Nope, this is not one of the thousands of “perfect Dear Birthmother” letters that’s out there. No, this is the letter after your adopted son or daughter has been placed in your arms and you’ve agreed to update the birthparents with pictures and letters. Pictures are no problem, you will take lots of photos. Letters, are a little harder, because what do you say to the woman who helped make you a mommy?
Work Towards Openness
Let’s acknowledge a fear. Though you’ve probably been told the chance of your child’s adoption being disrupted is very low, you may have a tiny bit of doubt in the back of your mind. There may be safety issues or other circumstances, that may make you want to hold back. Take time to examine those concerns, but make it a long term goal to move towards openness. It’s okay to keep somethings close to the vest that first year, while you and your family adjust. With each new update, share a little bit more about your child and your family. Remember these are your child’s link to their culture and genes, you will want to build a foundation of trust should you or your child need to reach out to them in the future.
When our son was placed with us he was under “legal risk“. Although his birthmother terminated her parental rights, the birthfather’s rights had not been terminated by the court. Although the chances of the adoption being disrupted or terminated by the father were very low, those first few letters were very bland. They included some basics about our son’s development and the condition of some health challenges he was facing, which have now been resolved.
So what do you put in a Dear Birthparent update letter?
Let their birth family know that the child they’ve placed in your care is loved. Many birthmoms made an adoption plan because they loved the child they carried and birthed. Let them know that the care and love they’ve given is continued through you and your family.
What new thing is your child doing that he/she wasn’t doing in your last letter? Is she now rolling over? Or what are his first words? This is helpful for you too (if you keep an electronic copy) to document changes that might not show up in the thousands of photos you’ve taken. Take this as an opportunity to reflect on how much your child has accomplished. Your first letter won’t have much, especially if you’ve adopted an infant whose main accomplishments are sleeping and eating. Include things like weight, height, and what they are eating.
Mention how your child has integrated into your family and community. This may seem like a repeat of the ‘love’ section but this is more about relationships forming or formed with siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and other family members. You might mention, how at a family gathering, relatives held or played with your child. Or when you don’t have family in the area, how they may ask about and send gifts to your little one. This can help reinforce the message that not only do you (and your immediate family) love your child but, he/she has been loved and accepted by other family members.
Once you’re done cocooning with your newest family member, your little one will interact with the community. These may be relationships with neighbors, families at church, people at places you frequent, and other kids. Yes, it is a one-sided relationship, but a relationship none the less. Like writing about relationships with other family members, this can help reassure the birth family that their child has been accepted and loved by a larger community.
We’ve been told to include six photos with our letters. Actually we send 12, six for the birthmom and six for the birthdad. Because of the internet, reverse image search, and the fact we haven’t had contact with the birth family (ours was a closed adoption/ birthmom’s choice) we try to avoid sending photos that we’ve posted on-line. The first few batches of photos were of our son alone. But as I was reading up on what birthmoms want, we are starting to include photos where we are with him.