Open adoption is, in my opinion, the number one best way for a birth mother to handle the grief of placing her child. For me, it was the main factor in helping me to properly move forward in my life. If the adoption had been closed, I’m confident that the incredible healing that has taken place in my life these past seven and a half years wouldn’t have occurred.

In order to maintain an open adoption between birth and adoptive parents, there has to be proper communication. This without a doubt is the number one key to having the type of openness that you both agreed on in the beginning.

Here you will find 5 ways to maintain this open communication during conflict.

1. Never assume.

Assumptions aren’t good for any relationship, and if we assume without asking, it could result in resentment, hurt feelings, and unnecessary conflict. Something that I was taught when I was younger is that assuming “makes an Ass out of u and me.” This is a great way to remind myself to never assume. It’s not good for anyone and it goes hand in hand with the fact that no one can read minds. Talking about it, asking questions, and expressing how something is coming across to you and asking to reiterate is the best way to go. It is never okay to assume.

2.  Be honest.

While being honest about your feelings is important in order to communicate properly, being careful to be honest without hurting others’ feelings is crucial. Chances are, we all know someone who is brutally honest. Chances are, this person doesn’t make you feel very great about yourself. Being honest about what you expect, how you’re feeling about the situation, and what you’re hoping to avoid—all while being respectful and loving—will help everyone to avoid the terrible assumptions that can result when you fail to express your feelings.

3.  Set boundaries together. 

If you are both struggling to learn each other’s boundaries, or feel like you both are on a different page, it may be time to sit down together and talk about what you each expect. This is something that should be done before placement. Doing it after placement could result in disappointment and pain that could have been avoided. Setting boundaries before placement will keep everyone on the same page and is a way to be sure that everyone’s expectations are the same.

4. Express expectations in the very beginning. 

If there is something that you are expecting, it is crucial that you communicate that expectation. A great time to express these expectations is when you are setting the boundaries together. While it may be scary to express them out of fear of rejection, it is important to lay it all out on the table. If this doesn’t happen, the communication won’t be as open as it should be and you or someone else involved could end up feeling disappointed or hurt.

5. Make plans together. 

Understanding what the plans are for birthdays, holidays, and other special events will only happen if you sit down all together and discuss them. Leaving it all up in the air could result in one or both of you feeling let down, hurt, or even like promises have been broken.

Chances are, you both have the utmost respect for each other. No one is going to want to hurt the other, and you can all have a great relationship together if your lines of communication are open and strong. Having an open adoption can be incredible for everyone involved, especially if the communication between each other is strong. After all, this relationship is all about the same thing: What’s best for your child.