Giving Grace in Open Adoption

Open adoption often leaves us having to fill in the blanks. A misunderstanding in conversation, an unanswered text, or a missed update… all of these can leave us all playing a guessing game. Not only are we left to our own vague assumptions, it feels easy to point fingers at the other side. Often times, when something feels uncomfortable, our human reflex naturally tells us to walk away. In open adoption, we can’t entertain those reflexes so willingly. As a birth mom, there have been many times where I have felt like the odd man out – the one person in the group that doesn’t belong. That’s not because of what someone has done to me or made me feel like, but because it is the nature of adoption.

Adoptive parents often ask if they should stop sending updates if they don’t get a response. Maybe it feels like you’re bothering her or triggering her, and you just don’t want to inflict any more pain on her. I assure you, there could be many different reasons why you haven’t gotten a response, but you should never stop sending updates unless she has specifically asked you to stop. It’s impossible for us to know what’s going through her mind, or whether she has the strength, time, or energy to send back a response. But one thing I do know, when she’s ready, she will look at those photos, video, and/or letter from you and it will bring her joy and stitch up a little part of the wound she carries.

The open adoption relationship is a highly sensitive one. As birth moms, it’s easy to misinterpret things or read too far into something someone has said to us. We are classic overthinkers, and that’s understandable, because we are not inside the home experiencing the day to day life with our child and their family. It’s easy to draw conclusions that aren’t quite correct. Honesty is the most important thing when it’s time for us to do our part. It’s important to be honest about how things make us feel, even when those feelings are hard to articulate, or we are worried about how we will be viewed. The foundation to any healthy relationship starts with honesty, and we aren’t exempt from this in this open adoption.

Keeping our open adoptions child-centered helps to make sense of the murky gray area of these relationships. Reminding ourselves that there is a reason why we are all connected shows us why it’s so important to nurture these connections. Adoption is for the long haul, and we owe it to our kids to sort out our personal feelings and miscommunications so that we can best serve them. It’s all a part of the process. Give a little grace, be kind and respectful, and love the people in your adoption triad well.