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“What does adoption mean to a child?”

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Building a Relationship with the Adoptive Family

How to Create a Lifelong Bond During Your Pregnancy

Communication between prospective birth mothers and adoptive families is increasingly common in the modern-day adoption process. This connection is called “open adoption” or “semi-open adoption,” depending on the amount and frequency of contact. But, just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s easy.

As with any relationship, communicating with the adoptive family takes work. Building a lasting friendship with anyone is rarely easy. This situation can seem even more difficult than usual — you are bonded in a unique and powerful way through adoption.

Many women who choose adoption feel anxious about creating a trusting bond with the adoptive family. Some wonder how it works and what their options are, while others are unsure of how to proceed with this relationship.

There’s good news: We know it can be done. Over more than 25 years of serving expectant mothers in the adoption process, we’ve seen open adoptions blossom into lifelong friendships. Through intentional effort from both sides, open adoption can become a foundation connection pre-placement and lasting relationship for the rest of life.

Here’s how.

Pre-Placement Contact: The Beginning of a Long Journey

When you choose adoption for your baby, one of the first things you will do is create an adoption plan. You’ll do this with the help of an adoption specialist. This plan involves a lot of decisions, and one of them is how much contact you want to have with the adoptive family now and after the adoption.

You’re in charge of the adoption process, so this is totally up to you. Some women want to have a completely open adoption, with face-to-face interaction and regular in-person visits. Many others choose semi-open adoption, where communication happens via email, text, phone conversation and letters.  You should choose what feels best for you when creating your plan.

Pre-placement contact can be incredibly beneficial during the process. It helps you get to know the family, which can give you a sense of confidence and peace about who you chose to adopt your baby. It’s also the building block of a lasting relationship post-placement.

Post-Placement Communication: A Lasting Connection

After you have given birth and officially consented to adoption, the baby will be placed with the adoptive family. The family then has about six more months of post-placement visits and other requirements before receiving their final decree of adoption from a court.

The time immediately following placement can be sensitive and emotional for everyone. It is also the time when your relationship with the adoptive family takes its next step — moving into post-placement communication.

Post-placement communication can happen in many ways, and, just like pre-placement contact, it is up to you to decide how you’d like this to go. Many birth mothers choose to receive photo and letter updates, or to communicate through email, text, phone calls and video chats. Others may choose in-person visits and completely open contact.

We know that as a woman choosing adoption for your baby, you have hopes and dreams for them. This choice comes from love. Post-placement contact can bring a sense of lasting peace as you witness the opportunity and love your child receives from their adoptive family.

Building a Relationship: Ways to Create a Lasting Bond

As we said earlier, building a long-lasting relationship is hard. You may feel awkward navigating an open adoption. The bond you share with the adoptive parents is unique and full of emotion. What are the best ways to create a genuine, sustained relationship?

While every situation looks different, here are some things you can do pre- and post-placement to strengthen this connection:


  • Be proactive in establishing your adoption plan with your adoption specialist

  • Start communicating early — don’t wait until you are almost ready to give birth

  • Consider sending pictures of sonograms and other updates

  • Communicate around big life moments, like holidays or birthdays


  • Initially give space — you both need it to process the emotions of placing a baby for adoption and, on the adoptive family side, starting a new family

  • Send encouraging messages as the adoptive parents’ life completely changes

  • Try to be flexible, understanding that life does change and some seasons may involve more communication than others

  • Trust the family to continue to work on this relationship as hard as you are

These are some of the things you can do to help create a good relationship with the adoptive family. But, you’re only half of the equation. The family has a lot they can do, as well. One way you can be confident that the adoptive family will be proactive in this relationship is by working with American Adoptions.

We thoroughly screen all of our families, who are all required to be willing to accept at least a semi-open adoption. Through our process, we only present you with adoptive family profiles of families whose desires for open adoption match your own. Building a strong open adoption relationship takes work on your end and on the family’s side. With American Adoptions, you can be confident you will only be presented with great families.

Learn More about Building an Open Adoption Relationship

You aren’t alone when you choose adoption. You are supported by all the resources our agency has to offer, and you receive guidance from an adoption specialist throughout the process. You likely have more questions about building a strong open adoption relationship, and our specialists are the perfect people to ask.

You can request more adoption information at any time or speak to a specialist today by calling 1-800-ADOPTION.  

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

While not every woman who chooses adoption is a young mother, many are. Through adoption, many young women have found an ability to give their babies the best life possible, while finding the opportunity to realize their own dreams, as well. Call American Adoptions today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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