Open and semi-open adoptions are the norm in the modern adoption process. For many prospective birth mothers, the opportunity to meet the adoptive parents before placement provides a sense of peace and reassurance about the decision to create an adoption plan.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has significantly disrupted the flow of pre-placement contact for many adoption triads. Travel restrictions and social distancing measures have made it difficult or impossible to actually meet in-person before placement. And this is understandably distressing if you are a prospective birth mother.
COVID-19 has introduced all kinds of complications to your pregnancy and adoption plan, and now it may have taken away the opportunity to physically meet the people who will be the parents of your child.
What can you do now? What are the next steps forward? How can you still get to know the adoptive parents before placement?
Our specialists have been working with many prospective birth mothers to answer these questions, and we’ve created this guide to help you. From virtual meetings to adjusting hospital plans, here are several things to consider about pre-placement contact in light of COVID-19.
Possible Alternatives to In-Person Meetings
Let’s get an unfortunate truth out of the way: In-person meetings before placement may not be possible. If you live in an area that is experiencing rapid spread of COVID-19, are concerned about your health during pregnancy, or simply feel unsafe breaking social distancing guidelines, then you will need to find an alternative to physically meeting the adoptive parents before placement.
It’s completely normal to feel disappointed, and even sad, because of this. However, there are several alternatives that can provide a sense of personal connection and allow you to get to know the parents.
The first (and most popular) work-around is video meetings. Using Zoom, Skype, Facebook Chat or other video conferencing platforms, you can schedule regular video calls with the adoptive parents in lieu of in-person meetings.
Video chat has its pitfalls, and it’s not the same as actually meeting. But, it can provide a chance to really get to know the parents before placement.
Other methods of communication — like phone calls, texts and emails — are additional alternatives to use during this time.
Safety Measures for Socially Distanced Meetings
Many states have lifted some or all of the social distancing guidelines that went into effect in the spring of 2020. This means that, depending on where you are, in-person meetings may be possible again, with the right precautions.
Are you and the adoptive parents considering an in-person meeting? If so, you may want to do one (or more) of these things:
Contact tracing studies have shown that the virus spreads much more aggressively indoors, especially in small spaces where people are talking, laughing, singing or otherwise projecting. One simple solution presents itself immediately: Move any gathering that you can to the outdoors.
If you do decide to have your pre-placement meeting face-to-face, could you have a picnic instead of a sit-down dinner? With summer fast approaching, this option may not work for people in the South and Southwest. Weather permitting, an outside hang out is preferred.
While there is still much to learn about how COVID-19 is transmitted, the current understanding is that respiratory droplets are the primary way the virus spreads. This means that wearing a mask is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus. It may be uncomfortable and awkward, but consider asking everyone to wear a mask when you meet.
Don’t Share Utensils or Food
Meeting for a meal? That’s a great idea. Make it safer by bringing your own utensils, plates, cups and food. The virus can live on most surfaces for at least three hours, which means you can reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 by keeping your plates, forks and knives separate.
No Hugs, For Now
Your first instinct may be to go in for a handshake or hug. Right now, that’s not the best idea. In-person meetings still carry some risk because of the virus, and something like a hug makes the likelihood of COVID-19 spreading much higher.
These are a few simple social distancing protocols that can be practiced during in-person meetings to protect everyone involved. While there is always risk when meeting new people while COVID-19 is still spreading throughout the country, these measures can reduce your risk of exposure.
Seeing the Adoptive Parents at the Hospital
Your hospital plan is one of the most important pieces of your overall adoption journey. It is also the part of adoption that has, arguably, been most impacted by COVID-19.
Depending on the openness of your adoption, you may have planned for the adoptive parents to be present at the hospital. Seeing them shortly after birth, as they hold your baby for the first time, is a moment of deep importance. What happens if hospital restrictions on visitors take this moment away from your hospital plan?
First off, it’s important to know that every hospital visit will be unique. Whether or not yours can continue as planned will depend on the rules your specific hospital has in place in relation to visitors, COVID-19 testing and social distancing.
Second, the best way to get answers about how COVID-19 will change pre-placement contact during your hospital stay is to speak with your specialist. They will work with the hospital and the adoptive parents to create a new plan that works best for everyone. And, rest assured, the adoptive parents will do everything possible to meet your needs during this time.
Concerned? Call Your Specialist
Your adoption specialist is here for you throughout the adoption journey, and especially as you navigate the new requirements of COVID-19. We’re all learning how to navigate this virus together. Your specialist can give you pointers on how other adoption triads have managed, as well as guidance on adjusting to a new adoption communication plan and hospital plan.
Still considering adoption and
looking for a specialist? You can call us anytime at 1-800-ADOPTION.