Acknowledge that it is hard to be engaged in a process in which you have little to no control. Avoid conversations about this relationship with people who try to give you advice about what you should and should not be doing.
  4. Respect a birth parent(s) right to confidentiality. They are opening themselves up to you and any information you share about a birth parent(s) to family and friends may violate their confidentiality.
  5. Do not judge a birth parent(s). Their lives may be completely different from yours and they will sense if they are being judged.
  6. Follow through with whatever open adoption agreements you have made with a birth parent(s). The birth parent(s) is making a decision to place with you largely dependent upon this agreement. Your life will become busy but there is never a reason to not follow through with photos, letters and visits if you have agreed to this.
  7. If you disrespect a birth parent(s) you are disrespecting your child. Your child comes from their birth parent(s) and they will always be a part of who your baby is.