Ask AF: Continuing Contact with the Birth Family?

Keeping contact with the birth family, when possible, will help your child understand that she's supported on all sides by a network of love.

Q: We recently adopted a seven-year-old boy. While he was in the orphanage, he had direct contact with extended family. We were given their contact information and have e-mailed them since coming home. We haven’t told our son yet, because we don’t want to disrupt his attachment. When should we tell him?


A: Since your son had direct contact with his extended family, I think that closing off that connection, even for a while, would make him question his worth — “Doesn’t my family care for me anymore? Did they forget me?”

I cannot see how letting your son know that his birth family still cares and has asked about him would be harmful, though I don’t think you need to mention yet that you have an e-mail link. Instead, let him write or dictate a letter, choose photos of himself, or draw a picture to send them.

Children can love many people, even as they develop or keep a primary bond with their parents. Remember, these birth family members didn’t parent him before, and they aren’t parenting him now. Let him know that they are happy and excited about his new family, and that you are all forming a network of love around him.


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