Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Adoption Etiquette - Installment 5

Find Installments 1, 2, 3, and 4.

"My loved ones are bringing their child's birthparents to a family event for the first time. I am really nervous to meet them and need an idea of what to say."

First of all, realize that in an open adoption, the birthparents have likely supported the adoption fully. They're not there to kidnap the child. That's probably the #1 fear we have faced as adoptive parents so far, that people hear the word, "birthparent" and think "adversary".

Every open adoption is different, so there are no fast and hard rules, but generally I tell people to consider birthparents and extended birthfamily as a new set of "in-laws". Welcome them with a hug or a handshake. They are there to celebrate the child, and it takes a lot of courage to meet and speak to the adoptive family's support network. The more you can help make them feel welcome, the more you are helping your loved ones build a relationship with them, and that's a wonderful gift.

Some talking points for the nervous:
1. Mention specific features or characteristics that the child shares with his birthparents.
2. Talk about how much you love and enjoy the child and share anecdotes.
3. Tell them what a wonderful family they chose for their child and name specific parenting skills or experiences the child has had ("They are so patient with her!" "They take him swimming every week and read books every night."). But don't lie or embellish, obviously!
4. Reinforce that the adoptive family is so thankful and joyful for this child
5. Recognize that it might have been hard for them to come today but that you are so glad for a chance to meet the amazing person who gave this child a life and gave your loved ones a child to love.
6. Get to know them as individuals. You may find similar tastes in movies, hobbies, etc.

Please avoid saying:
1. "I don't know how you could make a sacrifice like that"/"I could never give up a child."
2. Don't ask why they had to make an adoption plan for their child - it can be an extremely painful and personal story that they may not want to recount to a near stranger. They will share it if they want to.

I've enjoyed working on this series of adoption etiquette and hope it helped at least one person support their friends or family. Add a comment if you have another question about adoption etiquette, and I'll be happy to add another post on the topic.

1 comment:

  1. being a birth grandma this post is most appreciated!!! thank you for helping those who might not understand the process of open adoption,this post makes it easily understandable. Thanks again