**This is not targeted towards my daughter's adoptive parents whatsoever, nor is it meant to offend anyone or put anyone off. It's just a little list of things that I truly wish all adoptive parents knew. Some of it is said out of experience, some is said out of wishful experience - experiences I hope to have in the future, and some are just thoughts that swim around in this crazy head of mine. This mainly applies to post-placement**
(1) Nothing means more than calling the child we share an immense love for 'our child.' Recognizing that the child does in fact have two sets of parents who love him or her means the world to us birth parents.
(2) That old, crinkled up sheet of paper with errant crayon scribbles all over it that you are about to throw away because you've already kept approximately 8,000 of them? Don't. Send it to your child's birth mom or dad, no extensive letter necessary. What may be every-day and semi-"meaningless" to you may mean the world to a birth parent.
(3) You can never send enough photos. If you don't want to send one for fear of being too "pushy," I can assure you almost certainly that you are not. If we aren't ready to look yet, we'll save it for later. But just knowing you thought of us means everything.
(4) Including us as part of your family is the biggest honor you could give us. Even if visits are not part of the adoption plan, including us on group emails (with photos) to far-away family members doesn't go without notice. (My daughter's adoptive mom sent a photo of of our little girl waving two flags in her hands last year on the 4th of July. I love emails she sends only to me, but to see all of my daughter's many aunts and uncles from both sides of the family included on the email, along with myself and my mother, made my heart practically burst!)
(5) Likewise, being part of you "Christmas card list" is also amazing. If you're one of those families who takes professional Christmas photos and sends them out on little postcards, consider sending one to your child's birth family. (I still have mine from the two Christmases that have passed since she was born).
(6) No matter how much we love you (which, trust me, is a lot!), it is still extremely hard to trust someone else with your child. Think of how nervous you were the first time you let someone babysit your children...this is how we felt at placement, only it was magnified seven-fold. This is not to say we don't trust you - we more than trust you, and are secure in that trust - but keep this fear in mind when we send quick texts or emails just to see how everyone's doing. We don't mean to bug you.
(7) Sending us quick emails just to say hello, check in, or wish us luck on upcoming finals or whatever it may be, mean the world to us. Feeling like we not only share a common interest in the child, but also share a friendship, is wonderful.
(8) Not sure if we want that low-quality, grainy video you took on your cell phone? We do! You may have better ones that you took with a digital camera, but we cherish anything - and I mean anything you send us.
(9) Always keep your promises. This goes for birth parents and adoptive parents alike. Promises in open adoption are worth gold...there is no relationship more delicate or fragile on earth, so promises are sacred.
(10) We may not admit it, and a lot of us may share our pain quicker than we share our joy, but we love you for providing our children with what we couldn't at the time. Whether it's a two-parent household, a solid financial ground, or just a house period, it's something we couldn't provide or provide properly. I've heard it said that people think adoptive parents should "owe" their child's birth parents the world for "giving them a child." Well, birth parents feel indebted (in a good way) to adoptive parents for loving their child above themselves. We didn't give our child to you, we gave you to our child.
(11) Don't hold back on what you tell us. Don't be afraid to tell us that you missed 'our' baby while you were away on a business trip because you're scared we'll think "how do you think I feel?." The feeling we get when you are expressing your love for our child will eventually win over any jealous feelings we have about the time you get to spend with them that we don't.
(12) Allow us to send gifts. While some of us can't bear to walk down the baby aisle or the kid's toy aisle at Target, others find immense comfort in buying things for the child. The occasional "spoiling" we get to do feels amazing.
(13) Sending photos of your child wearing outfits we sent to her/him or playing with toys we sent are priceless.
(14) Always feel free to send us the "outtakes," too. While pictures in nice lighting, in cute outfits and with huge smiles are great, we want to see pictures of our kids just being kids, too. Not sure if you should send the picture where his or her back is to the camera and they are playing with toys? Please, send it! That one where they are crying or in mid-scream...send that one, too. We want as much insight into their daily lives as you are willing to give.
(15) If you don't already, please understand that as long as the safety of the child isn't at risk (mentally or physically), it can never be a bad thing for more people to love a child. When everyone has that child's best interest at heart, the more love, the better. Please don't close us out, we are not a threat. We don't want to take over your title or role and 99% of us would never have that intent nor would we dream of trying. We just want the opportunity to let our child know that he or she always was and always will be loved by us.