Adoption brings new meaning to complicated family relationships. Not only does an adopted child have his or her adoptive parents, but they also have birth parents. The adoptee has grandparents from his or her biological side of the family and from the adoptive side of the family. Below are few ways to unite your adoption triad.
One of the best ways to unite an adoption triad is by getting connected and communicating with each of the members. Communication doesn’t have to be constant long drawn out conversations, it can come in various forms and some of the ways take very little effort.
If your adoption triad is a part of an open adoption, you can become friends on your social media platforms. This will allow everyone in the adoption triad to keep up with each other’s life in a non-invasive way. Each member of the triad will simply share what they are comfortable sharing. This type of connection is great for those adoption triad members who want to begin a relationship or want to have one with clear boundaries.
Even before the adoption is completed, a prospective adoptive parent can allow an expectant parent to follow them on social media, and the expectant parent can see glimpses into the life of the prospective adoptive parent. This can help the expectant parent decide if they want to choose the prospective adoptive parent.
After an adoption is complete, an adoptive parent can follow a birth parent through social media and allow the adoptee to see glimpses into his or her birth parent’s life. The adoptive parent can also allow the birth parent to follow him or her. This can help the birth parent to see how the adoptee is doing. When the adoptee is old enough to engage in social media, they can follow and be followed by their birth parents. Social media can be an excellent way to feel connected, especially when the different members of the triad live in different states.
Another way to get connected is to talk on the telephone or through video chat. My sister-in-law was able to connect with her biological son’s mother and talk on the telephone. It was a great way of starting to communicate while establishing clear boundaries. It allows them to get to know each other safely.
In other cases, biological parents can be invited to meet with the adoptee and his or her adoptive family. These instances happen in open adoptions and when it is in the best interest of everyone involved to meet. Sadly, not all adoptees can meet their biological parents. In some cases, it is unwise or unsafe for the adoptee. In other cases, the adoption is closed and there is no contact. However, even in these cases, there are some ways to feel united and they are included below.
Write a Letter
Exchanging letters is a great way to keep up to date with each member of the adoption triad. When I was young, I was very close with my cousin. She moved all the way across the country and it saddened me. When we started to exchange letters, receiving letters in the mail always gave me something to look forward to, and I continued to feel very close to her even though we were physically very far apart. Each member of the adoption triad can experience this as well by staying connected through letters.
If your adoption triad is part of a semi-open adoption, you can write letters and send pictures through the adoption attorney or adoption agency. If you are in an open adoption, you can even exchange addresses and send letters directly. This is a great way to stay connected, but it also helps create a little emotional distance. For some adoption triads, this is the best solution to stay united. Birth parents may struggle with losing the role of day-to-day parenting and it may be challenging for them to be too involved in the adoptive family’s life. So, occasional letters and pictures may be the best solution to help them maintain a balance between contact with the adoptive family and autonomy at the same time.
Of course, the same can be true for an adoptive parent or an adoptee. An adoptee may struggle with having both birth parents and adoptive parents. The adoptee may feel protective of his or her adoptive parents or they may be angry at his or her adoptive parents and cling to the birth parents. In either case, being too close can cause conflict and contention within the adoption triad. Working with every member of the triad’s comfort level and at a pace that they can handle is key to knowing how much connection should be pursued. Starting with letters and social media connections is a great way to assess everyone’s comfort level.
Think Kind Thoughts
Sometimes a semi-open or open adoption is not possible. There are times when a child is adopted and his or her parents cannot remain in contact with the adoptee for safety reasons. The birth parents may have made poor choices or face addiction problems. In cases like this, it can seem impossible to stay united or close to the birth parents. Although staying in contact is not in the best interest of the adoptee, you can still find other ways to be united. You can pray for the birth parents so that they may be able to overcome poor habits or addictions. You can pray that they find happiness and that they have a good life. If you are not a praying person, you can simply think kind thoughts about or for them. These sorts of thoughts can help you find peace with that member of the adoption triad.
Another thing you can do is try to find the positive attributes about the birth parents. Contact their parents, if possible, to learn happy stories about the birth parents. Finding the good in a person is a great way to feel united with them. It also helps to forgive them. People make mistakes and forgiveness can be incredibly hard, but forgiveness frees the person offering it from the bitterness and anger of holding onto the painful past.
