One frequent question we get asked by prospective adoptive couples is, what does openness look like? There can often be a lot of unknowns and uncertainties about how you will develop and maintain your relationship with birthparents and what openness will look like. Unfortunately there is no magic answer to this question and it all depends on the circumstances of each individual placement. Over the last few years we have seen a change in openness trends, specifically the ways in which birth parents and adoptive families communicate with one another. What used to be face to face meetings has now changed to email contact, text messaging, phone calls, Facebook and face to face meetings. With these changes, we have seen a greater amount of opportunity provided to our families and birth parents to maintain and develop openness in a way that best suits their individual needs.
So what method of communication will work best for you? Well there are some important things you want to keep in mind before answering this question.
1. Most importantly, remember, every situation is unique and different and you won’t know what works best for you until you have been matched and you start to build your relationship with one another.
2. Find a method of communication that works for BOTH of you. Ultimately it will be the birth parents that decide in the beginning what method of communication will work best for them, depending on their level of comfort and acceptance with their decision. For example, many of our birth parents prefer email or text messaging in the beginning as it provides the least intrusive method of contact during what may be their biggest time of loss and grief. Over the years however, together you will find a way in which to communicate that works for everyone involved.
3. Determine how much information you want to share with one another. This can be most important to think about when choosing to communicate using methods like Facebook. Evaluate how comfortable you are with sharing this much information about one another, as Facebook can mean sharing more than just updates about baby and more about one another’s personal lives. However for many of our families this can also be a great way to share pictures and stay connected, especially for those that live far away from one another.
4. Talk about it! Often times the best way to determine what method of communication to use is to simply talk about it. A lot of our families also find it helpful to set out a regular schedule so that everyone knows what to expect. This can help to ease everyone’s anxiety and ensure that all family members are happy and satisfied with the frequency and extent of openness.
5. Remember, nothing beats a face to face visit! Even with all this new technology out there and the variety of ways to keep in touch, nothing can replace the value and importance in having a face to face visit!
Jerri-Lynn Laitre B.HLSC, BSW, RSW
Social Worker, Domestic Adoption Program.