How (and Why) Should I Get to Know the Birth Parents?
Once you are matched with a birth mother, your adoption may suddenly begin to feel more real. Now your adoption doesn’t just involve you, your spouse and your adoption professional; it now also involves a birth mother and hopefully your child. Indeed, exciting times are certainly ahead!At this point, you will have the opportunity to get to know more about the birth mother and, if he’s involved, the birth father. This is called pre-placement contact, and it usually involves some combination of emails, phone calls, and visits. Pre-placement contact can be great for both you and the birth parents because it can make you feel even more confident in your adoption plan. With that in mind, you want your first interaction to go as well as possible, so read the following to learn more about how to get the most out of pre-placement contact.
What Counts as Pre-Placement Contact?The type of communication you have with the birth parents will be different depending on your location, the desires of the birth mother, and how far she is in her pregnancy. However, you can expect some combination of three main kinds of contact:
- Conference call – Usually a week or two after you’ve been matched, you may have a phone call with the birth mother and an adoption specialist.
- Email correspondence – Emails are a great way to keep each other updated both before and after an adoption.
- Pre-placement visit – You may take a few days to travel to the birth mother’s home and meet her in person.
Why Should I Get to Know the Birth Parents?The benefits of a good relationship with the birth parents are endless. Everyone involved in the adoption has a lot to gain by an open channel of communication, both before and after the adoption.
Benefits for the Birth ParentsSo many birth parents pursue open adoptions because communication with the adoptive family offers them:
- Peace of mind – Pre-placement contact allows a birth mother to feel that the adoption process is going along smoothly. When she knows that you feel positively about the match and are appreciative and considerate of her, she can focus on her pregnancy without having to worry.
- Reassurance in their decision – Before the first phone calls and meetings, a birth mother has only seen your profile. Once she gets to speak to you and get to know you, she will feel even more positive about the match.
- Opportunities to ask questions – The birth mother is likely very curious about you and wants to envision what her child’s life will be like. Through pre-placement contact, she can get a better picture by asking you directly.
Benefits for the Adoptive FamilyAs an adoptive family, you can also benefit from pre-placement contact:
- Decreased risk of a disrupted adoption – By meeting up with the birth parents, you can help them feel that they are making the right choice, and they may be less likely to change their minds later.
- Foundation of a good relationship – You may have a relationship with the birth parents after the baby is born, so it never hurts to get a head start. Getting to know each other now will make communication that much simpler later on.
- Increased confidence – When you meet with the birth parents and see that they truly like you, you may feel a sense of pride in knowing that you were specially picked to be the parents of someone’s child.
How Do I Talk to the Birth Parents?It can be difficult to know what to say – and more importantly, what not to say – to the birth parents. Don’t overthink the situation, though; they are probably just as nervous as you are. You want to keep the conversation pleasant and casual, especially during your first meeting. There will be plenty of opportunities to talk about the details of your adoption, so take the time to enjoy getting to know these important figures in your life. If the birth father is present and supportive, or if the birth mother has brought other family members, be sure to make them feel welcome and included in the conversation. If you are unsure of what to say, here are some appropriate questions you can ask the birth mother to get the conversation started:
- What are some of your interests and hobbies?
- How are you feeling?
- What did you like about our profile?
- What kinds of activities do you see your child doing?
- Is there anything you would like to know about us?
Topics to AvoidThe birth mother is probably experiencing a lot of emotions during this time in her life, and you want to be sensitive to that. Here are some subjects you don’t want to bring up during your first meeting:
- Medical history
- Other pregnancies
- Unsupportive family members
- Uninvolved birth fathers