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You may have been counting on always living in the same general area as your child’s adoptive family; their location may even have been part of the reason you chose them. But life is unpredictable, and things change. They – or you – may get a new job opportunity, need to be near family or friends, or be called to move somewhere different for another important reason.
Changes like these can be jarring, but they don’t have to mean the end of your openness agreement. Below are three ways you can ensure that you remain a part of your child’s life despite the distance.
1.Be open and honest.
Sometimes, birth parents don’t tell us or their child’s adoptive family that they are planning to move because they are worried about our or the family’s reaction. But everyone understands that people’s lives change, and the only way anyone will be upset about your relocation will be if you don’t tell them, because then they won’t know how to get in touch with you!
2. Trust and reevaluate.
Every relationship requires trust and regular reevaluation of how to make sure everyone is getting what they need. Unexpected hurdles are normal and they do not need to result in the end of the relationship; they simply mean you will need to reevaluate how (not whether) your adoption will remain open. We don’t mean to make this sound easy; it’s hardly ever easy to trust someone, and you may feel betrayed by your child’s family if they are the ones moving. Unfortunately, as you know, life almost never goes as planned, and families have to make difficult decisions. So even though it may be tough, try to remember that your relationship with your child’s family is just that: a relationship. In order for it to work, you have to trust them to do their part, no matter how many miles separate you. And we’re not only saying this to you – we send adoptive families the same message, and they usually understand that if they are going to move, they will still need to return to the area for visits and/or do whatever else they agreed to in order to maintain openness.
3.Use technology. Today’s technology makes it practically impossible not to stay up to date on other people’s lives! If your or your child’s family’s move presents an obstacle to having annual meetings, talk with them and/or your agency about using Skype or another video chatting platform in order to get that face-to-face time. If that’s not possible, maybe you can change things up so that instead of having, say, one letter-and-picture update and one visit per year, you could have four letter-and-picture updates per year. We also encourage the birth parents and adoptive families with whom we work with to use Child Connect, a web-based system that allows you and your child’s family to upload and view pictures, letters, and videos from any computer with an Internet connection. If you don’t have Internet access, you can still receive printed letters and pictures through the program. And, in case the texting craze has caused you to forget, actual telephone calls are always an option, too!
If you keep these suggestions in mind, there is no reason, in our opinion, why an increased distance between you and your child’s family should negatively impact your open adoption or relationship with them. But what do you think? Do you have an open but long-distance adoption? Or do you live in the same area as your child? Tell us what your relationship is like in the comments section below!