In a recent post I wrote about the first post-placement visit with my (placed) son. This got me thinking about visits in general, beyond the first visit.
Open adoption visits can be great. You are able to spend time and connect with your child and talk with the parents to learn how your child is doing. However, at the same time, visits can be difficult, emotional, and bittersweet. Below are some ways I have learned to cope with the challenging side of open adoption visits.
Know that if you feel emotional during or after a visit, this is normal. Don’t be hard on yourself for having emotions. I always tried to hold my emotions in until after a visit. I didn’t want my son and his family to see me upset, but sometimes this isn’t possible.
Leaving visits can be tough because it feels like you are saying goodbye all over again. I try and think of it as saying “see you later” instead of “goodbye.” I know it sounds a bit silly and just semantics, but it really does help to change your mindset and look at it differently.
Choose a date at the end of the visit for the next visit. This really helped me. Leaving it open-ended and not knowing when I would see my son and his family again was emotionally difficult for me. I soon discovered I felt much better when I knew a tentative date for the next visit. Even something as broad as during a certain month was helpful to me. I gently explained to my son’s Mom why this helped me, and she was more than willing to oblige.
Journaling after a visit can be helpful as well. I would not only write about my thoughts, feelings, and emotions during the visit, I’d also write about what we did during the visit. Cute things my son said or did, and ways he looked or acted like me. Birth mother journaling is a very useful coping tool.
Despite the challenging parts, I would not give up visits because the benefits for my child far outweigh anything else. The visits have gotten easier on me emotionally now that my son is older, and I look forward to each and every one.