Coming up with a comfortable and enjoyable location for open adoption visits can sometimes be challenging.  Whether you are still working on building a relationship or you fit together like an old pair of shoes, you still want the visits to be in places that you have fun, can enjoy good conversation, and see the children in action. Some adoptive families and birth families live very close while many others live far apart. No matter what the distance, picking a location that everyone will enjoy can add stress to the day. I have compiled some of our favorite locations to get together during our open adoption visits to help take some of the planning off your plate.

1. The Park. With so many local parks in every town, the options are endless. You can go for bike rides, take long strolls, find a playground, enjoy a picnic, or whatever fun you can find. These offer a laid-back setting and are typically free or very inexpensive. You can spend a whole day together just enjoying each other’s company, playing and being active!

2. The Beach. Whether you are near an ocean or a lake, meeting up at a beach during warmer months can be a lot of fun. Digging in the sand, swimming in the water, or even renting or taking your boat can make the trip a memorable day. Don’t forget your camera!

3. Water Park. A water park can really get everyone involved in the fun of the day. There is something that everyone will enjoy and is a great way to cool down on a hot day. 

4. Amusement Park. If your children are like mine, they are busy, busy, BUSY! An amusement park can be costly, but a nice treat occasionally. While there are a variety of rides and attractions, you will not only enjoy many laughs together, but also have down time waiting in line to catch up and talk about everything going on in life. Seeing the children have fun is fun for all the parents involved.

5. Wildlife. Check out the local zoo, wildlife park, or aquarium. Kids and adults love animals. While it’s educational, it’s also fun to watch children full of wide-eyed amazement while having close-up interactions with their favorite wildlife. These venues often have “kid’s zones,” where the little people can get some hands-on time with some of the animals, and they’ll often include a craft area so you can take home something to remember your day together.

6. Home. Whether it’s a backyard BBQ, lunch or dinner at home, playtime, a holiday or birthday, it’s always nice to just relax at home. You can see each other in a personal environment and build trust through openness.

7. Restaurant. Everyone has to eat! It doesn’t have to be a formal sit-down dinner, but a casual restaurant or even fast food can provide a quick opportunity to see each other in person, catch up. You may take for granted knowing what your child’s favorite lunch or drink is, but his birth parents will enjoy the opportunity to see it in person. Remember to bring along craft gifts that your child may have made for his birth parents! 

8. Festival or Community Event. Take advantage of community events. Throughout the year there are many festivals and events that can be fun for the whole family. Fireworks by the river, street food festivals, art shows, carnivals at local churches, and much more! Another thing to consider is the many sporting events. Year round there are indoor and outdoor sports that are a blast to go to with a group. If you child is on a team, going to his games or her dance recitals is a great way to share the pride in your child.

9.  Activity Center. Whether it’s an arcade, go-carts, bowling, putt-putt, a maze, museum, or other fun activity, you’ll have the opportunity to share common interests, see the children having fun, and bond over some friendly competition.

10.   Girl’s or Guy’s Time. All open adoption visits don’t have to include the whole family. What about a “girls only” day? Go get your nails painted and see a show. Or how about a guy’s day out fishing, playing sports, or camping overnight? What a great way to have more one-on-one time as the kids get a little older.

11.  Seasonal Events. Every year there are tons of special events around town that are seasonal.  Maple syrup tours, Easter egg hunts, Fourth of July fireworks, pumpkin patch hayrides, Christmas light setups, and more. These can be a lot of fun, sometimes educational, and usually inexpensive.

Not only is picking a good location important for comfort for everyone attending, but having fun together is a great way to bond. You don’t want to be in a situation where you just stare at each other (or your watch), wondering when the visit will end, but you also don’t want your visit to be so packed with activities that you can’t enjoy each other’s company. As your relationship grows, so will the ease of picking locations to meet and feeling comfortable no matter where you are.

Do you have a favorite place to meet up for your open adoption visits?