How to Maintain Family Boundaries in an Open Adoption
Every year in the United States, about 135,000 children are adopted. Of those adoptions, around 67 percent are at least partially open. When you go through the process of an adoption agreement with the birth mother or birth parents, it’s important to set up the parameters of how open the adoption will be, how frequent the interactions will be, and what types of interactions you’ll allow the biological parents and family to have with your child.
Determine the Types of Allowed Interactions
Your adoption agreement should determine the types of allowed interactions. For example, you might prefer that the adoptive parents write letters or call your child over the phone. You may want to disallow text messages and unannounced visits at your home. Your adoption agreement can detail the types of allowed interactions. This type of boundary setting ensures that everyone understands the expectations for communication.
Think About the Frequency and Timing of Interactions
You may also want to consider the frequency and timing of the interactions between the biological parents of your child and your family. If you adopt a newborn, then the biological parents might want updates about the child’s development. As the child gets older, the biological parents might want a semiannual or yearly update about the child’s health, interests, and overall well-being. The biological parents might also want to send a birthday card, or your child might want to send a Mother’s Day card to his or her biological mother. You may need to account for all of these issues in the adoption agreement.
Establish Rules and Guidelines for Behavior
You may also want to control the subject matter of written communications and discussions with your child’s biological parents. Setting this type of behavior guideline allows you to broach sensitive subjects on your timeline. Your family will be less likely to have to deal with controversial subjects if you can agree in advance to not discuss them. For example, your child’s biological mother may not want the child to know that the pregnancy was the result of an assault. You may not want the biological mother to ask your child about whether you’re raising the child to have a particular type of belief system. Your adoption agreement could include topics such as not condemning the other’s religious beliefs.
Put the Focus on the Child’s Well-Being
Another consideration for setting boundaries with the biological parents of your child is putting the focus on the child’s well-being. Your child should be put first even if it makes you uncomfortable. Whether or not you agree with the biological parents’ lifestyle, past behavior, or current behavior shouldn’t matter. The focus of every interaction should be the development of a relationship that benefits your child now and well into the future.
Determine Interactions as the Child Grows
When your child becomes a tween or a teenager, he or she is likely to have more of his or her own opinions about interacting with his or her biological parents. Teens test boundaries within the home, and they may push against some of your established rules. You may need to re-evaluate some boundaries on an as-needed basis. Once your child reaches the age of 18, you’ll no longer be able to set or maintain rules for the types, frequency, and depth of interaction between him or her and the biological parents.
Working with a PA adoption lawyer allows you to have these boundaries clearly established in your adoption agreement with your child’s biological parents. As a Pennsylvania adoption lawyer, Donald C. Cofsky looks forward to representing you throughout the adoption process. Contact us at the Law Office of Cofsky & Zeidman by phone at (215) 563-2150 in order to schedule a consultation with our PA adoption lawyer in Philadelphia.