Episode 78 – Birth Parent Visit

We experienced our first post-adoption visit with Andrea and Linda’s birth mother.  Our first step into open adoption was a bit nerve-racking beforehand, but it went better than we  expected.

11 thoughts on “Episode 78 – Birth Parent Visit

  1. This was such a hopeful podcast! I am a pre-adoptive parent now to my FD but we are so scared that Mom will come after my family. It is nice to know that it could change in the future. I LOVE the art idea I will need to try that.

  2. What you have done is wonderful for these girls!

    From the podcasts I have listened to I know you have taken measures to ensure the privacy of the girls. (I hope the picture of the parents at the top of the page is not the real parents!)

    With this in mind please consider how small the Internet has made this world and the possibility that Linda’s “toilet” issues may end up in the hands of a teenage brother or sister of a friend she knows at school or some other unforeseen scenario.

    It would be awful for Linda if something got overlooked, in your effort to ensure privacy, that ended up being used to tease her.

  3. I understand J’s concerns on future teasing… but I think you are sensitive w/ the potty issues AND I think it is important for future foster parents to hear so as not to be shocked by possible issues.

    My hubby and I plan to foster in the next year or so, but I used to work @ a emergency shelter – and remember how important the toilet issues were to connecting to abuse/neglect/emotional issues.

  4. hello again T & W,

    It’s great to hear about your family’s meeting with Carmen!

    You have taught me so much about love and parenting and faith over the years I’ve been listening to this podcast. You’ve really changed my ideas of what family can be.

    Thank you for everything you do. And thanks also for keeping us posted on the girls progress. I think about your family often.


  5. I feel so fortunate that your family is ahead of ours in terms of birth parent visits. We too believe that creating a bond between birth parents is important, but were wondering how and when to do it. We are finalizing our adoption this June and were wondering when we should contact the birth parents. We have been meeting with his brothers, who have been adopted out, at the park monthly, however our social worker said we should wait at least 6 months before meeting his birth parents after finalization. We already set up a PO Box and a separate email account for communication. I love the idea that you told the parents not to bring things to the visit. Having just recently finished birth parent visits with a social worker, I am quite familiar with going home with toys and candy. I also think it is important to limit the number of people allowed to see the child at the first few visits. I envision eventual birthday parties where more of his birth family would be invited, but initially limiting it is important. Thank you for continuing to support and promote foster care adoption. Not having birth children of our own was the best unanswered prayer we could have ever asked for. I wish everyone could experience the journey.

  6. First let me say that I believe that what you all have done for you daughters is amazing. I love the podcast. It is awesome for all of those that are just starting out on their journey to either strictly foster or foster/adopt.

    I wanted to voice my concern. My husband and I are foster/adopt parents. Both of our boys came to us at birth from the hospital. Our oldest son’s bm has not seen him since his birth. He was born while she was incarcerated and after her release she disappeared. We were told no reunification because of past severe neglect and abuse of other children that were removed and tpr.

    Our baby’s bios stopped coming to visits and disappeared when he was 1.5 months old. We started his adoption process once they were gone for 9 months. We sued for custody and then were granted his adoption. CPS was not going to allow reunification because bm attempted suffocation of another child previously.

    I just wanted to share our story because I believe that in some cases birth family involvement is just not something that can be done or should be done. In both cases the courts and the boys GAL did not advise contact of any kind. We agreed. Our cases might be more severe then others, but these children have been removed for serious reasons (at least ours).

    It isn’t always possible for your scenerio to the final outcome of foster/adopting.

  7. Hi Confused,

    We agree that the safety of adopted children is always of utmost concern. We fully recognize and agree that open adoption in foster care is quite often inappropriate. We’re quite grateful that our situation is one in which open adoption is possible.

    Thanks for listening and commenting.

  8. Hi T and W- I am SO happy to hear that this went well for you and the girls. I am emailing because I have a situation somewhat similar to one you had with Carmen. Our foster daughter is two years old and we just found out her birthmom is pregnant again, and the issues that sent our foster daughter into care are not only still present, but are worse. So, the state is going to move to terminate parental rights for our foster daughter, and likely the new baby too (her half sib)when it is born- also the baby apparently will have special medical needs from birth onward which birthmom can’t meet. SO- now we have a issue. We had been told our daughter was going to reunified (we are a foster family- not fost/adopt, in fact we try NOT to take fost/adopt kids so as to give other families that chance.) Now, it appears she will be up for adoption. And possibly a sibling along with her. So- what to do? We’ve had her 4 months, we love her, and boy does she love us- but we had not planned to adopt. Do we adopt her? That’s an option we are considering. But honestly I don’t feel a pull to adopt her future half sibling, and my dear husband is not excited about the idea of a new born. (can’t say I blame him- and we both work full time- not ideal for a new born with medical needs) Is it better to let her be adopted by a family that wants her and her half sib? Do we do more good as foster parents (which our state is short of) or as adoptive parents? I realize no one can answer these questions for us, but I’d love to hear any thoughts you or readers have about fostering versus adopting, a birth mom pregnant with a sib, or adopting a foster child- or children- that you hadn’t planned to adopt when a reunification fails. As always thanks for the show, and any thoughts you have on this.

