Pre-placement contact can be incredibly helpful during the adoption process. This time benefits all parties involved — when done the right way. Handled properly, it is a chance to increase the prospective birth mother’s confidence in her adoption decision and lay the foundation for ongoing open-adoption communication.

The degree of openness during pre-placement contact will differ from adoption to adoption. Everyone is unique, which means, in turn, that most adoption plans are also unique. If you are in an open adoption situation and are open to visiting the prospective birth mother in person during her pregnancy, there’s a chance your pre-placement communication will bring you to a prenatal doctor visit. And now you’re wondering, “What do I do?”

Being present for your prospective birth mother’s prenatal appointment is a rare and important opportunity. This is a chance for you to show strong support and form a deep bond. It’s also something that, because of its rarity, is not widely talked about. Finding information about the best way to act can be a challenge, but we’re here to help.

Here are five things to remember when attending the prospective birth mother’s prenatal appointment.

This is about her, not about you.

Tips for AFs at Prenatal visitsIt’s not easy to put others before yourself, especially when you are in the middle of something as challenging as the adoption process. But that’s just what you have to do. Prenatal appointments are about the prospective birth mother, not about you. Keep this in mind as a North Star for everything you do. Put her needs and feelings above your own.

Yes, the plan is for the baby to be placed with you for adoption. And yes, these prenatal appointments could ultimately have a long-lasting impact on your life. But right now, this is still about her. If things do come up — like questions you want to ask or additional information you’d like to hear — jot those down for later and leave the attention on the prospective birth mother in the moment.

Follow her communication plan.

A prospective birth mother will create an adoption plan when she decides to place her baby for adoption. This plan is comprehensive, and will include pre-placement communication guidelines. It will also include a hospital plan, which could cover how the prospective birth mom would like prenatal visits to go.

In a less formal way, you could have had discussions before the prenatal visit if you are in a completely open adoption. During these talks, the prospective birth mother may express hopes or concerns about you being in attendance for the prenatal appointment. Whether it’s from discussions or an official adoption plan, pay close attention to how she would like this appointment to go.

Your presence could be requested in the examination room, or it might be better if you wait in the lobby. The prospective birth mother may want to do all of the talking, or she could be open to your input throughout the appointment. Whatever the case, do what her plan says. Don’t push boundaries or assert yourself where it’s not yet welcome. Even though these appointments do pertain to your future baby, you’re still a guest at this moment.

Be flexible.

We know we just told you to stick to the plan, but also… be prepared for things to change. Confusing? We know it can be.

Prenatal visits can be volatile because they are so personal. There’s a chance that once the prospective birth mother is called back by her doctor, she’ll begin to feel new things and want to change the plans for the visit. Maybe, for example, she’ll decide at the last minute that it’d be better for you to wait in the lobby.

Our advice: just roll with it.

There’s nothing to be gained from pushing her in this situation. Holding her to her plan, instead of creating space for change, is likely to create tension and hard feelings. A prenatal appointment that goes well ends with feelings of security and confidence, not tension. The best way to get there is to be flexible and open-minded to changing circumstances.

Encourage, encourage, encourage.

You won’t be a passive figure during this time. One way or another, you’re going to have an impact. Is that impact going to be positive or negative? That’s up to you.

Proactively encourage the prospective birth mother during the prenatal appointment. Go out of your way to offer kind words. Always be on the lookout for an opportunity to impart confidence. Forge a positive energy that will ultimately create a stronger bond.

There will be moments when you don’t feel like being positive. Other things in life can bring you down. You may feel frustrated or simply tired. It’s important, to the best of your abilities, to put these things aside and find it in yourself to be encouraging and kind.

Understand that it is normal for both you and the prospective birth mother to feel emotionally connected to the baby.

Prospective birth mothers choose adoption from a place of love. It follows that an emotional response is normal during prenatal visits. Just because she is placing her baby for adoption doesn’t mean she won’t feel a loving connection. This is normal and good. Don’t let it scare you.

One of the beautiful parts of adoption is that, in loving and open relationships, a child can grow up with the knowledge that they are deeply loved by the adoptive and birth parents. By embracing this as early as the prenatal visits, you are laying the foundation for your child’s future formation of a positive self-identity grounded in adoption.

These are five things to keep in mind when preparing for a prenatal appointment with the prospective birth mother. This is a special opportunity to form a strong bond and give her confidence in her adoption decision. Handled correctly, it’s a big step on your way to a successful placement.

You’re likely going to have doubts and questions during this time. It’s always a good idea to call your adoption specialist. This is an important opportunity, and your adoption specialist will help your prepare for success. Call 1-800-ADOPTION to speak to an adoption specialist today.