Should I Set Boundaries in An Open Adoption?

An open adoption is a wonderful way to make sure that you let your child know that you understand that adoption is difficult on children, and you respect his or her roots. Many adoptees grow up wanting to know their biological families; keeping in contact with biological families will facilitate this. However, even open adoptions should come with a list of rules. These rules don’t necessarily need to be shared with the biological parents, but they should govern interactions with biological parents. Here are some boundaries I believe are critical in an open adoption.

  1. Do not give out private information about your family. All that the biological family needs to have are frequent updates on what your child is doing. You can tell them your child’s favorite subject in school, extracurricular activities, and even invite them to these events. If there is any sort of conflict between you and the biological family that would be detrimental to your child to witness, then I would not suggest inviting the biological parents to events.
  2. Do send pictures of your child, but not of your other children and other family members.
  3. Set up rules about the information your biological parents are allowed to share, for example, you may request that they not post pictures of your child on social media or share how your child is doing on social media.
  4. Do not invite the biological parents over to your home. This can muddy the waters over who is the parent.
  5. Do not allow the biological parents to be alone with your children or allow your children to go to the home of biological parents. Again, this can be confusing to the child, and in extreme cases could lead to a dangerous situation.
  6. Do not share personal information about your child such as health information, financial information, bank accounts set up for your child, social security numbers, etc. You do not want biological parents stealing information that could damage your child’s future. 
  7. Do not give the biological parents large gifts or money. Handmade gifts from your children may be acceptable, but if the biological parent is asking for money or things like TVs or cell phones, then they are manipulating the situation. If you are adopting through an adoption agency, the agency will provide things such as gas cards, and food to ensure the health of a pregnant mother, and transportation to doctor’s appointments.

An open adoption can be a wonderful experience. Make sure you speak with an attorney or your agency to find out the laws about what an open adoption entails. In some states like TN, there is no legal requirement to have an open adoption, and if an adoption is to be open, and the adopted family decides they no longer want to have an open adoption, then they are legally allowed to cut off contact with the family with no repercussions. Discuss with your spouse what are your non-negotiables before you sign any open adoptions papers.