Once you receive that long awaited confirmation that you are matched, you are now ready to move into the next phase of your adoption journey – getting to know and building a relationship your birth parents. You may or may not have talked with your birth parents during the selection process, so you may or may not have begun this process. Your interactions may be with a phone call, Skype call, communication through your case worker or in-person meetings. Your future interactions will be based on the type of adoption your birth parent has chosen and you have agreed to.
Now that you are matched, most birth parents will want to start to get to know you better. When birth parents are looking for an adoptive family, they look for specific facts about the families, but once they conclude finding an adoptive family they will want to get to know your personal side.
You may wonder what types of questions you can ask the expectant mother. Talk with your caseworker and be prepared with a list of the questions to ask and not to ask! A good rule of thumb is not to ask questions that you yourself would not be comfortable answering when you first meet someone. Being prepared can help to alleviate the worries and nerves you may have with that first conversation or meeting.
Tips and suggestions:
– Put yourself in her shoes. If you are nervous, an expectant mother may even be more so. With an unplanned pregnancy, the expectant mother is dealing with a lot of feelings – fear, loss of control, guilt and insecurity. A lot of things may be going through her mind. She may be anxious that you may judge her. Try to empathize with her and understand the position she is in, as well. If you have not been a birth mother, it would be best to avoid saying that you “understand how she feels”.
– Do not make assumptions. Women who are faced with an unexpected pregnancy have a unique story. The birth parents will have all of their parental rights until they decide to sign legal paperwork to terminate their parental rights. Make certain that you understand the state laws you will be working with and let the birth parent’s counselor inform them of their legal rights. Do not act as if the placement and the mother’s decision is already a done deal and do not try to engage in a conversation regarding the legal side of the adoption. Defer all of those questions and any other questions that are not comfortable to the adoption agency team.
– Be approachable. Smile, relax and simply be yourself. Sincerity and a heartfelt conversation will go a long way in building a relationship. Casual dress and a relaxed setting will be best.
– Choose a friendly place to meet. Rather than arranging to meet at the adoption agency’s office, try to meet on “neutral ground” such as a restaurant. The motions of ordering, getting your food and eating as you go on with your talk is not just relaxing, but will also serve to break any tension. Start out with friendly conversation, such as what their favorite foods are or if they have any interests in sports, hobbies, etc. and build from there.
– Bring pictures. Extra photos will reinforce the story you began with your adoption profile. Give her a feel of your home and family life, your interests, your potential parenting style.
– Ask questions. But don’t do this like you would an interrogation. This is your getting-to-know talk and you would of course like to know more about her and the baby. If you are meeting with both of the birth mother and birth father make sure to try and include everyone in the conversation. You may also have separate meetings with the birth parents depending on the situation.
Some questions to ask:
o When she is giving birth
o How the pregnancy is coming along
o How she is feeling
o If there is anything she would like you to pass onto the child
o Do you have future plans after the delivery
o What she does during her free time and look for common points of interest
Encourage your birth parents to also ask you questions. Your talk should be a two-way street. She may be too shy, so you can get the ball rolling. Let the adoption counselor and caseworkers help with the conversation, if needed. The agency staff has a great deal of knowledge and experience with creating the relationships. Talk about yourself, about your desire to be parents and your journey towards parenthood.