6 Ways to Help Your Child Build Relationships with Birth Family

Every relationship requires work and commitment.

Amy Harmon April 21, 2016

Every relationship requires work and commitment. Building a relationship with your child’s birth family is no different. Here are a few things that have helped our son develop a relationship with his birth family. Maybe some of them will work for you, too.

Keep pictures.
1. Keep pictures.

Keep photos of your child’s birth family. They will cherish the photos of their birth parents and can learn the names of other family members. Photo albums, framed pictures, memory books, and lockets can all be fun ways to keep the pictures close.

Collect stories.
2. Collect stories.

Collect stories from your child’s birth family. This can be done through visits, email, letters, or talking with friends of the family. I always prefer firsthand accounts in writing to share with my child later. (I have a terrible memory for details, so it helps to have it written down somewhere.)

Find stories that will help your child connect with their birth families. And the stories don’t need to be perfect. Funny stories, embarrassing moments, and recovering from hardships will all be wonderful connecting points throughout your child’s life.

You can prompt stories by asking questions like:
-What is a memory that still makes you laugh?
-What is something you have done that you are proud of?
-Tell me about something you worked hard to accomplish.

These questions are a good starting place for stories that will help your child connect with birth families as well as recognizing the strength that comes through their biological lines.

Create traditions.
3. Create traditions.

While you are gathering stories, ask about family traditions. Consider incorporating some aspects of those traditions with your own family. You can also involve your child’s birth family in your traditions. Make an annual Christmas card to send or have your child make a simple craft to give.

Take advantage of video chat and social media.
4. Take advantage of video chat and social media.

Use technology to keep connected. With the use of social media, open adoption has become much more prevalent. You can connect in everyday life, even if you live far away. Your child can share special moments or accomplishments with their birth family. It can also be fun just to see the occasional update.

Be consistently respectful.
5. Be consistently respectful.

Children will develop some sense of identity from their relationship with their birth family. Perspective can make a big difference. Recognizing the good in people goes a long way for your child, especially with their birth family. Always speak with love and respect, even when difficult situations arise. Set clear boundaries and never cross them. Follow through on commitments. And be aware that situations change over time. Your relationship will not stay the same forever. Make the most out of the moments.

Work around special circumstances.
6. Work around special circumstances.

Sometimes a relationship with a birth family may not seem possible. If conflict or drastic changes occur, you may want to consider mediation. This involves utilizing a professional third party to help resolve differences. Sometimes this can be arranged through a social worker or an adoption agency. Even if all parties are not involved with counseling, you can gain insight into methods that will better fit your personal circumstances.

In conclusion . . .
7. In conclusion . . .

In the end, the most important part of a positive birth family relationship is the same as as all relationships: Be forgiving, understanding, look for the best in people, and put forth your own effort. As your children grows, they will cherish those moments and be grateful for your willingness to support that part of their lives.

How have you helped your child strengthen their relationship with their birth family?

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Amy Harmon

Amy Harmon lives in Kansas with her husband and two boys. Each child was a miracle; the first through adoption and the second through IVF. Her family is her passion, but in addition to that she is an RN, pianist, avid reader, slow jogger and an adoption advocate.

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