I love open adoption, and I love summer! What better way to celebrate the season than getting together with the whole family for some fun outings? Regardless of whether you are seasoned pros at open adoption or you’re just beginning your journey, each of these suggestions will be a great opportunity to get to know each other, and your child, better.
My family loves the zoo so much we bought a zoo pass and go all the time. This is a great trip for kids of all ages, and you can stay as long or as short of a time as you’d like. Got a toddler who needs a nap? Come for a few hours in the morning. Have school-aged kids? Pack a lunch and plan to stay the whole day. New to open adoption? The zoo offers a place with plenty to see and talk about without having to make awkward small talk (because who doesn’t have something to say about those adorable koalas or majestic elephants?)
Going to a professional baseball game is another family favorite of ours, and again, it’s great in automatically giving you something to talk about. Most major and minor league stadiums have play areas for kids, mascots walking around, and entertainment between innings to keep kids entertained for an entire game. Even if sports aren’t your thing, baseball isn’t a fast sport that requires your constant attention in order to understand what’s going on or to have fun.
Pack a meal and head out to the park for some family picnic fun. Be sure to bring some games and toys to entertain little kids (maybe even a pack-n-play if you have a very young one) and just enjoy eating outside in nature. Picnics are a nice time to relax and get to know one another better. The unstructured nature of a picnic lends itself perfectly to facilitating meaningful conversations.
Maybe you have a great relationship with your child’s birth parents and you feel comfortable inviting them over to your house for a summertime cookout. We’ve had our son’s birth parents over several times, and it’s nice because our son is in the comfort of his own home. (The convenience factor of having his crib right upstairs to lay him down for a nap if he gets crabby is also a huge plus!) This also gives your child’s birth parents a chance to see him in his home doing his normal routine, which my son’s birth parents have told me they especially like. It helps to truly form relationships with each other instead of simply fulfilling a moral obligation.
Even the not-so-outdoorsy can enjoy going for a hike in the woods every so often. If you have young kids, turn the hike into a fun scavenger hunt—anything can become a game with a little effort. See how many different types of plants or animals you can discover, try a new trail, climb up some rock formations . . . be as adventurous as you allow yourself to be.
Head over to your community pool—most have guest passes/rates so it should be easy and inexpensive to have out-of-town guests join you. Or, if you’re close to a lake or ocean, take a trip to the beach. I haven’t met a kid yet who isn’t a fish when around water. I think my stepson grows gills in the summer, and his brother is quickly taking after him, even trying to swim in the bathtub!
Yes, I know movies aren’t always the best choice when trying to have a conversation or getting to know someone, but it’s sometimes nice to veg out for an hour or two with a tub of popcorn and get a break from reality. Just make sure to grab a meal before or after the movie so you can get some good conversation in.
If it’s a rainy summer day or exceptionally hot, checking out some local museums is a good way to beat the weather and find a new common interest between yourself and your child’s birth parents. Art, history, gardening, or even hitting up a children’s museum is a nice way to spend a few hours.
Putt Putt/Miniature Golf
My husband actually made this suggestion (after he suggested playing 18 holes of golf) and I really like it, although I am the worst putt putt player! Taking your kids and playing putt putt together is active enough for your restless toddler and still interesting and fun for older kids. Treating your kids (and yourselves!) to ice cream after makes for the perfect ending to a sweet time.
Taking a Day Trip
Are there places around you that might be a little far, but you’ve always wanted to check them out? Invite your child’s birth parents and plan a day trip to one of those destinations. The age of your kids and what’s available around you can help determine where you choose to go and how long to stay, but amusement parks, quaint old towns, or large outdoor shopping malls are just a few suggestions of places to travel to on a day trip.
Hopefully you can find a few things on this list to try before summer is over! But a lot of these activities you can also do year-round, so there’s no rush. Have a favorite open adoption activity not mentioned on the list? Please share it in the comments.
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