Open adoption is at its best when it involves meaningful in-person contact. But, with the coronavirus pandemic taking that option away, how can you maintain a positive, supportive relationship in a time where we all need it so desperately?
We know that open adoption can be complicated on its own — but throw in a global health crisis and it can seem impossible. But, we’re here to assure you that it’s not. In fact, there are many great ways that you can stay in touch with members of your adoption triad, whether you’re a birth parent, adoptive parent or adoptee.
Find a few of them below:
1. Check in with Each Other Directly, if Possible
With so much uncertainty during this time, it’s normal to be worried about the other members of your adoption triad. How do you know they’re safe and healthy?
If you have the ability to directly contact a birth parent or adoptive parent, we encourage you to do so. While our adoption specialists are happy to reach out to other members of the triad in a semi-open adoption, it can take time to catch everyone on the phone. The easiest and quickest way for you to confirm someone’s well-being is to contact them yourself.
We also want to remind you that picture and letter updates are just as important as ever. Our staff is working hard to ensure these updates reach the intended party but, if you have the ability to send them directly, that will allow us to best serve all those who can’t.
If our agency’s ability to send photo and letter updates changes in the near future, you will be the first to know.
2. Postpone In-Person Visits with Digital Ones
It can be tough to cancel the trip you’ve been planning forever to see the other members of your adoption triad. However, safety is always the first priority. Try to see this as a “rescheduling” rather than a “cancellation.”
In the meantime, take advantage of all the digital communication avenues available. Check in with phone calls, texts and video calls. Most people have some extra time on their hands now, and a conversation can be a great way to cheer up someone’s day. Promise them you’ll see them in person as soon as possible and, in the meantime, appreciate the ways you can continue to keep in touch.
3. Remember the Child
It can be tough to decide how much to tell your child about what’s going on. Your child may be thrilled that they’re no longer in school but can get easily frightened by the increasing severity of the COVID-19 situation.
While it’s good to check in on your adoption triad member during this time, try not to overdo it. Don’t frantically call each other at odd times, and don’t talk only about the pandemic. Your child, no matter how old, will pick up on your panic — and they can develop anxiety around the situation, just like you.
Try to view your open adoption contact as a bit of normalcy during this unprecedented time — a chance to check back in with each other and take a break from all of the COVID-19 news.
4. Get Creative
Your open adoption communication doesn’t have to be limited to video chats and phone calls. There is a variety of activities you can do to connect with each other during this uncertain time.
Think outside the box. What are some things that you and the birth parent/adoptive parent like to do? Can you find a way to do that through technology?
Set up your video chats, and try out some of these suggestions:
- Take a virtual tour together. Many zoos and museums are offering daily social media livestreams and digital tours of their collections. Start off with the world-renowned British museum or take a
“walk” through 30 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Learn some new skills with a virtual class — for example, learn some new moves with a virtual dance class and host your own recital via Facetime.
- Share a game night. Many modern gaming systems allow you to play against competitors around the world — why not your child’s birth or adoptive parents? Check out Pogo, where you can play classic board games like Monopoly and Yahtzee, or test your trivia knowledge with the popular game, You Don’t Know Jack.
Of course, with all the time you have on your hands, now might also be the perfect chance to work on that creative gift you’ve been planning. Children can use their free time to draw pictures and write letters for their birth parents, and birth and adoptive parents may finally put together that photo album they’ve been wanting to finish.
5. Remember American Adoptions is Here
We know COVID-19 has thrown wrinkles in everyone’s plans, not just those in the adoption triad. However, we know that navigating the adoption process now is more complicated than ever. Whatever you may need, we can help.
For more suggestions on open adoption ideas and recommendations during this pandemic, reach out to your adoption specialist. You can also reach out to staff member and birth mom Michelle Downard, who can provide peer support for birth moms and guidance for adoptive parents.