When you're getting to know someone in an open adoption relationship, how do you cement the friendship? It seems like every relationship starts out on a level of friendly/polite . . . how do you progress to a level of loving/real?
Not all open adoption relationships get beyond the polite phase. The ones that do mean that they have made a great effort to do so.
Directly addressing the grief of the birth parent and feelings of insecurity from the adoptive parents are necessary to create a real, healthy relationship. Just like any other relationship, you have to really be able to be yourselves. It can be awkward, but unless all parties feel understood and loved, it can't get deeper than politeness.
Another important thing is to make sure the friendship is not just about the child. If you only discuss one person or subject, the relationship stays superficial. Taking the time to get to know the other parent as an individual, likes, dislikes, and quality time together will help you be friends.
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I was lucky enough to surrender my son to my pastor and his wife whom I'd known for almost ten years. There wa already deep intimacy there, which was amazing in the way it played out as our dynamic changed. I agree that some relationships may not become so intimate, but merely stay careful and polite.