Most birth mothers want an open adoption, which can look like anything from posting photo updates on social media to meeting in person. However, deciding on the appropriate place to meet up in person for open adoption visits can sometimes be tricky.
You’ll want your open adoption visits to be at a location where you can talk, have fun, and see the child(ren) play. However, choosing a place to meet may be stressful. To take care of the planning part of your visit, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 places to meet for your open adoption visits.
1. A park
Most towns have multiple parks, making this an easy choice. In addition, parks are typically free (or inexpensive) and offer an easygoing setting. Options at parks include going for a walk, playing on the playground, picnicking, or going on a bike ride.
2. Recreation center
These offer the chance to share interests you have in common and for everyone to enjoy watching the child having fun. Some possible activities at a recreation center are arcades, bowling, go-carts, putt-putt, or a maze.
3. A local event
Most towns have events and festivals designed for all ages during the year. Example events include fireworks, farmer’s markets, street food festivals, art shows, the fair, and sports events.
4. The water
Meeting at a beach during the summer months is a fun location, whether at the ocean or a lake. Or meet up at a water park, a location that provides a wonderful way to cool off on a hot summer’s day. Water parks offer something for everyone and also allow all to get involved in the fun of the day.
5. Theme park
A theme park may be a more expensive spot to meet up, but kids love it! Theme parks and amusement parks have a wide range of rides and things to do. Seeing the children have a great time is fun for both the adoptive parents and the birth parents.
6. The zoo
Visit a wildlife park, zoo, or aquarium nearby. These meet-up locations are educational, and the parents will enjoy watching the children wonder at the wildlife. Most zoos will have a kid area, where your child can have some hands-on fun with the animals and create crafts.
7. Coffee shop or restaurant
These locations offer you a great place to see each other in person and catch up. In addition, your child’s birth parents will treasure the chance to see what your child’s favorite food might be.
8. Holiday events
Year-round, many events make for perfect open adoption visit spots. Examples include the 4th of July fireworks and parade, Easter egg hunts, visits to the pumpkin patch, and viewing the Christmas lights. These ideas are typically pretty inexpensive and can be a lot of fun!
9. “Girl’s Day” or “Guy’s Day”
Your visit doesn’t have to include everyone. Girl’s days and guy’s days allow you have more individualized time as your child gets older. Consider having a girls-only day and seeing a show or going shopping. Or, you could have a guys-only day and play sports, go fishing or go camping together.
Scheduling a call via Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype is a great way for adoptive parents to connect with their child’s birth mother. Having a scheduled time allows both parties to be available.
During the calls, they can give live updates or swap stories. This is a great way to connect over the holidays if you don’t live near each other. The birth mother and child can share the experience of opening gifts, looking at holiday decorations or talking about what you are doing over the holidays.
Having fun with your child’s birth parents and your child is a fabulous way to bond. What you want to avoid in your open adoption visit is a boring spot where you all end up hoping the visit will end. On the other hand, you don’t want your meet-up to be so jammed with events that you don’t have time to talk. When your open adoption connection matures over time, it’ll get easier to choose where to meet up.
What an Open Adoption Is and Isn’t
Open adoption normalizes a child’s adoption. It brings the child together with people who love them most, their birth parents and their adoptive parents.
That being said, open adoptions can sometimes feel intimidating to hopeful adoptive parents. They may worry that the birth mother will stop by their house randomly or overstep boundaries and demand to have a say in parenting decisions. The truth is, adoptive parents and birth mothers communicate ahead of time to schedule visits. And open adoption doesn’t mean the birth mother and the adoptive parents co-parent the child.
You may not be sure what an open adoption will look like in real life. Therefore, it’s important to understand what open adoption is and isn’t. Here are some things that you shouldn’t expect to see in your open adoption with your child’s birth mother.
What an open adoption isn’t:
- Open adoption doesn’t mean the birth mother and the adoptive parents co-parent the child. When a birth mother chooses to place her child for adoption, she signs her parental rights over to the adoptive couple. The transfer of parenting duties avoids confusion for the child and brings peace for all parties.
- If you choose an open adoption, you can rest assured that it doesn’t mean your child’s birth mother will drop by your house unannounced for your child’s birthday party (unless, of course, you’ve invited her!) Adoptive parents and birth mothers should communicate ahead of time to schedule visits.
What an open adoption is:
- Open adoption means the birth mother and adoptive parents work out many of the details and preferences of their contact agreement ahead of time. Forming a post-adoption contact agreement means discussing how much direct communication will happen, how often it will happen, and the form it will take.
- Both parties will share personal information at their comfort level. It’s really up to both parties how this will work out.
Every Adoption is Unique
Of course, every open adoption is unique depending on the individuals involved. Sometimes there is more or less contact. The important thing to remember is that much of the decision about how much contact should happen is left up to the birth mother. She will want to have a good relationship with her child’s adoptive family.
Over time, as your child grows into a teenager, sometimes birth mothers may wish to have more or less contact. Out of consideration, she may ask the adoptive family if they’re comfortable with her being friends on Facebook with their teen.
It’s an opportunity for the adoptive parents to be flexible. In the end, the most important thing for both parties to do when they make a decision is to do what is best for the child.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on October 6, 2015, and has since been updated.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”