Friday, August 28, 2009

Birth Grandparents

When I was pregnant and making an adoption plan, I didn’t give much thought to how it would affect my extended family, like my parents. I forgot to think about the fact that not only was I loosing a son (in the parenting sense of the word) they were loosing the ability to be grandparents to their grandson in the “normal” sense of the word. But thanks to the open adoptions that many birthmothers and adoptive families have nowadays, birth grandparents are sometimes able to have some type of involvement and relationship with their grandchild. (Note: The type of involvement and relationship will differ with each open adoption relationship.)

How can birth grandparents be involved?
It depends on the parties involved in the adoption agreement and ideally is something that should be discussed before the adoption takes place. Birth grandparents can be included at visits, sent pictures, invited to birthday parties and other events, etc. Sometimes it takes time to develop a relationship and for the birth grandparents to become involved. Some birthmoms (I was guilty of this in the beginning) may feel that their time is too precious to share and may not want their parents involved at first.

What should the child call his/her birth grandparents?
Again this is something that should be discussed before hand and will depend on what everyone is comfortable with. In some cases, children may call their birth grandparents “grandma” or “grandpa” or whatever term it is that the other grandkids (if the child is not the first) call them. In other cases, he or she may just refer to them by their first name. It really depends on what everyone involved feels comfortable with.

Birth Grandparents do grieve just as we (birthmothers) do and therefore, support is beneficial to them as well. However, there are not a lot of resources out there specifically for birth Grandparents.  Below is a list of the few resources that I have found for birth Grandparents.
If you don’t think that your parents would be open to checking out the above resources then you may be looking for ways you could help them yourself. In an article entitled Can a Child have too Many Grandmas? Brenda Romanchick shares a few tips of ways that you could help and educate your parents.

Brenda suggests:
  • Teach them what you have learned about the adoptive family. Whether it is important holidays that the adoptive family celebrates, or their style of gift-giving, passing on known information will make contact easier on everybody. Knowing, for example, that the adoptive parents do not allow toy guns in the house will prevent the possibility of an awkward situation. Letting them know the communication style of the adoptive parents and your child will also give them an idea of what contact may be like. If, for example, it takes a long time for your child to warm up to strangers, family members will know not to expect the child to run to them with open arms.
  •  Let them know that all children are created equal. This is especially important if there are other children in the adoptive family. The best way to do this is to remind them that they are accepting the entire adoptive family into their lives, not just your child.
  • Prepare them for possible emotional fallout. All of us remember what those first visits were like. Just as you have had to learn to deal with the bittersweet quality of open adoption, so will your family members. Many of our parents especially may find that visits bring a new dimension to their loss.
So, how are your parents handling being a birth Grandparent? Feel free to pass along these resources and information if you feel comfortable. 

(Photo Credit)

1 comment:

  1. My granddaughter was born today. Kayla Linda. I am her fraternal birth mother, Linda. Do I have any rights at all? Pictures, now and then. Even a phone call once a year? I live in NJ. Do I have any rights? I wanted my Grandbaby so much. Have I any rights?