An open adoption is one in which the birth mother shares information with and meets the adoptive parents. The birth parent and the adoptive parent or parents have a mutually agreed-upon plan for keeping in touch in the future. The details of the open adoption plan will be different from one family to another. Any adoption in which the birth mother is not anonymous is an open adoption, but the amount of contact can vary. The birth mother might get an occasional photo or letter from the adoptive parents, or she might become a member of the family.

If you decide to have an open adoption, there are many ways adoptive families and birth parents can stay connected, depending on the comfort level and agreements established by all parties involved.

Communication channels

Regularly exchanging letters or emails with updates, photos, and milestones in the child’s life is a common way to maintain contact. Phone calls allow for more personal interaction and conversation. As the child grows, the birth parent might interact directly with the child, or the connection can remain between the birth parent and the adoptive parents.

Video calls can be a great way for birth parents to virtually see the child and connect in a more interactive way. Services like Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams allow  a remote connection.

Some families share photos and updates on private social media accounts. Sharing kids’ photos or doings on social media can have some drawbacks in terms of privacy. One possibility is to create an account that is accessible only to approved family and friends, including birth parents. This allows sharing without the complications of scheduling visits. It can also give birth parents a window into the child’s world without requiring specific commitments.

In-person visits

In the early stages of the adoption, visits might be supervised by a social worker or adoption facilitator. Over time, as comfort levels increase, unsupervised visits at the adoptive family’s home or neutral locations can occur.

Birth parents might be invited to celebrate birthdays, holidays, or special occasions with the adoptive family and the child.

Make a plan

Once you’ve decided what ways of keeping in touch will work best for you, create an agreed-upon plan. An open adoption plan or contact agreement outlines the frequency and method of communication, helping to manage expectations and avoid misunderstandings.

All communication and interactions should prioritize the child’s emotional well-being and sense of security in both families. As the child matures, their own desires regarding contact with the birth parent(s) should be taken into account.

There’s no “one size fits all” approach. Open communication, respect for boundaries, and a focus on the child’s well-being are key to maintaining positive relationships in open adoptions. When you want an open adoption in Arkansas, Heimer Law will assist you in making an open adoption plan that works for your family.

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