Effective Communication in Adoption

How can I strengthen relationships in my adoption?

Alysia Foote July 13, 2014
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An adoptive mom friend of mine was recently talking me off of the proverbial ledge with the lack of communication in my placement, and she said something that struck me to the core. She said, “Adoption is a bigger commitment than even marriage. Statistics show that 50% of marriages fail. There is no failure in adoption. You will be connected to them for the rest of your life, regardless of your relationship. So why not make it an amazing one?”

We communicate every single moment of our days through phone, email, text and old fashioned face-to-face. Building a relationship is a two way street. When I think of how communication should look, I see the “scales of justice” in my head. Each grain of salt or each spoken word of communication shifts the balance to the right or to the left. There are not too many moments where you will see it being weighed as perfectly even because we all know that life happens.

As a birth mom, I find myself waiting for my adoptive family to send me updates. I try not to bother them with questions or ask them for updates. When those do not come, I am hurt and upset over the lack of communication. My amazing adoptive mama friend reminded me that I was lacking in my communication, as well. You see, adoptive moms are just moms. They want to dote about their children and the world of sticky hands and silly faces that they wished for over years of struggles and heartbreaks. They want to break out the fun stories and photos, and who else would they want to share it with than the people who made that world happen for them?

Why do we wait for the other party to comment or tell us a story? Why do we not speak up and share our words with them and say, “I’d like to hear what was fun and exciting this week.” My personal feelings are that I do not want to tread in to their personal world, this world that they have built together. I don’t want to be “that birth mom” that toes the line of how far they should be involved. Why do we not just communicate? What is there to lose?

“Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.” – Jim Rohn

Why can’t we open our mouths the way we open our hearts? Relationships are built from trust, love, and commitment. I know that I placed my child into their family’s arms at birth. I know that it was the hardest thing I have ever done as a human being. I know that they are loved and they are cared for beyond what I could ever possibly imagine. That about sums up the 20% of effective communication. Moving forward to the other 80%, I feel my heart hurting when I am missing them. I feel lost and sometimes worthless in their world. My percentage break down may be different than an adoptive parent or an adoptee, but the amount always will equal 100% of effective communication no matter which part of the triad you come from.

Everyone has emotions they hold in to save face with another party in every relationship. I can express my feelings to a room of three and each and every person may take what I said in a different light. It may offend, it may hurt, and it may be amazing. Everyone has the right to feel different than the other, but the goal in communication is talking through things.

Keep the lines of communication open. Talk about hard things. Say what you feel because it will ultimately build a stronger relationship. Why would we hold things in and never know what the other is thinking? When I sit and contemplate why my adoptive family isn’t sending me fun stories, they might be sitting and wondering why I don’t ask for them. Relationships are about give and take. We have to give what we expect to take. Everyone has expectations of their relationships, but without working on them and effectively communicating, you cannot expect the relationship to flourish and grow. It becomes stagnant and feelings get hurt.

What do you do to maintain positive and effective communication in your adoption relationship? How do you balance the scale? Do you talk about hard things even though the thought of it is beyond frightening? Adoption is forever. What can we do to bridge the lines of communication and effectively build a relationship that is healthy and balanced?

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Alysia Foote

Alysia is married to her high school sweetheart and they parent four children together. She enjoys taking road trips and loves cooking anything that is fresh and beautiful. She is a birth mother with an open adoption.Her adoption journey is hard, but the lessons learned and people met through placement are irreplaceable, and she loves adoption, which creates a family for everyone involved.


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