7 Tips for Virtual Visits with Birth Parents
It’s been a few long months since stay-at-home orders were issued in the United States. If you’re anything like us, you’re itching to see your loved ones in person. But, with that option off the table for now, how are you supposed to maintain a strong connection to your child’s birth family? With virtual birth parent visits. The coronavirus might be taking center stage right now, but there are plenty of ways to stay in touch while we’re apart. Whether you’re using Zoom, FaceTime or another video chat platform, check out these seven tips to make your virtual birth parent visit fun for everyone:
1. Start with some icebreakers.Video calls be pretty awkward, even when there’s not a global pandemic. Add kids who don’t really understand how video calls work to the mix, and you might have a difficult time getting everyone to sit still. If you’re worried about uncomfortable silences, it helps to have a few questions prepared ahead of time to get the ball rolling. A phone call is a two-way street, so make sure that you give a birth parent time to ask their own questions. If it goes well, you might be talking for longer than you expected!
2. Plan ahead.No one likes to be the first one to hang up. Before you start the call, try to set a schedule for how long you plan to be on the phone with one another. Make sure you’ve also got set activities in mind. This can help alleviate some anticipation and anxiety. Don’t forget to ask the birth parents if they have anything they’d like to do, too.
3. Catch a flick.We’ve got a little bit of time before movies theaters open back up. While you’re waiting for the summer blockbuster, plan your own film festival at home. If you use Chrome, you can download the Netflix Party browser extension. Once it’s finished, pressed the big red “N” in the right-hand corner, pick your movie or TV show, and then share the link with your party. Super simple! Just don’t forget the popcorn. There’s plenty to watch that’s entertaining for kids of all ages and adults. Start with “Scooby-Doo!: Mystery Incorporated,” “Avatar: The Last Airbender” or “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” The possibilities are endless. Whatever you decide to watch, you’re sure to have a great time.
4. Make it a family game night.You might not be able to gather around the table, but you can still have a great family game night even when you’re apart. There are plenty of fun games that are sure to keep the kids entertained. One of our favorites is Skribblio, a virtual version of Pictionary. You can make your own private room and then share the ID with everyone in the video call. You can even add your own words if you want to make it extra fun. A few more options are Taboo, Scattergories and Quick Draw.
5. Enjoy a meal together.Food always tastes better when you eat it with great people. If you have a favorite recipe, now’s the time to share it. Set up a day when you can make dinner together in the kitchen over video chat. You can also share tips as you make your meal together step-by-step. Dress up a little and make it a real dinner party. Check out some recipes that are easy to make with kids so that they stay involved, too.
6. Think outside the box.Now that everyone’s stuck inside, we’ve all had to think of creative ways to stay in touch and keep ourselves busy. But thankfully, we’ve had plenty of time to think of some great ideas. A lot of people have been taking their vacations virtually! Zoos, aquariums and museums have had to get creative to keep visitors entertained. While you’re inside, take advantage of everything they’re offering. A few places that you can visit from the comfort of your home are: arts and craft project together, write a story, or stretch your creative muscles with a game like Mad Libs.
7. Set the stage!A talent show, show-and-tell or comedy show is a great way for the kids to participate in the call. You can ask them to come prepared ahead of time or let them make it up on the spot!
---We know that settling for a video call isn’t ideal. If you’ve been planning your get-together for a while, it’s disappointing to have to put your plans on the back burner. But just know that you’re not alone. We’re all hanging in there together. For more suggestions on how to make a memorable virtual birth parent visit, reach out to your adoption professional.