Adoption can be a beautiful thing, but it can also be messy at times. There is a lot of heartache and loss that surrounds adoption. Many adoptive parents go through feelings of loss before turning towards adoption to build their family or while in the adoption process. And for birthmoms, adoption begins with the loss of the child. And even in an open adoption, where a birthmom still has some type of ongoing relationship with her child, there remains the loss of her every day motherhood.
While open adoption relationships can be healthy and positive, especially for the child, birth parents and adoptive parents don’t always see eye to eye. This can cause tension, stress, and strain in their open adoption relationship. Things may be said or done (most often unintentionally) that can cause the other party to feel hurt. All of this can cause the relationship to become damaged.
The relationship between adoptive parents and birthparents requires work, commitment, dedication, and love for it to be a positive relationship and thrive. This relationship can ebb and flow through good times and bad, just like any other relationship. Sometimes we forget that adoptive parents and birth parents are just people with emotions and a past trying to come together for the love of one shared child.
So, if your relationship with your child’s birthmother has become strained and damaged, what can you do to repair it? Here are some suggestions:
Make the first move. I know, it’s scary and vulnerable to be the one to make the first move, but someone must do it. Reach out to your child’s birthmother in a non-threatening, casual way.
Approach her in love. When the time is right and you reach out to your child’s birthmother, do it with love and grace so she doesn’t feel attacked.
Make boundaries clear & be respectful. Sometimes the lines are blurred because boundaries aren’t clear. Discuss your feelings about your relationship in a respectful way. Make sure to be honest with your child’s birthmother, and take her feelings about boundaries and expectations into consideration.
Avoid blame & admit fault. If you did or said something to upset or offend your child’s birthmother, admit it to her and apologize. Often just hearing that you didn’t mean to and are sorry is all it takes to get things back on track.
Consider mediation. If things are really bad, you may wish to consider mediation with an adoption professional such as your adoption social worker. He or she can be present while you discuss things and try to get your relationship back on track, making sure you each get a turn to speak and are heard.
Keep it about your child. If things are becoming strained, as hard as it is, try and take your emotions, and even yourself, out of it. Make it about your child.
Move forward and forget the past. As you begin to repair your relationship and start anew, don’t dredge up past arguments or incidents. Forgive, forget, and move forward.
The relationship with your child’s birthmother is very important. It is definitely a relationship worth fighting for. Remember, you are doing this for your child.