Having a relationship with your child’s birth families is an amazing, but unfortunately very rare, gift for an adopted child. If you are blessed to have this relationship, let birth parents know you appreciate them often.
1. Reach out to them on your child’s birthday and Mother’s Day/Father’s Day
Your child’s birthday and Mother’s Day/Father’s Day are two of the toughest days of the year for birth parents. They’re unlikely to receive support from anyone else. A quick message goes a long way. As your child gets older, include him/her in making a card or gift. Depending on the nature of your relationship, consider including birth parents in your festivities or celebrating with them on a different day. Maybe birth parents aren’t comfortable attending a large family gathering but would love to have lunch with your immediate family the following day.
2. Follow through on your promises to post monthly updates, meet for lunch, etc.
When you commit to posting monthly updates or sending monthly pictures, stand by your commitment. Making birth families wait a few days or worse, leaving them hanging with no update or pictures, may prove devastating. I recommend putting together this content at least a few days in advance, so you’re never up against a deadline. When you have an outing planned, arrive on time. If you do have to cancel, make every effort to reschedule in a timely fashion.
3. Include them in your Christmas card list
The simple gesture of sending birth families the same Christmas card you send to close family and friends lets them know you think of them as family, too. While they may not want the first Christmas card, in which you announce your adoption, they will appreciate receiving subsequent Christmas cards.
4. Send cards or little gifts for birthdays and holidays
In addition to your child’s birthday, remember their own birthdays as well. At a minimum, send a text message or put a card in the mail. If you live in close proximity, offer to take them out for a lunch. Send a quick message on Christmas and other major holidays, too. Letting birth parents know that you’re thinking about them in the midst of family celebrations is so meaningful.
5. Reach out to see how they’re doing just because
Contacting birth parents for no particular reason may prove just as meaningful or even moreso when it’s out of the blue than when it’s for a special occasion. If you’re feeling called to contact them just because, most likely it’s for a reason. Getting a “hope you’re having a good day” text or a quick, cute picture of your child with a “Happy Monday!” message may be exactly what they need on a tough day.
6. Print out pictures of your child
In an age where most people take and view all of their photos on a screen barely bigger than a credit card, printed pictures are so special. You don’t have to own a DSLR or know how to take amazing pictures to create printed photos that your child’s birth family will love.
7. Send them pictures of your child with gifts (wearing outfits, playing with toys)
Your birth family can, and should, give gifts to your child and family as they feel it’s appropriate to do so. Show your appreciation for these gifts by snapping a few pictures and sending them along when your child plays with one of their toys or wears one of their outfits.
8. Include them in group texts and emails with little updates and pictures
When you send a group text message or email to family members or close friends about your child, include the birth family in the message. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with sending separate messages, especially if you’re trying to protect their identity. But if your relationship allows for it, including them in the group makes them feel like part of the family.
9. Tell them how much your child reminds you of them
Pointing out a likeness in appearance or describing a similiar facial experience or speaking mannerism will never get old to birth families, even when it’s the smallest detail. Acknowledge and celebrate these similarities to let your adopted children know that they should be proud of their roots.
10. Pass along homemade pictures and art projects
The next time you find yourself drowning in your child’s artwork and craft projects but don’t want to throw any of it away, select a few pieces for birth family members. You may even want to start a special binder or folder where you can round up pictures and then pass them along periodically.
Finally, keep it real. Birth parents don’t choose adoptive parents because they think that they’re perfect or that they’ll raise perfect kids. Don’t be afraid to show them the less than perfect elements of your life. Don’t hold back on sharing the less than perfect things that your child does. On a smaller level, don’t feel like the updates and pictures you share need to be perfect. Sometimes an outtake video or cute but grainy, blurry cell phone snap is sweeter than a professional shot.
Adoptive parents, are there are other ways you let birth parents know you appreciate them?
I’d love to hear your input!