Photo sharing is one of the many perks to having an open adoption. It allows birth family members a window into the child’s life, which can be invaluable. But, photo sharing can come with issues of its own. Here are some tips to help you navigate this part of your open adoption.
1. Set clear boundaries.
One of the biggest issues I have seen within the adoption triad is when birth family goes outside the comfortable boundaries of the adoptive parents. This is largely due to two things: One, the adoptive parents never specified when/where they felt comfortable with pictures of their child being shared. Second, the birth family never thinks to ask because it’s “their” child, too.
So, adoptive parents: The best thing you can do before even one picture or video is shared is be very specific about what you’re comfortable with. For example, let them know if you don’t want your child’s pictures shared on their birth parent’s Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media outlet.
Birth families: If you haven’t had that conversation already, ASK! Not only will clarifying boundaries upfront prevent frustration and hurt feelings, it will also help build up your lines of communication in an easy and positive way. And, as we all know, communication is the key to success in an open adoption.
2. Try to stay consistent in sharing.
The BIGGEST fear of birth families is that one day the adoptive parents will decide to cut them out. I have yet to meet a birth mom who does not have that specific fear. The best way to diminish that fear is to stay consistent. So, if you share pictures once a week, try not to go three weeks without sharing anything. The amount of sharing is up to you, whether it is once a week, twice a month, or twice a year; just stay consistent. This will prevent birth families from feeling like you are pulling away. Which, in turn, will keep your relationship with one another strong.
3. Pick a media outlet you’re comfortable with.
This is very important because picking how you share photos will help you in setting your boundaries. For example, it might be confusing to birth parents if you don’t want the pictures you send to be shared on Facebook, but you are providing those pictures pictures through Facebook. In my adoption (birth mom here), the adoptive mom doesn’t want her daughter on social media. So she created an account on Shutterfly to share pictures. It’s perfect because it allows me to see all the pictures she’s posted and comment on them without them being shared in a public space. Whether you choose to share through Facebook, Instagram, email, or snail mail, just find what is comfortable for you.
Every adoption is different because every person is different. We all have different levels of openness we are okay with. Just figure out what you’re comfortable with and communicate that. Communication really is what keeps open adoption going. Even if it hurts at first, just be honest and open and in the end it will work out. If you need any help with photo sharing feel free to reach out to me. I would be more than willing to help out! So let us go out and love one another well!