Open adoption visits are a treasured part of the adoption journey for many adoptive parents and birth parents. This connection often blossoms into a special and important relationship — one that enriches the lives of everyone involved.
But now, the far-reaching effects of COVID-19 have impacted this relationship. That has left many wondering, “Are in-person adoption visits safe anymore?”
It’s a hard question to answer, and you will ultimately have to decide with everyone in the relationship whether or not an in-person visit is a good idea. We’ve created this guide in an effort to help you make that decision.
Here are five important things to consider for anyone deciding if an in-person adoption visit is safe in the year of COVID-19.
Are you traveling for your visit?
In-person visits between people in the same area carry a different risk than visits that require travel, and even the type of travel can play a part in shaping this decision. Driving a couple hours, for instance, has a lower risk than flying.
If you have to travel, you should also consider the spread of the disease in your own home and in the city you are going to. Are you going from a low-risk area to a high-risk area, or vice versa?
Consider the risks involved in any form of travel and plan for all necessary precautions if you do decide to make the trip.
Does anyone in the adoption triad have pre-existing conditions?
Each member of the adoption triad — birth parents, adoptive parents and child — must be considered in this decision. Does anyone have a pre-existing health condition that would put him or her at higher risk for a severe presentation of COVID-19?
Health officials are encouraging those who are most at-risk to adhere to strict social distancing protocols. If this applies to anyone in your triad, it may be best to delay any in-person visits for now.
What is the prevalence of the virus in your area?
There’s much left to learn about the spread of COVID-19, but one emerging piece of information is the importance of regional spread. The virus is not as present in Montana, for example, as it is in Florida. New York City is a much riskier city to travel to than Laramie, Wyo.
When evaluating the risk of travel for in-person visits, or even the risk of in-person visits in the same city, consider the rate of infection in the area. If the rate is low and no one in your adoption triad is at increased risk for severe presentation, you could consider a socially distanced in-person meet-up, like a picnic, and feel reasonably safe.
What is your risk tolerance?
This is, ultimately, a personal decision. That’s why you, and all the other members of the adoption triad, need to be honest about risk tolerance. Will an in-person meeting cause intense anxiety for someone involved? Will anyone feel exposed or unsafe? If so, consider protecting this person’s physical and mental health by foregoing the next in-person visit.
Can you manage with video calls, at least for the time being?
Video calls are not a substitute for in-person adoption visits. There are certain things that real, physical presence can give us that simply can’t be replicated over video. However, video can be a temporary solution, especially during these extreme circumstances.
This is a conversation worth having with the whole adoption triad. Can you make video calls work for now, with an understanding that this is only a temporary measure to ensure the safety of everyone involved? It can be hard to miss in-person visits, but this short-term solution may make it more bearable for now.
Speak With an Adoption Specialist Today
This is a hard choice. In-person meetings are an essential component of open adoption. They are good and necessary. But, right now, the risk posed by COVID-19 could outweigh the rewards.
You might find it helpful to talk this over with a professional. Do you have an adoption specialist that can provide post-placement support for decisions like this? If so, consider contacting them today.