Many families with open adoption arrangements enjoy in-person visits and meaningful celebrations together, during special times of the year. In addition, many expectant/birth mothers making an open adoption plan look forward to meeting their child’s future family in person, either before or after the baby arrives. With the current coronavirus pandemic causing everyone to “social distance” and “shelter-in-place,” however, these face-to-face meetings are not an option at this time.
Advice for Established Open Adoptions
Whether you are an adoptive family or birth parent, you may be wondering how to navigate your current open adoption relationship while stuck at home. Even more, you may be asking how you can support your child and his/her need for connection during this time?
The COVID-19 pandemic has marked a time of uncertainty, in which people near and far (both children and adults) are needing support and personal connection. It is normal to feel worried about the other members of your adoption triad, and to want to check-in or reach out. Below, Adoptions With Love provides some timely advice for families currently trying to navigate open adoption communication.
- Check in with one another.
The best thing anyone can do right now is to check-in with loved ones. These are scary times and being there for one another and maintaining connections is more valuable than ever. This is especially important for children. Humans are social beings. Your child requires personal connections and conversations to maintain a sense of community and happiness.
If you are in a fully open adoption and have the ability to contact the birth or adoptive parent directly, we encourage you to do so. This will allow you to catch up with one another and ensure everyone is healthy and safe. You can do this on the phone or through a video chat while social distancing.
For those in semi-open adoption arrangements, our adoption agency counselors can also help you with communication. In addition, you can continue to use our Letter and Picture Program during this time. We encourage adoptive families to continue sending us updates, by mail or email, to give birth parents peace of mind in knowing their child is safe.
- Make the most of video chat.
If you had an upcoming visit planned with your adoption triad, you will likely need to postpone it and plan a virtual meeting, instead. Virtual meetings can be carried out through a variety of easy-to-use video technologies, including:
- Mobile apps like House Party
We know how disappointed your child might be, so be sure to explain to your child that the in-person visit is not cancelled, but rather, re-scheduled for a later date. But you can have a virtual visit.
- Get creative!
With your child out of school, there is plenty of time to get creative. Adoptive families may take some time in the day to write letters, draw pictures, and complete crafts to send to loved ones – including their birth parents. Those in fully open adoptions may send these directly to the birth parents, while those in semi-open adoptions may consider sharing these via our agency’s Letter and Picture program.
You can also get creative with your virtual meetings and phone conversations. Rather than the typical video chat, you may consider spicing up meetings with:
- A “dress up day,” where everyone follows a certain dress-up theme.
- Mini workshops, where you take turns teaching each other new skills, such as a cool dance.
- Games! There are many games you can play online or virtually through video chat, such as Pictionary, Bingo, Charades, and more.
You may also consider building and sending care packages to one another during this time – we know everyone would appreciate a handwritten note and a roll of toilet paper!
No matter how you choose to communicate with one another during these unprecedented times, it is important to keep your child’s best interests at heart. This pandemic can be very hard for young children to grasp. Your child might be scared of all the unknowns ahead. To protect your child, try to normalize these situations as much as possible. Keep a level head. Do not frantically call the birth or adoptive parents in worry, and make sure your conversations cover more than just current events. Instead, focus the conversation on your child’s favorite things, activities, and interests at the moment.
Advice for Those Making an Open Adoption Plan
If you are an expectant mother making an open adoption plan, you may have been looking forward to meeting your child’s future family for the first time. You may have been planning for them to be there for the birth, right in the delivery room. With the current pandemic going on, however, in-person contact with adoptive families is very limited. Hospitals are also limiting visitors. We can help navigate this for you.
Adoptions With Love understands the concerns of expectant mothers during this time. We are here to help you find ways to connect with your child’s future adoptive family, and to have the most comfortable hospital stay possible when the baby arrives. Here is some open adoption advice.
- Be assured your adoption will continue.
Many expectant mothers may be worried about what lies ahead: Will the adoption fall through, or will I be able to place my baby with the adoptive family? Adoptions With Love is still working hard to make sure your adoption goes as planned. While you may not be able to meet the adoptive family in person, in the hospital, they will be there and ready to take baby home. With proper planning and taking precautions, meetings are still happening.
- Make (or revise) your hospital plan with your adoption agency.
If you are nearing your delivery date, you may be worried about your baby’s birth and your hospital stay. Hospitals are taking extra precautions to keep mothers and their babies safe. However, most hospitals are limiting or restricting visitors during this time. This does not mean you will be alone. You will still have quality care and compassionate professionals with you at every step of the way. Be sure to check with your adoption agency counselor and your healthcare provider to see what the visitor limitations will be. Again, the adoptive family you choose can still be there to meet your baby, even if it is not in the delivery room.
If you are working with Adoptions With Love, we will help you revise your adoption hospital plan and that you are comfortable with everything before delivery day. We will take every precaution to ensure we keep you safe. Hospital regulations change daily so your adoption counselor will continue communication with the hospital to make certain that your needs are met, while maintaining health.
- Take advantage of virtual technologies.
If you were looking forward to meeting your child’s adoptive family before the birth, know that there are alternative ways you can do so. For example, you can schedule virtual chat through video conferencing technologies like Zoom or Skype or Facetime. Your social worker at Adoptions With Love can help you get this set up, and can even be involved in that meeting, if you would like.
We are Here for You
If you need assistance navigating open adoption conversations during this time, or would like more open adoption advice, know that Adoptions With Love is here. We are still working on many adoptions and available during these times. Our phone lines are still open 24/7 – Just call 800-722-7731 and you will be put in touch with one of our caring social workers.
If you would like some more general advice on how to have a successful open adoption, you may also download our free eBook – “The Keys to a Successful Open Adoption”.