When it comes to adopting a baby, no two adoptions are the same. Each birth parent and adoptive parent has their own set of wants and needs, and the adoption experience is adjusted to match those preferences.
For instance, some families choose semi-open adoption, a process where an adoption professional mediates contact between the two parties. The adoptive family sends pictures and letters through that professional, who then passes these on to the birth parent.
At least, that’s how they typically unfold.
Michelle, an adoption professional at American Adoptions, handles everything when it comes to post-adoption contact. In the case of semi-open adoption, she ensures that everything an adoptive parent sends her way goes to the birth parent. Sometimes, though, things aren’t quite that simple.
One adoptive family maintained communication and sent updates to the birth mother, and they knew that she wasn’t getting them. After nine years, though, she responded.
Holding on to Hope
In this case, the birth mother didn’t feel emotionally ready to receive those updates, so she waited until she was ready.
“She wanted to be able to be in a healthier place to get them so she could be excited and be happy about getting them,” Michelle said. “She didn’t want to feel sad about it. She wanted to feel happy and be able to get to a place where, emotionally, she could handle it in a better way, as far as getting those updates and reading and seeing how things are going.”
When she was ready, she was surprised in the best way imaginable.
When she reached out to American Adoptions and updated her contact information, she realized that she had nine years’ worth of updates on her child. Even though the adoptive family knew she wasn’t getting them, they had continued to send updates because they were hopeful that, one day, she would see them.
Holding on to that hope proved to be worth it. The birth mother was beyond moved.
“It was knowing that all these years, they thought about her and cared about her, and they kept their promises to send them in even though they knew she wasn’t getting them,” Michelle said. “She was just ecstatic. That’s really nice to hear, which some agencies may not get to hear that if they don’t facilitate any of that post-adoption contact.”
Benefits of Working with American Adoptions
One of the unique benefits of working with American Adoptions is the picture and letter department. Michelle is one of the people who works in this part of the agency, and she facilities communication between birth parents and adoptive parents. This allows them to establish and maintain a lifelong bond.
Michelle is also a birth parent herself, and our staff comprises birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees. In other words, we can relate to what you’re going through.
“That’s something that I think is a huge benefit here, for adoptive families and birth parents to have that person they can connect with,” she said.
American Adoptions’ team members take the time to explore the relationships between adoptive parents and birth parents. They figure out how to keep everyone connected and sustain that connection.
“That’s something that I think our agency is unique in doing that other agencies don’t really have,” Michelle said.
Updating Contact Information
For both adoptive parents and birth mothers, it’s vital to keep contact information up-to-date. This is partly why, in this instance, the birth mother didn’t receive any updates for nine years. She didn’t have her correct contact information on file, but this was because she wasn’t emotionally ready to receive those updates. In most cases, updating contact information will simply slip birth parents’ minds.
They could forget American Adoptions’ phone number. They could lose the agency’s number over time. Or, they might move and forget to update the information. In some instances, birth parents will update their contact information with the post office and not American Adoptions.
“We’ve had birth parents who have become homeless or gone to jail, and they didn’t have a way to contact us,” Michelle said. “Their phones died, and they don’t have a way to pay for their phone bills. Most of the time, it’s just not remembering.”
Keeping Promises And Building Trust
Although life can get busy, it’s important to update contact information. From a general standpoint, keeping promises in semi-open and open adoption is not only respectful, but it is also best for the child. At the end of the day, looking after your child’s well-being is the most important part of any adoption process.
“When the child wants to know more information, it’s great to be able to have a connection with the birth parents, whether it be through us or through the family having that contact directly,” Michelle said. “It’s nice to be able to go to that birth parent and say, ‘Hey, the family would love to know this information’ and be able to get that because, ultimately, it’s for the child.”
Semi-open adoption may be best for some people, but it is also important for expectant mothers and potential adoptive parents to consider more openness in their adoption. It helps the child have a better understanding of their story, their birth parents and more. When it comes to medical history and genetics, more openness tends to be immensely beneficial.
“Kids are really curious,” Michelle said. “They want to know, ‘Who do I look like? Do my birth parents like to play sports? Do they like to write? Do they like to play music? What kind of music do they listen to?’ These are things they can get answers to a little bit quicker than sending pictures and letters and hoping they respond.”