January 10, 2023

Tips for navigating a relationship with biological parents

Depending on how your adoption unfolds, your child may retain contact with his or her biological parents. This is often seen in the context of an open adoption or an adoption in which a post-adoption contact agreement is negotiated, the latter of which can be a great way to provide reassurance to a biological parent while providing your child with the familial connect that he or she may need.

However, your and your child’s relationship with the biological parents may become strained over time. The biological parents may fail to adhere to the post-adoption contact agreement, or they may make statements that you think are harmful to the child. How do you navigate these issues? Here are some tips that we hope you will find helpful.

  • Put expectations in writing: Many expectations can be covered by a post-adoption contact agreement. Also, as life changes, so will your relationship with the biological parents. By having expectations agreed to in writing, you can refer back to them to make sure that everyone is on the same page. This may include matters such as what the child will call the biological parents and whether the biological parent can spend time alone with the child.
  • Seek outside help navigating challenging issues: If you and the biological parents cannot seem to get along or agree on an issue that is important to your child, you may need to seek outside help. This could come in the form of a third-party mediator.
  • Expect biological parents to pull away: Immediately following your adoption, the biological parents may be actively engaged with you. But, as time goes on, their communication may decrease, or they may be hard to locate. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It may simply be an indication that the biological parents are now comfortable with you raising the child and they are simply moving on with their own lives. This does not happen frequently, but do not interpret this as a biological parent not caring about the child.
  • Don’t be afraid to renegotiate: Your life changes and so do the lives of the biological parents. This means that what once may have seemed like a workable arrangement may become impossible. In these instances, it might reduce tension to reach out to the biological parent to see if you can renegotiate what contact with the child will look like. Again, this will set clear expectations, which will hopefully reduce conflict.
  • Set boundaries and stick to them: Even if you want an open adoption, you need to focus on your family and what is right for your child.
  • Be flexible: Despite what is said above, you need to be willing to be flexible if you want to build a relationship with the child’s biological parent.
  • Be forgiving: We all make mistakes. Try not to hold a biological parents’ mistakes against them unless they are ongoing and having a negative impact on the child.
  • Remember to keep the focus on the child: At the end of the day, the focus always needs to revert back to what is best for the child. You can set aside any relationship differences you have with the biological parent if doing so means it best supports your child.

Reach out for legal help when needed

If you face challenges that you are not able to address on your own, it may be time to reach out for legal assistance. After all, an attorney who is experienced in adoption law may be able to help you head off some of the difficulties sometimes seen in open adoptions and adoptions with post-adoption contact agreements. Therefore, if you would like to learn more about what a legal advocate can do to assist you, please consider reaching out to a legal time like ours for more information.