Since we have an open adoption, we have a contract with our birth mom and birth dad stipulating visitation and written communication for them. Because they are not together, we have separate contracts. She is entitled to up to three visits per year, and four written communications per year (including pictures). He is entitled to one visit per year and four written communications per year (including pictures). The written communication is required, and we are sending an update approximately every three months. The visits are not required if the birth parent does not request them.
We have had one visit so far, and it went well. Our birth mom, from the very beginning, was not sure she wanted to have any post-placement visits, but she did request one when he was about 3 months old. We met, of all non-neutral places, at her mother’s home. I was nervous about the visit, but everything went fine. Her social worker was there (a minimum requirement for me), and we had a set time to arrive and leave so it would not be an open-ended visit. Standard visits last 1-2 hours, so that is what we arranged.
I am very glad we were able to have that visit, because not only was our birth mom present, but her mother and grandmother were there as well. I wanted them all to be able to see our son, to see that he is happy and thriving, and most importantly that he is loved. I was even more grateful the next month that we did this when we did, because we learned that our birth mom’s mother passed away unexpectedly. She, in particular, had some big reservations about the adoption…at least, until she met us and learned what open adoption is. Her concerns stemmed from the fact that she surrendered one of her own daughters (she has four), and was never given the option to know the adoptive parents or see that her daughter was ok. She never stopped grieving about it, and once she understood what our post-placement relationship would be like with our birth mom, she was completely supportive and on board.
I don’t know if we will have any more visits. None have been requested so far, and our birth mom told us when we saw her four months ago that she probably wouldn’t want another visit. You do have to take those comments with a grain of salt, because even though she has access, there is still a grieving process. And even though she is still certain she did the right thing, she still needs the reassurance that he is ok. He is more than ok…he is wonderful, and happy, and growing like a weed…all things I make sure are evident in the pictures we send her.
My hope and prayer for her is that she is buoyed by our letters and pictures. I hope that she doesn’t ever feel we want to prevent her from seeing him and knowing he is doing well. I hope she requests a visit if she needs it, and doesn’t deny herself what is her contractual right, especially if it will calm her heart. I hope that she sees God’s presence in all that we have been through together, in the clear connection that we have with our son, and in our continued affection for her and gratefulness to her. Most of all, I hope she sees God’s incredible, empowering, and steadfast love.