Any relationship can be tricky, however very few relationships will be as tricky as those within an open adoption. It's a delicate balance between the family of origin and the adoptive family. If all sides keep the adoptee as the center of the relationship and the reason for the continued contact, an open adoption may be one of the most important relationships in your and your child's life.
Locate understanding, supportive people. There will be times when you may need a reality check and a supportive, understanding friend will come in handy. Choose someone who understands open adoptions and adoption issues. This support person needs to be able to give gentle reminders that the relationship you have with the other member of the adoption triad is for the good of your child.
Allow room for emotions. Not just the adoptee's emotions, but your own. This is when your support person will come in handy. Contact that person and vent away. Regarding the adoptee, remember that just because the adoptee is sad after contact from birth family, does not mean that the contact was negative. Conversely, don't be intimidated by an adoptee's happiness or excitement after contact. Contact someone who understands your own complex emotions so that you can be supportive of your child's own mixed bag of feelings.
Educate yourself on adoption issues. Keep up to date on adoption issues and needs within the adoption community. Join forums and speak to other members of the adoption triad. Try to understand all sides of the various issues.
Be ready to adjust boundaries and visitation around the needs of the adoptee, not your needs. There may be times when contact may need to be adjusted, for a variety of reasons. Perhaps in-person visitation needs to be restricted to letters or phone calls. Sometimes it's because of a triad member's drug or alcohol issues or the adoptee's counselor feels it's best for visits to change.
Don't shut off contact on a whim. We're all human and sometimes when we get irritated it just seems easier to walk away. Do not do this when it comes to the open adoption arrangement. There may be times when your ego may need to take a back seat to what is best for the adoptee. When thoughts of ending contact cross your mind, sleep on it for a day or two. Speak to your support people. Things may look differently with time and communication.
Maintain open and honest communication will all parties of the open adoption. If contact must change, please be open with the other members of the open adoption. Be respectful of the other person when letting them know that things must be adjusted. It would also be appropriate to state the reasons for the change.
Acknowledge the adoptee's basic need to know his roots. Open adoptions do not lead to weaker bonds or attachments for adoptees. Open adoptions allow the adoptee to grow up feeling that there is no need to search or that there are missing pieces to their lives.
When done well, open adoptions can be very healthy and beneficial to all involved.