Ask AF: Our First Visit with Our Child's Birth Parents

A mother is nervous about the upcoming first birth family visit, wondering what it will be like, how to react if she or the birth mother get upset. Parents in open adoptions offer advice.

Q: We are approaching our first birth family visit since we left the hospital with our daughter about eight months ago. At the birth mother’s request, we didn’t have contact with her for the first three months, but, since then, we have sent photos and exchanged text messages and emails with her. Our communications have all been short and seem positive, but I know that an in-person visit will be much different. What should we expect? How do we react if she breaks down? How do we respond if they ask for private time with our daughter? Was it hard for you to see your child and his or her birth parents interacting with each other?

Members of adoptivefamiliescircle.com respond:

“We met at a family friendly restaurant, which gives everyone something to do, and we took lots of pictures. If the birth parents are parenting other children, I would bring small gifts for them (books or activity books, so they have something to do). Eight months is too young for the birth parents to have alone time with the baby; your daughter would just get upset at being left with someone new to her. I would keep things light and positive. My daughter, especially, was happy to sit on her birth mom’s lap and interact with her as long as Dad and I were right there at the same table.”

“I would prepare yourself for having a myriad of feelings at the first birth family visit. We saw our son’s birth mom for the first time when he was three weeks old. That was an emotional but very pleasant visit. The next one was harder for me. I had some very strong feelings of ‘mine!’ I am not proud of those feelings, but they were there. The next few were also hard, and his birth mom was highly critical. I see this now for the desire to help and have input, but, at the time, I just felt irritated and challenged. I am not saying that you are going to feel that way. Lots of people don’t. But if you do, don’t panic. It will get better. Our visits have gotten a lot more comfortable over the past three years. Keep calm and give yourself time to process it all.”

“I’m not gonna lie—our first couple of meetings were awkward. At the very first one, when our daughter was three months old, her birth mom held her like a fragile piece of porcelain. Needless to say, she’s gotten more comfortable with her since! But we went into it knowing it was going to benefit everyone involved, especially our daughter. If your child’s birth mother gets upset, I would say to react as you would if anyone else were upset. You may be pleasantly surprised at how well it goes.”

“I was also anxious, but none of my fears were realized. We met at a restaurant that was located in a shopping district, so, when we were done eating, we just walked around doing some window shopping, getting a coffee, and so on, while we caught up on everyone’s life. No one ever asked for alone time. When the birth mother held my daughter in my direction and said, “I think she needs to be changed,” I knew I had nothing to worry about. She already decided she didn’t want to be her mother. She just wants to make sure we’re all OK. Good luck!”

“Expect everyone to be nervous. There will most likely be tears, but also lots of smiles. I stay close until our little guy is OK, then grab my camera and take pictures throughout our visits. She’s never asked for private time. My son is two-and-a-half now and we look forward to visits. I love seeing how proud his birth mom is of her decision and how in awe she is of our son.”

“The way I try to look at it is this: This person (or people) loves your child as much as you do! In fact, their love was so big, they chose you to give her the life they didn’t think they could provide. Just continue to be open and honest with her and it should be fine. She is just as nervous, if not more so, than you. Best of luck, and I hope you are able to enjoy your time together!”

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