Navigating open adoption can be tricky, because there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Each adoption is as unique as the people involved. What is vital is, when at all possible, setting expectations up front. It’s also important to be flexible with communication as needs and preferences can change over time. For example, a birth parent may need to step away for a little bit to grieve, or may realize that s/he would like more communication than they originally thought. Adoptive parents shouldn’t promise more communication than they’re sure they can do, and it’s okay to not be comfortable with every single communication option. Here are some ways that adoptive parents and birth families can communicate in open adoption:

Letters through the Agency

In semi-open adoptions, adoptive parents can send letters and photos regularly to the agency, who will pass them on to the birth family and vice versa. This can vary from once a year to one a month. Check with your agency to see if they do this form of communication.

Letters Directly

There’s something really nice about sending information “the old fashioned way” and mailing letters, photos, or packages yourself.


If the birth family has access, email can be an easy way to stay in touch. I created an email account just to keep track of birth family emails, so someday my child can read our correspondence.


I think this is a nice compliment to other forms of communication. Texting is great to send pictures back and forth or a quick check-in.


This isn’t for everyone. Some families are Facebook friends. Others want to keep that part of their life separate, but create a secret group for multiple family members to see photos and updates. If extended birth family is involved, this is a simple way to keep everyone informed of how your child is doing.

In Person

When possible, communicating in person is a way to make memories. Visits can be helpful to both the birth family and the adopted child.


Written by Maya Brown-Zimmerman