Ask AF: Different Levels of Contact

An AF reader asked how to explain different levels of birth mother contact to her children. Our expert answers!

Q: Our six-year-old son has contact with his birth family. Our four-year-old daughter was abandoned at the hospital at birth. After a recent meeting with our son’s birth family, our daughter asked when she can meet her birth family. Should we stop taking her with us on these visits? Is it just confusing her?

A: Your experience is shared by many adoptive parents of two or more children. Of course, it would be ideal if the type and frequency of birth parent contact were the same for all of their children, but that usually isn’t true, even for families in which all the adoptions are open.

I encourage you to continue to include your daughter in visits with your son’s birth mother. She can, in effect, become the “family birth mother.” Talk with your son’s birth mother about this and ask for her help in assuming this role. Young children need concrete information, not abstract concepts. Your son’s birth mother can provide that concrete reality for your daughter and help her understand adoption and birth mothers.

If you have any information about your daughter’s birth mother, share it with her, discussing similarities to and differences from your son’s birth mother. If your daughter expresses sadness that she doesn’t have contact with her birth mother, you can say that you are sad about that, too, and that maybe someday it will be possible.

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Ask AF: How to Cope with the Disappointment of Not Being Chosen by an Expectant Mother