Although both adoptive parents and birth parents enter into an open adoption with the best intentions, over the years situations and obstacles can arise causing tension in the relationship. Life-changing developments such as divorce, moving, a new baby in the family, and other unforeseen situations can all cause tensions to rise. Problems can also escalate if there are disagreements or boundaries crossed. The relationship between adoptive parents and birth parents is like any other relationship in your life: it requires work and commitment to keep it running smoothly.
Below are some ways to handle conflict and overcome obstacles when they arise.
• Talk about the issue. I cannot stress enough how important good communication is in an open adoption. If you cannot discuss what is bothering you, then you will never be able to overcome it and move forward. Keeping your thoughts and feelings bottled up inside will eat away at you and potentially make the situation worse.
• Listen to each other. Just as it is important to talk about what the problem is, it’s also important to listen and really hear what the others in the relationship are thinking and feeling.
• Take some space if needed. If you need a little space to process how you feel about what is going on, don’t be afraid to ask for a little space. Set a time limit for how much time you think you need and then reconvene.
• Be respectful. Even if you may not agree with what the other person is thinking or feeling, you need to be respectful of his / her thoughts and feelings.
• Avoid blame. Avoid pointing fingers or blaming the other person for whatever is going on.
• Try to remain positive. Keep in mind that every relationship is going to have hurdles and obstacles to overcome. It’s just a part of life and something that we all have to deal with from time to time.
• Keep it child centered. Remember that the whole purpose of open adoption is to provide the child with a connection to his or her biological family and to work things out for the child’s sake.
With effort and good communication, it is possible to overcome any obstacles that may come up in your open adoption.