If you have an open adoption or are adopting from foster care, there may be instances where you will remain in contact with some of your child’s birth family. Developing and maintaining a positive relationship with those family members is a critical part of your child’s mental and emotional health. Here are a few ways you can work towards this goal.
Set Up Regular Visits
Depending on the circumstances and location of the birth family, you may want to set up regular visits with them. Grandparents, siblings, and other extended family might enjoy getting to know the child and seeing how they are developing. For some, this may be a visit around Christmas and birthdays while others may spend time together more often.
If you adopted from foster care, you may want to consider including the biological parents in the visits if they are able to handle these meetings. It’s a good idea to discuss the option with them so everyone feels comfortable with the situation.
Stay Focused on the Child
It’s all too easy to let your own feelings get in the way of making good decisions. You may worry that your child will love the biological family more than you or that they will undermine your parenting. If both of you focus on what’s best for the child, the relationships the child has with everyone will grow stronger.
Some children are curious and want to know more about where they come from. Others aren’t ready to handle answers to tough questions. Both the adoptive and biological families must put their own interests aside to help the child.
The relationship you have with the biological family will be better if you both have a clear set of expectations about your roles. You should discuss what your boundaries are in contact and other forms of communication. It’s important to respect the other’s wishes even if they are different from your own.
As you set and maintain boundaries, the respect you have for each other will grow. You’ll become more comfortable with your situation, which will help the child become more relaxed.
Keep the Relationship Positive
You’re probably not always going to agree with the other family’s ways of doing things or their point of view. However, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude, especially in front of the kids or when the biological family is around. Your attitude will be reflected and mimicked in your child’s attitude.
If you have issues with something the biological family says or does, handle it in a positive way. Don’t be judgmental or accusing. Instead, try to find a neutral way to discuss your concerns. For instance, you might not like some of the subjects the biological family talks about around your child. Try to explain your point of view in a non-threatening way.
In many situations, it may be best to not say anything. Pick your battles and don’t argue about minor issues. For instance, the biological family may be more expensive gifts for the child than what you like to buy for them. This may be a time when it’s best to just let the child enjoy the gift and not make a big deal about it.
The key to developing a strong relationship with the biological family is to have open communication with respect for each other and a focus on the child. The end result is a well-adapted child with fewer issues because they learn from you how to build relationships and how to accept people as they are, including themselves.