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Ask AF: Birth Grandparent Contact?

by Kathleen Silber, MSW, ACSW

Have a question? Ask our panel of experts.

Q: We don't have contact with our baby's birthparents, by mutual consent. When the birthfather's mother learned about the adoption, a few months after the fact, she asked to meet with us for "closure." However, she is now asking for ongoing contact. Should we say yes? The birth grandmother is clearly sad about the adoption, so I worry about how being exposed to these feelings will affect my daughter as she grows.

A: I understand your concern. Right now the birth grandmother is grieving, but these emotions will subside in time. The birthparents are grieving, too, but you aren't witnessing their grief because you aren't in contact. In general, birth families work through the normal grief process much more quickly and easily in open adoption.

Even though you're not in regular contact with the birthparents, they need to weigh in on birth grandparent contact. If they are comfortable with it, I recommend that you be open to it. Contact with at least some of her birth family will be important to your daughter in the future. That being said, it's important to have clear expectations. If you decide to have ongoing contact with this birth grandparent, you should set boundaries as to the frequency and type of contact you are comfortable with—such as visits once or twice per year—from the start.

--Kathleen Silber, MSW, ACSW
Coauthor of
Dear Birthmother and the associate executive director of the Independent Adoption Center, Pleasant Hill, California

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