Once you’ve completed your birth mother search, meeting a likely birth mother is nerve wracking and scary. This first encounter can establish an impression and understanding between both parties. The way you two get along will heavily influence whether or not a birth mother wishes to follow through with the adoption process.
You may be contemplating whether you want to establish an open adoption. An open adoption allows the adoptive parents and adopted child to remain in contact and interact with the child’s biological parents; the extent of their interaction is determined by the adoptive parents. The fact that open adoptions are becoming more prevalent is in large part to the growing benefits of maintaining a relationship between a child and the biological parents or mother.
If you would like to keep an open relationship with your birth mother, it’s important to make a good first impression. That’s why we’ve put together a few tips to help make the first encounter a pleasant and memorable one for all involved.
There’s a reason eyes are such a captivating attribute. They allow us to read the other person and channel unspoken thoughts. They can translate so many emotions without so much as a word.
Establishing and keeping eye contact is a sign of respect. It lets the person know they have your undivided attention. When talking to a possible birth mother during your adoption process, be sure to hold and maintain eye contact while holding a conversation. Not only are you going to improve your chances of leaving a great first impression, but you’re also being engaged in the conversation and showing her how you’re interested in what she has to say. Making great eye contact can make all the difference in establishing a friendly and open relationship that welcomes communication between both parties.
Listening requires a lot more than just hearing a message. It means receiving, understanding, evaluating, remembering and responding to a speaker, which in this case is your prospective birth mother. Not only should you be sure to listen, but try to be an active listener. Being an active listener means providing feedback. You can provide feedback with a simple smile or nod. A good listener is also aware of their body language. Slouching can be indicative of someone who isn’t invested in the conversation. Try to imagine yourself on the receiving end. Give off the kind of attention you would like in return.
Being a good listener also means you’re attempting to make a real connection with the mother of your adoptive child. Listening means taking in what she’s saying, and not taking over the conversation. She has as many questions and insecurities about the adoption process as you do, so it’s important to show that you respect her concerns.
Do not interrupt her; let her finish her thought instead of cutting her off. Cutting her off may discourage her from feeling open and comfortable enough to answer further questions. It’s also rude, and you certainly don’t want the birth mother to perceive you as rude, even though you may just be anxious. Allowing her to finish what she has to say will encourage her to feel at ease with you. This simple skill can go a long way.
Did you know the average person thinks almost five times faster than they speak? Often times, when someone tells us to “think before we speak,” it’s easier said than done. Avoid saying something you may later regret by coming to your meeting prepared.
SEE ALSO: The Growth of Open Adoptions
Preparing questions will not only reduce your anxiety, but it will allow you and a potential birth mother to make the most of this meeting. You’ll both be able to get the information you seek. Try to keep in mind what she, as an expecting mother, is going through; her experience should be considered when preparing your questions. You may find she is experiencing the same fears you are.
Remember that the stress in this situation isn’t one-sided, and she’s nervous too. It’s important to discuss and research appropriate questions as well as what questions or topics to avoid. You want to be sensitive to the difficult situation this young woman is in.
Questions to consider asking could include how her pregnancy has been and how she’s feeling. These questions show that you’re interested in her health just as much as the baby. It’s also helpful to you to know if she’s had any difficulties during the pregnancy that may warrant medical attention.
Above all, you should avoid preconceived notions about your birth mother. Women who choose to place their babies for adoption come from all walks of life. Listen with an open mind instead. As we said earlier, avoid questions that may be difficult or sensitive topics. If you find the conversation has opened up, you might reconsider asking them later on, when the timing is better and you’ve gotten to know each other a little more.
One thing that should be heavily considered is how you’re choosing to word your questions. You shouldn’t phrase a question in a way that implies a negative answer. Lastly, if you notice the birth mother is retreating from answering any questions in particular, do your best to move on. While you may feel the answer to a certain question is essential, it’s necessary to make sure she’s comfortable around you and with you.
After you’ve dedicated enough time to getting to know her, suggest having her ask you questions about your family, your relationship and anything else that may give her a better sense of who you are as an individual, as well as who you and your partner are as a couple and potential parents. Giving her the opportunity to get a sense of the person you are may make the decision process a little easier.
Consider talking about why you long to become a parent. Talk about the kind of environment you hope to provide for your child and the support system that will help care for the child. Also, try asking if there’s anything you may have left out that she might want to discuss. From this you may gain very valuable information you might’ve overlooked.
When you have made the decision to adopt a child you don’t want anything to stand in your way. Lay the groundwork for an open and positive relationship with your child’ birth mother by being respectful and caring. Everyone wants what’s best for the child, so work together to create a good line of communication and network of support.