Ask AF: "We Don't Hear Back from My Child's Birth Mother..."

"In the beginning, my son's birth mother seemed to want a lot of contact. I send photos or updates about once a week. She hasn’t seen him in a year, however, and her family hasn’t seen him since birth. Should I back off?"

Q: I’ve always felt that I wanted my child’s birth mother to be as involved in my son’s life as she wanted to be. In the beginning, she seemed to want a lot of contact. My son is two years old now, and I usually send her photos once a week and text her about all major milestones. She has an open invitation to visit us at home with a few week notice, and we’ve told her family that we’d be happy to set up meetings several times a year. But, she just doesn’t seem interested. She hasn’t seen him in a year and her family hasn’t seen him since birth. Should I back off? Any thoughts?

Members of adoptivefamiliescircle.com respond:

“It could be that that is a chapter of her life she wants to put behind her. Or she could enjoy every little update and picture, but just not know what to say or do in response; she may be afraid of intruding in your life or fear saying the wrong thing. Or, it might all be very painful for her, and every update might be a bittersweet reminder of what she doesn’t have. I would write her a letter, telling her that you are happy to continue doing what you do now, but that you don’t want to overwhelm her by sharing too much. Her thoughts about openness when you first made your adoption agreement might be very different from the way she feels now that some time has passed. I would ask her what level of contact she would like and go from there. If you don’t get a response, I would keep the lines of communication open, but maybe not send updates quite as frequently.”

“I don’t think you need to specify a change, as she and her family are not ‘taking advantage’ of openness. But, if it were me, I would slowly back off some, perhaps to monthly pictures and updates. Keep in mind that your child’s first mom has a life without you. She needs time to heal and emotionally adjust to her decision. Consider starting a secret Facebook group with just the two of you in it, so you can post the updates and pictures and she can check it when she wants to. This way, you won’t overwhelm her.”

“The question that popped to my mind was—how far do you live from one another? Perhaps it’s difficult for them to physically get to you? Would you be willing to go to her for a visit? If so, I wonder whether telling her that would make a difference?”

“She is not saying, ‘Stop sending the pictures,’ so I wouldn’t stop. You might ask her if she is a member of any support groups on Facebook or online. I know there’s a group called BirthMom Buds. She may find something like that helpful. And perhaps it is just too hard for her. I think I would try to write a letter emphasizing you are trying to do what is best for her. ”

“Open adoption is a tightrope walk of being respectful toward the birth family while maintaining contact for your child. I would not close off contact or back off, but keep up the same level while being respectful of the birth family. Remember that you are doing this for your child. It is you who will be answering those questions about contact when he is a teen.”

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