How Do I Create a Visitation Plan With My Child’s Birth Parent?
In 2019, more than 64,000 children were adopted in the United States. According to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, 52% of those children were adopted by their foster parents, and 36% were adopted by a relative. When planning an open adoption, no matter what the child’s age, creating a visitation agreement with the birth parent and a New Jersey adoption attorney may help your family have a smoother transition and better communication.
Consider the Type of Adoption
The only type of adoption that allows the birth parent to visit with their biological child is an open adoption. The open adoption process requires careful navigation and planning, which is why it’s best to work with a New Jersey adoption attorney. In an open adoption, the adoptive parent or parents may choose to allow the birth mother or biological father of the child to occasionally or regularly communicate with their child through specific types of interactions at a specific frequency and through certain methods.
Determine the Timing of Communications
A very young child may not understand the difference between biological and adoptive parents. They may become confused or develop attachment disorders or other mental health issues if they don’t understand who their parents are. Some adoptive families choose to limit the child’s in-person interactions with the birth parents until the child is old enough to understand that they were adopted and their biological parents are different from the people who adopted them.
VeryWell Family suggests telling a child they are adopted by the age of 3. Use words the child can understand. Working with a child psychologist may help with this process.
Plan Which Types of Communication Are Allowed
Thanks to technology, there are many ways a birth parent can interact with their biological child and the child’s adoptive family. Consider how you want these interactions to take place. You might think about sending digital photos, setting up video calls, sending text messages or emailing. Phone calls and snail mail also facilitate regular communication between a birth parent and their biological child.
Decide on Visitation Times
For in-person visitation, consider which times and how frequently you want them to occur. Special events in a child’s life, such as their first birthday, first day of school or first school play may be of interest to their birth parent. The birth parent might want to see the child on their birthday or on religious holidays. Decide what you feel comfortable with, such as a two-hour visit on the child’s birthday.
Include Visitation Locations
The location of visits with your child and their birth parent matters. Your child may feel more comfortable at a neutral place, such as a children’s museum, counselor’s office or similar setting. If you’re comfortable, you could have the birth parent visit your child in your home.
Consider the Child’s Preferences
As the child gets older, you may want to reconsider the visitation agreement. Your child might wish to see their birth parent more or less frequently as they get older. They may have an idea of how they want to spend their birthdays, school breaks and other special events and days. Including your child in the process could help reduce confusion, resentment and negative feelings toward you or their birth parent.
If you’re considering an open adoption, speaking with a New Jersey adoption attorney will help you understand your rights and the rights of the birth parents. Knowing how to set up a visitation agreement with the birth parent also give you information about what to expect in the future for your family. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with the law firm of Cofsky & Zeidman, call our Haddonfield office at (856) 429-5005 or our Woodbury office at (856) 845-2555. You can also complete our online contact form, and our associate will reach out to you to schedule a consultation.