Ask AF: Differences in Openness

If you've adopted more than one child, it can be tough to explain differences in birth parent contact, particularly to young children.

Q: Our six-year-old daughter’s birth mother has visited our home several times. We email our four-year-old son’s birth mother, but do not have visits. (Visits are really not an option, because of geography and other private factors.) How can we explain the difference in contact to our son?


A: Sit down with your son and create a quick family tree, showing how, when you and your partner got married, you took each other’s families as in-laws. Now, all of your brothers and sisters are his, and all of his are yours. Say that, in adoption, a similar thing happens — both of your children’s birth families belong to all four of you. Then, explain that some of your relatives live nearby and others live far away. Some you see often, and some you don’t. The same is true for birth families. His sister’s birth mom is able to visit, but his hasn’t been able to yet. But all of everyone’s family belong to everyone else.

You might speak about this with your daughter’s birth mom. I’ve worked with birth mothers in similar situations, helping them to understand this and recommending that they spend time with both kids during visits.

Know that you are doing what you can do, and that is all that can be done. Also, keep the door open, because people and circumstances change.

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