  9. Tim & Wendy,

    Thank you so much for your podcasts. My husband and I have just started the foster-adoption process and will be taking classes next month. We can’t have children and felt that foster-adoption matched us much better than infant or international adoption. We had originally been sucked in by the heart wrenching photolistings as well as the videos on adoptuskids. Had we gone through with the process from just those things, I think we would have had some upsetting surprises later on. Since then, we have read Adopting the Hurt Child, listened to ALL of your podcasts (hubby is just starting) and read through some forums online. I now feel much better prepared for the foster-adoption process and hearing about your experiences has not in any way deterred us from adopting through foster care, but has changed our focus to helping a child heal in addition to starting our family.


  10. I’m glad to have found your podcast. I listened to several and this one really caught my attention because it is a subject close to my heart. I started fostering 17 years ago and boy were things different then! Foster parents weren’t supposed to adopt (in fact in some areas it was forbidden), foster parents and birth parents didn’t meet and all adoptions were closed. In 1997, two of the kids I had been fostering for several years became freed for adoption and I agreed to host their “final visit” with their birth mom. It was a day that really changed the course of my life. I sat there watching this mom and kids cry and say goodbye forever and I thought “why does it have to be like this??”. She wasn’t an evil person – she was just incapable of caring for them. Why did she have to be cut from their lives? I resolved that she didn’t and entered into uncharted territory. There was NOTHING about open adoption in foster care adoption at that time. Open adoption was just starting to take hold in infant adoption, but everyone said it couldn’t happen in foster care adoption. So it was trial by fire (and sometimes trial by error!), but we all felt our way through the years of maintaining contact. Looking back on it now, it was often uncomfortable, sometimes painful and often messy, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. My girls never had to question where they came from, who they were or why they were adopted – they had those answers in front of them as they grew up. They are 19 & 25 now and still have a relationship with their birth mother. But they know her and they know her limitations and they know that I am mom. Knowing her didn’t detract from my relationship with them at all – in fact I think it strengthened it. They didn’t have to choose sides. Today, as young adults, the relationship they have with her is more like a distant aunt – someone you call or see on holidays but really isn’t a big part of your day to day life. As the years went by, I went on to adopt 4 more kids from foster care and had the same openness with them. I never denied that my kids had another family, that they had a past before they came to live with me and that they could have connections with as many people as they wanted and it didn’t take anything away from their relationship with me. Children can never have too many people who love them. And as long as those people all want what is BEST for them, then there is no reason they cannot exist side by side in a child’s world. We have had birth parents come to Thanksgiving dinner, school events and we even had one child’s birth family invited to another childs (not bio related) wedding! My daughter getting married said “But they are part of my family too!” about her sister’s bio family. That extension of family was very touching to me (and to the bio family invited). I know that parents of young children wonder about the impact that continuing contact will have and I can tell you that, as a mother of 3 adopted adults, 2 teens and one “caboose”, it has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. The good has far outweighed the bad. In fact, I feel so passionate about the topic that I recently completed a masters thesis on post adoption birth parent contact in foster care adoption. I found in my study of over 300 adoptive parents across the country that open adoption is more common than we hear about. I would be happy to talk with you more about this topic! Thanks for an informative site!

  11. Hello,
    I am wondering if more people are willing to share their experiences with open adoption in foster care. We are about to finalize with our 2 year old daughter and I have been thinking about contacting her birth mom after finalization. We have an open adoption with our son’s birth family but he was voluntarily relinquished and my daughter was not. I find it is very hard to talk to people about this topic because of the bias against open adoption as well as misconceptions about foster care. My daughter haas been in foster care almost her whole life and I can’t imagine what her birth mother goes through day after day not knowing where she is and if she is doing well. It makes me sick to think about it. I also want the same thing for my daughter that I have with my son but I do understand the circumstances are different. I am specifically looking for advice around when is a good time to do a search for birth mom and how do you know when the time is right. My worker suggested waiting until my daughter asks but I can’t imagine waiting that long.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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