Navigating the placement process as a father can be difficult, overwhelming, and stressful. It can be especially confusing if you are not sure of your rights as the father of the child. You may not be sure of the correct adoption terminology or how to negotiate the terms and conditions of the adoption. Throughout this process, remember that you do have rights. One of those rights is deciding which type of adoption you need or want.

While some may tell you that you don’t have many options as a father throughout the placement process of your child, that simply isn’t the case. As a father, you have important and viable rights. You have the right and the power to help make decisions once you and the mother of your child begin the placement journey.

Deciding that you want an open adoption does not make you selfish. Every open adoption relationship is unique. Before entering into an open adoption relationship, it can be very helpful and beneficial if you know exactly what you want. Determining what you want in your potential open adoption may take ample research and consideration of all your adoption relationship options. You’ll need to discover which options are available to you.

Each open adoption relationship is different; it is completely customizable for all parties involved. You can determine frequency of contact and type of contact. You’ll need to determine your comfort level with the potential relationship. Along with the adoptive parents, you have the option of which and how much personal information will be shared with your child as he or she ages. While you’re going through this process, here are some things that you should consider for any open adoption relationship that you wish to begin:

1. Personal Information: What type of personal information would you like your child and your child’s adoptive parents to know about you?

2. Your Story: You may decide to give your child, or his or her adoptive parents, with a copy—written or recorded—of your story. Consider sharing how you found yourself in your current situation and why you decided that placing your child with an adoptive family was the best choice for all parties involved. Write or record your feelings for the child you placed and for the family that welcomed him or her into their home. While your child may not read, see, or hear your story during his or her childhood, it will be there when your child reaches the right age of maturity and understanding.

3. Types of Contact: There are many different types of possible contact with an open adoption relationship. It is between you and the adoptive parents to decide which methods are acceptable for your specific situation. This can include emails, letters, in-person visits, family participation and so on. It is crucial that all parties feel completely comfortable with the end decision.

4. Frequency: Once you have decided on the appropriate and accepted types of contact within the open adoption relationship, the next thing you’ll need to decide upon is the frequency of contact. Some people decide to only have contact during major life and family events, birthday parties, graduations, weddings, picnics, or family get-togethers. It’s really up to you and the adoptive parents. Come to a compromise upon which everyone can agree.

Creating a healthy open adoption relationship will take work, dedication, honesty, and compromise. But, in most cases, it is completely worth it. As a father, remember that you do have options, parental rights, and many decisions to make. Take the time necessary to make an informed decision. An informed decision is the best decision to make.