So you’re preparing to be an adoptive parent in an open adoption . . . CONGRATULATIONS! By now you may have begun to develop a relationship with your child’s soon-to-be birth mother. Your gratitude is inexplicable and your tender feelings for her are deep. As her pregnancy continues and your anticipation escalates, it might be good to sit down and brainstorm ways you can either include her, or work out a good substitute when including her isn’t doable. When it’s truly impractical and possibly impossible to help the expectant mother feel included, an open discussion sharing your dismay might help to diminish her own disappointment and solidify the relationship you two have. Following are some ideas for you to consider and to get you going on your own list:

Registry: Has a friend begun planning your baby shower? Maybe the expectant mother can spend an afternoon with you shopping for baby items to put on the registry. Hit the stores together, then go for a mani-pedi. Or spend the afternoon in your home adding items from your computer.

Name: Talk to the expectant mother about your baby’s name. Is there a name she is already thinking of? Share the names you like. Maybe you can work as a team, like spouses do, in narrowing down your choices.

Joint Outings: Will there be a baby blessing or christening? Inviting the expectant mom might be a sweet gift. Better yet, invite her to ride with you. Unless, of course, you have limited seat belts and there’s just not room. In that case, talk about it. Tell her how much you’d like to have her be “one of the family” as you go to church together. When she knows how welcomed she is and how sorry you are that there’s not room, she’ll probably feel more comfortable joining your family each time she’s invited.

Shopping: The baby’s expectant mother might like to join you when you’re buying diapers, clothes, bottles, and more. What could be a mundane task might turn into a great girls’ outing!

Distance: If the expectant mother lives far away, consider inviting her to join the family over Skype for significant events like birthdays and holidays. Or, if that doesn’t work, make short recordings of special times and upload them to YouTube, sending her the private link. Anticipate times she may be missing the child she bore, and invite her rather than waiting for her to ask.

As you begin your own preparations for your baby, and are intentional about caring for his/her birth mother’s feelings, ideas will come to you often of ways that she can be included. As an adoptive mother myself, I know that I love it when some way comes to mind that I can show my gratitude to our son’s birth mother. Through the years, when an idea comes to mind, jot it down. Keep a list or write it on your calendar; set a reminder on your phone; or just drop a quick text or email to her sharing your ideas. She’ll love you for it!