Monday, February 20, 2012

Treating birth families like, well, FAMILY

2012 Best of Open Adoption Blogs

I was doing some really quick blog and discussion board catch up this morning.  I was interested to read a couple of comments that were posted on a discussion board I follow.

One question posed by a mother of an adopted child was "What pictures should I send to my daughter's birth mother?" (Wondering if they should only be of the child or should they include their family too.)

There were a few responses at the time I read the board, but the best in my mind was one mother who said, and I paraphrase, "I send any picture that I would send anyone else in our family."

Profound in its simplicity as far as I was concerned.

A second question posted, asked again by a mother of an adopted child, dealt with whether or not their family should tell their child's birth mother that they are not comfortable meeting her boyfriend (of about 6 months) at their next visit.  (The birth mother kindly asked in advance, giving the parents the opportunity to say no.)

Another mother replied (a blogging mom that I actually follow) that they don't tell their daughter's birth mother who she can or cannot bring to a visit.  Just like they do not tell other family members who they can or cannot bring to family get togethers.  Their daughter's birth mother knows that they expect she would only bring someone who is safe to be around their daughter.  But past that, they are open to allowing her bring her current boyfriend, a girl friend or any other member of her family with her.

Again, a wise statement in my book.

The common theme in both of these responses, by two different mommas.

We treat our child's birth family the same way we treat our own family.


MommySquared said...

I saw both of these as well and read more to get to the comments, I was happy to see the responses that resonated with love and family too!

Debbie said...

Love their responses. That's how we treat our daughter's brithfamily. We very much look at it like a marriage. When I married my husband I gained his family and when we adopted our daughter we gained her family.
And just yesterday we had a birthday party for our foster daughter and invited the safe members of her bio family to the party. We are just a crazy mix of family in our home and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Amber said...


The Annessa Family said...

I've been wondering the same thing - I want to be sure she see's her little girl growing up, but don't want to send something that could be hard for her to see - like me with her daughter...I just want to be respectful of her feelings and emotions.

But I think that advice is great - If it's something I'd send to our daughters Aunt or Grandmother, it's something her birth mother would probably like to see too!


LisaAnne said...


I can only speak from my own experience based on my own feelings on the pictures subject.

Even as disappointed as I have been with how Brit's adoptive parents have treated us, I am still happy to see pictures of Brit happy with her family. On days when I am crying for my relationship lost with her, I try to remember that Brit has no idea and right now she is living a happy, idyllic life. The pictures reinforce that.

I can't help but think that most birth mothers would be OK with seeing pictures of her child with his/her family if the relationship between the parents and birth family was healthy and respectful. After all, we did choose adoption and we knew that someone else would be raising our child. I will admit that sometimes the pictures of my child with another family make me cry, but it doesn't mean I don't want them.

Sidenote: Maybe in a case of foster to adoption it would be a bit more unsettling to see the adoptive family with the child, but I can only hypothesis on that one.

I do appreciate having some nice pictures of Brit alone, just so we can display them in our home without compromising Brit's family's privacy.

The pictures I love the most are the ones that show her involved in real life, playing and laughing. Followed in a close tie with the awesome head shots of her smiling from ear to ear.

But by far the greatest gift I could be given would be a real relationship with Brit, where we were revered as true family.

But I know you already know that. :)

birthmothertalks said...

Loved this!!!!

LeMira said...

THIS is exactly how I feel about our son's birth mother. She's a part of our family. I was nervous about sending pictures of all of use until she told me that she hung up the picture of our family on her fridge. I wish I could explain this to my mom who is so worried about the birth mother changing her mind. It's not about that at all, to me, it's about building a long-lasting relationship no matter what happens.

Heather said...

I'll be honest - I hoped for an adoption arrangement with very little ongoing contact outside of pics and letters when we first started our adoption process. Over time, God softened my heart and opened my eyes to what a more open adoption could mean - for all of us.

So when our son was born, and we clicked so easily with his birth mom, I felt so blessed. I hoped and expected ongoing contact.

Fast-forward three months, and we've never received a single response to any of the pics or 4 updates we've sent. I'm disappointed that my son has no pics of his birth family outside of what I snapped at the hospital... no letter explaining her decision to make an adoption plan or affirming her love for him... not even a quick "Oh my gosh, he's so beautiful!" note for me to put in his LifeBox.

And I guess I'm a little sad for me too. She's the ONLY one who can appreciate his beauty, and his milestones, and every precious thing about him like I can.

I have one sibling who is kind of... flaky. :p Doesn't invest much in my kids, rarely responds to updates on their lives, doesn't show up for special events, etc. So I know that "family" can look like that too.

I guess I feel like I can explain that to my son as just a distracted aunt or uncle, and it probably won't be a big deal as he grows up.

But how do you explain it when that "family" member is his other mom???

Addison Cooper said...

This was excellent. I've often trained fost/adopt parents on how to interact with birth family members, and your post sums up my heart: Treat them like your own family. I'm going to share this on Twitter @AddisonCooper and aim it at an adoption administrator I know; hopefully your words will reach scores of new adoptive parents.

Meg said...

Agree Agree Agree! I remember following that comment thread, or a similar one, on facebook. And I guess I had never thought too much about what pictures I send to H. I just send the ones I love. And she has remarked that she likes some of the same silly ones that I like, too. After our son's first birthday party, one of my friends remarked that she had sat and talked to his birthmom for the whole time all the kiddos were swimming, since neither of them had suits. She remarked "I was suprised! She is so funny and cool, and I loved talking to her. I feel like we could hang out. not what i expected!" On the one hand, it thrilled me, cause yes we think she is awesome too! and on the other hand, it made me laugh-- I guess what did she expect? She's a normal, bright, funny young girl who just happened to chose adoption for her son.

Meg @