Young children are always asking questions because they want to understand the world around them. Asking questions about the other members of the adoption triad helps you understand them. So go for it. Questions provide wonderful opportunities to get to know each other better. There is a word of caution on this, though. Be respectful of the person to whom you are asking the questions. No one should be forced to answer questions that are overly personal or that they do not want to answer. Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to sharing personal information. Respecting a person’s level of openness will increase their comfort level with you. No matter what each person is comfortable with, love them and accept what they can give.
This idea is possible in an open or semi-open adoption, but when you are part of a closed adoption it is impossible to ask these questions. In the case of a closed adoption, I would recommend writing down the questions that you have. There was a time when I was unable to ask someone I loved questions because our level of communication was limited. I wrote down a list of questions for that person and when I was finally able to ask them, I did. It helped me to think about the questions even if I couldn’t get answers right then. The same is true for people in the adoption triad, simply writing down questions that you have will be therapeutic, and who knows maybe someday you can ask them.
There are important dates that each member of the adoption triad celebrates such as birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and holidays. If you are in a semi-open or open adoption, remembering those special dates and acknowledging them is a great way to stay united. As a birth parent, you can send the adoptee a card or present on their birthday. If you are an adoptive parent you can send a thank you letter to the birth parent on the adoptee’s birthday or the adoption day. Anniversaries of the adoptive parents or birth parents can also be acknowledged. Honestly, any special occasion can be acknowledged with a telephone call, letter, card, or present. When special dates are remembered, it makes each member of the triad feel closer together and it provides a way to show love and caring for that member. So, write the dates down or keep in contact and learn the special events that will be coming up for each member of the adoption triad.
The greatest gift a prospective adoptive parent can receive is the blessing of a child to adopt. There is no possible way to fully repay the birth parents for that gift, but that doesn’t mean that the adoptive parent can’t try. Sending thank you, birthday, and Christmas presents is a great way to show appreciation and love for the birth parents. These gifts can relate to the adoptee or they can be specific for that adoptive parent. In either case, it is a wonderful thing to send the birth parents gifts.
Anyone in the adoption triad is welcome to send gifts to the other members. It doesn’t need to be the adoptive parents alone. The birth parents can send the adoptee presents or the adoptive parents if they like. Uniting the adoption triad through the love of gift-giving may seem like a one-time occurrence, but it is not. Every time that gift is looked at, played with, or remembered the love behind that gift is felt afresh. So, send that picture book, necklace, tie, painting, book, etc, and spread the love. Sending gifts is a great way to unite the adoption triad.
Creating boundaries is necessary for being able to safely navigate the challenges of life. Without boundaries, people feel a loss of control in their life and it can lead to a lower sense of self-worth. Understanding and respecting the reasonable boundaries that others create is a great way to show them that you love them. When an adoptive parent worries about their adoptive child spending too much time with their biological parent, the best thing a biological parent can do is respect the boundaries regarding the amount of time they spend communicating with the adoptee or adoptive parents. When it is difficult for a biological parent to be involved in his or her child’s life and he or she needs space to heal emotionally, respecting those boundaries that are established is the best way to show you care. When the adoptive child cannot have contact with their biological family, respecting the boundaries and level of openness for every party in the adoption triad is still a great way to show that you love and respect them. That does not mean that a closed adoption can’t change or that life circumstances won’t change so that it is safe to communicate. Sometimes, these boundaries can be flexible.
Understanding the changing boundaries and flexibility of the members of the adoption triad is the key to uniting fractured relationships. There may be a time when a very open adoption changes to semi-open or when a semi-open adoption changes to an open adoption. An adoptee may need to know who his or her birth parents are and a closed adoption may need to become open. Doing your best to make sure that every member of the adoption triad is okay and ready for the change is ideal. Sometimes these changes can be a great thing. Be flexible with the changing boundaries and learn to adapt because each change is another opportunity to listen to the other members of the adoption triad’s needs and meet them.
Becoming a part of the adoption triad is challenging since there are many different emotions and insecurities that each member may feel. Uniting the adoption triad is something that takes work and will look different for every person. Feel free to use any of the ways listed above to help unite your adoption triad. Additionally, let us know any ways that you have found to unite the adoption triad. We would love to hear about your success and learn from your mistakes.