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Last Thursday we posted about the importance of reaching out to your adoption agency to ask for annual meetings or updates, and we stressed that the door is always open for contact, no matter how long it’s been. We let you know that even if you did not make a written contact agreement as part of your child’s adoption plan, you still have the right to ask for openness, and that any ethical agency will do its best to get you at least a letter or picture update from your child’s adoptive family.
So, let’s say you’ve contacted your adoption agency, or you’ve written a letter or e-mail to your child and their family. Now what? Waiting for a response after you’ve reached out can be difficult. Sometimes it takes an adoptive family a couple of weeks or a month to get back to a birth parent, and in some cases, it takes years. In the meantime, it is important that you take care of yourself so that you do not become consumed by feelings of helplessness or anxiety. Try to remember that there are many reasons why it might take a family some time to respond to a request for contact, and that many of those reasons have nothing at all to do with you; families can get very busy, and they all go through rough patches. We have worked with several families who, because of what was going on in their lives, were initially unresponsive to birth parents’ requests for contact, but who turned out to be very open minded about keeping in touch. It might also help to remember that after your child turns 18 or 21, you will be able to reach out to them directly (these ages correspond to the laws in DC and Maryland, respectively). This might seem like a long way away, but sometimes it helps just to know that this option will be available no matter what happens.
Also remember that this is uncharted territory for adoptive parents, too, and if you haven’t been in touch before now, then they, just like you, are new to this. They, too, are probably nervous; they, too, are likely to be concerned about making a good impression. And in the same way it might have taken you months or years to work up the courage to write them a note, they might need time to get their bearings and become comfortable with the idea of being in touch with you. That doesn’t mean it will never happen! A little bit of patience and understanding on your end might just go a long way for your future relationship. The fact is that adoption is a lifelong process for everyone, including adoptive parents, and in order for communication to happen, you will all need to be patient with one another.
Are you a birth parent currently waiting to hear back from your child’s adoptive family? Have you gone through this process in the past? Tell us about your experiences!