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Options and Successful Strategies

What if the decision has been made, perhaps by a judge, that your child will be in contact with his or her birth family?

The most common means of contact is the exchange of letters and photos. The adoptive family sends updated letters and information to the birth family either directly or through their adoption professional. At times, the birth family may also send photos or news of their own in return. This can be an important opportunity for your child to experience two-way communication, to receive answers to questions only the birth family can answer or even to simply build the foundation of a relationship.

With easy access to technology, contact has now jumped to cyberspace as well. E-mailing photos or sending links to online photo albums are easy ways to stay in touch. Some adoptive families have set up a private area at MySpace.com or MySpaceAdoption.com to post photos and updates, giving access only to members of the birth family. If your birth family is Internet savvy, there are many ways in which you can keep in touch without much effort.

It is important to understand why birth families want contact. While some are hoping to watch the child grow or to ensure that you are good parents, the reality is more likely that they are simply looking for the reassurance that they made the right decision. Birth grandparents who desire to stay in contact likely feel like most grandparents do. Be sensitive to the deep feelings that grandparents have for their grandchildren. If appropriate, encouraging this connection will provide more people who love your child, thus giving her the reassurance and sense of history that she is seeking.

Requests for visits with the child by birth families are on the rise. Often this is something that adoptive families fear or may be suspicious of. Rest assured that visits in adoption are not the same as visitation awarded in a divorce. A visit with a birth mother or other member of the birth family takes place with the adoptive family present; the child is not left alone unless the parent plans for it. Often visits are planned at public places, like parks or restaurants, where there is the opportunity for the child to engage in normal activities, giving the birth family the opportunity to see how happy and healthy your child is.

Your commitment to ongoing contact may have been one of the things that initially attracted a birth family to you. It is vital that you honor the commitment you have made to the birth family to the best of your ability.

For more information please consider visiting OpenAdoption.com.

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Bonus content originally excerpted from Handbook on Thriving as an Adoptive Family, published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., © 2008 by Sanford Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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