Meeting the Birth Mother: A Guide for Adoptive Parents
For those considering adoption, the idea of meeting the placing mother or parents can be very intimidating. The placing mother is the birth mother of the adopted child, and it is generally through a meeting with her that the adoptive parents are chosen. Therefore, it is no surprise that many find the experience borders on nerve-racking. That is why we have composed this guide to help you get through the initial meeting, while at the same time helping you to put your best food forward when meeting the birth mother.
What to Expect
Many adoption agencies recommend that potential adoptive parents meet the birth mother before finalizing the adoption. In this way, a connection can be made and realistic goals and expectations can be established before the child arrives. This is particularly important when an open adoption is being arranged. And while the prospect might seem daunting at first, many adoptive parents report the experience as being an immensely positive one.
During this meeting, the adoptive parents, the birth mother and a social worker or adoption agency representative will all sit down to discuss the adoption. Questions regarding the adoption are generally reserved for the social worker or representative, while the birth mother and adoptive parents usually only intervene to ask getting-to-know-you type questions. Depending on the flow of conversation, the meetings usually last between 20 and 45 minutes.
Advantages of Meeting the Birth Mother
While meeting the birth parents will no doubt be an emotional part of the adoption process, it can often provide great satisfaction for all parties involved. Here are some good reasons to consider meeting the birth mother:
- Meeting the birth mother means having a great opportunity to reassure her of her decision. Being able to meet and know the family her child will be raised by often means she will be more likely to proceed with the adoption process.
- As adoptive parents, you will be more clear as to the birth mother’s intentions with regard to the adoption and her thoughts and feelings surrounding it.
- You will also be able to find out the child’s medical history.
- You will be able to explain to your child where she came from and why she was adopted.
- Everyone’s roles, both of the birth parents and the adoptive parents, will be clearly defined.
Understanding Where She’s Coming From
One of the top concerns for adoptive parents is whether or not the birth mother will change her mind. While this is an understandable source of apprehension, it is important to know that most birth mothers choosing adoption do so out of a genuine interest in doing what they feel is best for their child. And while many may find the experience difficult, most do stick with it.
That being said, meeting her child’s potentially new family can be just as emotional, if not more so, for the birth mother as it is for the adoptive parents. Therefore, it is important that potential adoptive parents be sensitive to this during the meeting. Here are some tips for making things easier for all involved during this part of the adopting process:
- Listen. While this may sound painfully obvious, it is often one of the most difficult things to do in a meeting of this nature. Often we become so focused on our own thoughts that we become distracted, and instead of listening to everything a person is saying we only selectively hear what we feel will direct the conversation towards what we want to talk about. Be aware of this and as much as possible try to listen to everything the mother says. In addition to making your conversation more meaningful, this will also help to put her at ease about the fact that you are sincerely interested in wanting to adopt her child.
- Ask questions. While you don’t want to drill her, it is important to show a genuine interest in her life and situation. Be sure not to judge her, or preach to her. Also, ask first if she would like to learn more about you before you talk about your own experiences.
- Demonstrate understanding. When we are talking, we send out cues to one another to show we are listening. Be aware of your eye contact, head nods, and the words you choose. By showing that you’re tuned in, you will have a better chance of making a more personal connection with the birth mother.
Most importantly, remember to be yourself during the interview process. And don’t take it too personally if it doesn’t work out. Often the reasons for this are far beyond your control. Instead, focus on all the reasons you’ll make a great parent, and eventually you too will find your match.
For more information on the adoption process visit the adoption page on Shared Journey.