All birthmothers are different, and the need to have contact after the child is placed in the adoptive home varies.
Some birthmothers want ongoing contact to know how a child is doing and to reassure themselves that they made the right decision. This can take the form of receiving photos and a letter describing the child’s development and adjustment to their new home. It might also include periodic phone calls to share information on the child and how the birth mom’s life is progressing. For some birthmothers, this can include wanting to see their child and having contact with the adoptive family.
Any form of contact should be discussed between birth and adoptive parents during the pregnancy and planning stage for the adoption. Since birth and adoptive parents have contact at this time they can sense the tenor of the future relationship. There needs to be a comfort level, a shared sense of trust, as well as respect for one another’s needs and boundaries.
Some states require Post Adoptive Contract Agreements, which lay out the plan for contact between the birth and adoptive families. This would include in person meetings, phone context, and sharing of information such as photos, letters and medical information. The agreement may spell out direct contact between birth and adoptive families or identify a liaison who will act as the conduit for sharing information. It is important for birth and adoptive parents to remember that as the child grows, they will have their own needs and wishes regarding contact with birth parents. Meeting the best needs of the child should be written into the agreement.
Where a birth parent does not want contact after the adoption, the adoptive parents may still feel the need to share that the child is doing well. They can provide letters and photos to the attorney or agency who helped them with the adoption, which can be held in case the birth parent changes their mind and wants to know how the child is doing.
Some birth parents, who initially felt that the best thing for them was to put the pregnancy and adoption behind them, may change their minds about wanting to know how their child is doing. They may reach out to the attorney or adoption agency who helped them, who will in turn reach out to the adoptive parents. Just because a birth parent wants to know how a child is doing, does not mean that they are changing their mind about their decision. It is only normal to wonder how the child is growing and developing, if they are healthy and happy and if the adoptive family is doing well.
For the adoptive families, when not agreed upon at the time of placement, a birthmother’s request for information or photos may raise concerns. It is important for the adoptive parents to talk to others who have shared information, have semi-open or open adoptions to understand how these relationships work and to alleviate their fears.
The relationship between birth and adoptive parents and their children is unique in each adoption. The adoptive parents are providing daily care and nurture for the child. The child sees them as their parents. They are the ones who provide daily physical and emotional care, nutrition and activities. They are whom they turn to every day for reassurance, guidance and support. The adoptive parents are forever grateful for the gift given to them by the birthparent(s). However, birthparents hold a special place in the lives of the children. For the child they hold answers to the child’s identity and history, will forever be the biological parents and therefore, are emotionally present in the child’s life.
While the decision to remain or not to remain in contact is one made by the birth parent, it is important for them to understand that at some point the child may have questions and want to meet them or the adoptive parents may want to reach out to them in the future for more information.