Once it’s clear that a child is going to be adopted, it can be extremely hard for biological and adoptive parents to maintain a relationship with each other. But without it, children can be forced to choose between two families.
Sarah Gerstenzang, an adoptive parent, and co-founder of the Adoption Foster Care Therapist Network says there are steps both sides can take.
•Adoptive parents can speak to a therapist with the child about what kind of relationship the child wants with the biological family after adoption. Then, as much as possible, adoptive parents should follow the child’s lead.
•Biological parents can ask foster parents to discuss what kinds of visits they would be comfortable with. For instance, an adoptive parent may not feel comfortable allowing unsupervised visits if there have been concerns about a parent’s drug use but may allow supervised visits. These conversations can be hard, but if adoptive parents have safety unaddressed concerns, visits are unlikely to happen.
•Biological parents can ask if there are other ways to keep in touch, such as phone, mail, email or Facebook.
•Both parents can agree to update each other with contact information. Even if children don’t want contact with a biological parent now, it’s likely that at some point, they will.
•Adoptive parents should know that contact may be good for them, too. That’s because adopted children often bring pain and anger with them and often, those feelings get directed at the adoptive parent. Encouraging adopted children to have contact with their biological family can help them work out their confusing feelings.
•If contact may not be allowed, biological parents can write a letter, give it to the adoptive parent and say, “I hope you can share this with my child.” You can also give pictures or keepsakes.
•Biological parents can introduce adoptive parents to extended family, who can help keep a family connection and serve as a bridge.
•If there are conflicts, biological parents can ask to meet with the adoptive parent without the child to try to resolve the conflicts. It might be helpful to bring along someone both parents trust.