The simple answer is you don’t. Every relationship takes work, commitment, and open communication on the part of both parties. And on occasion some adoptive parents will lie to get an expectant parent to place their child with them. With that said, there are some red flags you can look out for as an expectant parent looking for an open adoption.
Are the hopeful adoptive parents interested in you, not just your baby?
Do they want to learn about things you enjoy and find common ground to talk about those things – or do they always ask about your pregnancy and your child? While you don’t have to share the same interests, in a healthy relationship, both parties share personal information and take pride in knowing what the other likes and dislikes. If you don’t feel like the hopeful adoptive parents are there for you, then it could be a red flag that they are just there for your baby.
How do they talk about you and your baby?
Do they “claim” your baby as their own or do they respect that you are still the parent as you haven’t yet signed over your rights? Positive adoption language continues to evolve, and while you can’t expect a first-time hopeful adoptive parent to know all the correct language, and you yourself even may not, a willingness by both parties to seek out the information is a sign that hopeful adoptive parents want to do the right thing and follow through with their commitments.
How do they deal with disagreements?
Disagreements will arise in every relationship. If there is something important to you, be it religion, politics, lifestyle choices, etc, make sure you discuss these things in the beginning. If you know you will want to include other family members or friends in visits, then discuss that beforehand. Chances are you will not agree with the hopeful adoptive parents on all points. Very few people always share the same ideals and desires. If you do disagree on something how do the hopeful adoptive parents respond? Do they pull back or do they listen to your opinion and try to see your side? Can you agree to disagree and move on?
How do they talk about the future?
When the future is discussed, do the hopeful adoptive parents discuss you as a wanted part of their lives? Vague answers on what they would like to see as far visits go may show that they aren’t committed to openness. Same goes if they over-promise on openness. It probably isn’t realistic to have visits multiple times a week. And in all honesty, it isn’t always the healthiest solution. Most of us can’t spend an entire week with our best friend without arguing, let alone someone who was a stranger just a short time ago. And when you add in adoption, there are even more emotions. If you are able to discuss what you both desire in terms of contact and understand that the needs of either side may change, and you agree at least on the minimum amount of contact you are both comfortable with, it is a sign that hopeful adoptive parents are committed to maintaining openness.
A few final thoughts
Nothing you do can guarantee that an open adoption will last. Unfortunately for birth parents, open adoption contacts are not often enforceable. It really is a matter of trusting that what the hopeful adoptive parents promise is what they actually mean. Follow your gut, don’t ignore any doubt or red flags you see. Talk openly and honestly about what you want, even if the answer is that you don’t know at that time. Don’t be afraid to tell hopeful adoptive parents what you need and what you envision for the future.
Pregnant and considering adoption? You don’t need to do it alone. Click here to connect with a caring, compassionate adoption professional who can help you figure out what’s best for you and your baby. All consultations and counseling are absolutely free.