Cultivating Openness and Hospitality in Your Adoptive Family

After a long (pandemic) break from creating content for foster parents, I am back to it, and one of my goals is to respond to the many questions that have come in over the last year from viewers on YouTube. Recently, someone commented, “If you haven’t already and don’t mind, I’d love to see a video about how you keep in contact with your kids’ first families.”

I have actually thought about doing a video on this topic for some time, and as I started thinking through how to respond, I realized that there are really two ways to answer this question: one for foster parents, and one for adoptive parents.

So I recorded two different videos, and today the second one is available.

I encourage you to watch the video for more info, but the nutshell is, I encourage adoptive parents to practice openness and hospitality with their children’s family of origin as much as possible. That can look several different ways, depending on everyone involved. Regardless of the extent of connection you maintain, it is vital to the emotional health and well-being of your child(ren) that you practice openess as much as possible. As I said in the video, we need to pull all of the skeletons out of the closet for our kids, so they don’t have to. Not talking about their back stories will not make them go away. Rather than have young people who have to guess and wonder and obsess over their identity and where they come from, we can offer them as much support as possible in openness and transparency.

I hope you find this resource helpful! And if you’re a member of an adoption triad (birth parent/adoptee/adoptive parent), I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve said here. Please share your comments below!

Project Search and Reunion [Podcast Episode 20]

Anyone who is involved with the world of adoption knows that adoption has lifelong implications for everyone involved: birth parents, adoptive parents, and, of course, the people who are adopted from one family into another.

Until very recently, adoption was almost always shrouded in secrecy. The link between the birth parent and the adopted person was held in file boxes on the shelves of adoption agencies, paperwork that connected the adopted child to the parent or parents they came from. In order to access that information, adoptees and birth parents had to pay money. Had to know where to start. And had to rely on the cooperation of whomever received their request for information. 

Nowadays, we recognize the importance of transparency in adoption and the benefits of a child knowing about their birth family and even having relationships with them. Most adoptions today are open, with at least some sort of contact between birth and adoptive families, but that leaves thousands of adopted adults with gaping holes in their life stories. In response to this, in 2018, Amara, a foster care and adoption agency in Seattle,  launched Project Search and Reunion, a ground-breaking initiative that aims to audit 3,100 of their own adoption files between the years of 1950 and 2000 to ensure that adoptees and birth families receive the information and support they requested, especially in regard to searching.  

In March, just before the world shut down and we all went into quarantine, I had a chance to hear a presentation about this important work, and in the latest episode of A Fostered Life Podcast, I’m speaking with Rena Konomis, a Washington state court appointed Confidential Intermediary and Project Director of Project and Search and Reunion. Listen as Rena explains the goal of the project and why it matters for everyone involved with the world of adoption.

I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did! 

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