Open Adoption: Building a Relationship

5 tips on how to build trust in your open adoption

Terra Cooper June 12, 2014

Adoption is hard. Building a relationship with each other will also be very hard, but if you put the work in, it will be one of the most rewarding relationships you will have!

Tip #1: Be honest
1. Tip #1: Be honest

These tips are for both adoptive and birth parents. You trust people more when you see their flaws, their authentic self. When you meet your expectant mother/father, be yourself! You never know what things will connect you, so just be honest with them and be honest about who you are. You can't build a relationship on lies or pretending to be someone that you are not. This relationship will be one of the most important ones you will ever have and having a good one will help your child in the future.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ― Oscar Wilde

Tip #2: Be interested
2. Tip #2: Be interested

Genuinely be interested in what each other likes, what their hopes and dreams are, what they want in your relationship together. Honestly, it can be awkward trying to have a relationship with someone because they may place their baby with you or you may place your baby with them. Try not to have that be the focus. Focus on building a good and real relationship/friendship with them. If placement doesn't occur, you both know that you were as much invested in your relationship with them as you were in the choice of an adoption.

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ― Leo Buscaglia

Tip #3: Be compassionate
3. Tip #3: Be compassionate

In adoption, there is pain on both sides. Be compassionate and loving to each other. You will never fully know what the other is going through, but you can let them know and show them you love them and care about them.

“When I came in with tears in my eyes, you always knew whether I needed you to hold me or just let me be. I don't know how you knew, but you did, and you made it easier for me.” ― Nicholas Sparks,

Tip #4:  Have a communication plan
4. Tip #4: Have a communication plan

Before placement, talk about what kind of communication you want after placement. Don't agree to anything you are not comfortable with because if you go back on what you said you would do, it will only cause hurt and pain. If you are not sure what you are able to handle, be honest and tell the other person that. The most important thing you can do is be honest with how you feel. Your feelings will change as time goes on, and you won't always know what you want.

"The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said." - Peter Drucker

Tip #5: Make time for each other
5. Tip #5: Make time for each other

Your relationship-building doesn't stop after placement. In fact, after is where you will need each other the most. Spend time with each other. Do things without the baby. Continue to communicate often. The best thing our daughter's birth mother and I ever did was go to California for a few days together. We had four days straight together to talk about so many things and strengthened our relationship and love for each other. I'm not saying you have to go to Disneyland (it is the happiest place on Earth :D). But really, you can just have a girls' night out every couple of months, or if you don't live close, have a Skype session with just the two of you. Just make time to connect!

“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” ― Donald Miller,

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Terra Cooper

Terra Cooper is a Staff Storyteller at She is a mother of three-- two boys and one girl who was adopted. She is also a professional wedding photographer, a self-proclaimed foodie, and a TV/movie addict. Visit her website.

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