Social Worker: Contact Between Adoptive and Birth Parents

Should an adult adoptee expect her adoptive parents to participate in family gatherings with her biological family?

Crystal Perkins February 04, 2014
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Historically, adoptions have been confidential, but that has changed as our society has become more open-minded.  Now strict confidentiality is not necessarily the norm. However, regardless of the contact arrangement initially established when your child was adopted, when your child becomes an adult, the pathways of the adoption triad may change based on current and divergent perspectives on open adoption. In other words, all bets are off. Adolescents moving into adulthood face normal transitions alongside the ones that are unique to adoption. They will have to make the choice to search for their biological family, which is normal; or to choose not to, which is a positive decision too. Of course there are pros and cons with everything, and we as adoptive parents– one-third of the adoption triad–need to try to be supportive of our adult child’s curiosity about their personal history.

Based on one’s own comfort level at any given time, some parents may feel that it is okay for their adopted child to associate with their child’s birth family if he or she chooses to. They are secure in their relationship and know they raised their child the way they promised to. They have a strong bond with their son or daughter and know they love each other unconditionally. They feel that being respectful of this relationship shows their child that they are available to them emotionally and are supportive of their choices. It is understandable for your adult child to be interested in learning first-hand about their medical history, discovering similarities in mannerisms and physical resemblances, and developing a relationship with biological siblings. These parents feel supporting contacts, and even attending biological family gatherings, will put to rest any fantasy their adult child may have had.

Others may feel that under no circumstance do they want to meet or get to know their child’s biological family, despite their adult child’s desire to. They may feel insecure in their relationship with their child and still experience the pain of not being the birth parent. They may worry that this new relationship will jeopardize their standing as the primary parent. More importantly, they may also be concerned about the emotional impact having a relationship with the biological family will have on their child. The birth parent may have made subsequent improvements to their life or kept other siblings, which can cause emotional turmoil, even if your son or daughter is now an adult.

Adoption should be viewed as an ongoing process rather than a one-time event. Try to be flexible, open-minded, and know that your feelings are likely normal and common among adoptive parents.

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Crystal Perkins

Crystal is the content manager for Adoption.com. In her free time, she enjoys honing her outdoor photography skills, going on hikes, and hanging out with her husband.


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