With modern technology, prospective birth mothers can locate hopeful adoptive families faster than ever. However, the benefit of working with an adoption agency like American Adoptions ensures that prospective birth mothers connect with families like yours. That’s why it’s so important to be willing to meet a prospective birth mother early in the adoption process.
Jennifer Van Gundy, LMSW, director of social services at American Adoptions, said that the benefits of making an early connection are endless for both prospective birth parents and hopeful adoptive families. “Early contact helps increase the chance of a successful adoption and positive relationship in the future,” she adds.
Getting to know your baby’s birth parents early in the adoption process may seem intimidating. But, remember: a prospective birth mother chose you to be her baby’s adoptive parent. That’s the most challenging step! Early meetings will only help solidify the prospective birth mother’s choice, allowing everyone’s relationship to grow.
American Adoptions’ adoptive family specialists are skilled at setting up conference calls and in-person meetings between hopeful adoptive families and prospective birth parents early in the adoption process. Although your specialist will prepare you for early communication, we want to explain why early connections are beneficial and detail a few preparation tactics.
Open Adoption and Early Contact
In the past, most adoptions were closed, meaning that the prospective birth mother and hopeful adoptive family never met. But, now, adoption is much more open thanks to a few aspects:
Megan Kautio, LBSW, assistant executive director at American Adoptions, notes that social media makes early contact during the adoption process incredibly easy. This new reality has positive and negative aspects.
“People are using social media to connect faster and share more openly than ever before, and we have seen this with adoption as well,” Kautio said. “We still provide guidance and cautions for our clients when using social media, but we have to be realistic about what is available and ultimately what women tell us they need to be able to choose adoption.”
Less Social Stigma
In the past, people typically didn’t talk about adoption. Hopeful adoptive families and prospective birth mothers did not meet or exchange information. And adopted children often had little to no information about their birth parents.
Thankfully, over the years, adoption has become more open. Most prospective adoptive parents at least agree to a semi-open adoption because of its many benefits.
Open Adoption Benefits Everyone
If you’re a hopeful adoptive parent reading this, you probably already know that open adoption benefits everyone. You benefit from:
- Getting to know the prospective birth mother’s history and recording it to share with your child
- Forming a strong relationship with the birth mother
- And more
And the prospective birth mother benefits from:
- Getting updates regarding her child
- Getting to build a relationship with her child
- Building a relationship with the adoptive family
- And more
How to Prepare for the First Phone Call
If your first conference call is in a few days, you’re most likely feeling many emotions. This is the time to lean into your adoptive family specialist’s experience. Your adoption professional can help you keep this call in perspective and suggest how to prepare.
One bit of advice that’s evergreen for these situations is that you and the prospective birth mother will both feel nervous on the call. You don’t need to force conversation or overthink it – your adoption specialist will help guide everyone on the call. Prepare as best you can and enjoy meeting your baby’s birth mother for the first time.
Start With Simple Questions
Small talk helps the first conversation flow. Try to learn about the prospective birth mom’s hobbies and interests and see what you have in common. Learning about shared family traditions, pastimes, or favorite foods is fun. After all, these small commonalities can help build lasting bonds.
Avoid Challenging Subjects
Although you and the prospective birth mom may eventually discuss challenging topics, it’s best to leave these subjects out of the conversation. Try not to talk about the prospective birth father if he’s not involved or about the mom’s medical history.
You can ask your adoption specialist if you have any pressing concerns or questions. They can help get answers in a more nuanced, less charged environment.
Ask About Her Feelings
It’s okay to talk to the prospective birth mother about her pregnancy and ask how she’s doing. It shows you care about her needs during the adoption, too.
One of the ways you can show your care for the prospective birth mother is by remaining sensitive to her situation and not making assumptions about her life. Two ways you can do this include:
- Understanding the prospective birth mother’s baby is not yours until she signs the adoption papers. Reflect that you know this by saying phrases like “considering adoption” or “choosing adoption.”
- Understanding she’s the “prospective birth mother,” “expectant birth mother,” or a “woman considering adoption.” She’s not the birth mother until her baby is born and placed with your family.
Talk About Your Profile
Asking the prospective birth mother why she liked your profile is a wonderful conversation starter. After all, your profile was the one that stood out! Find out why and discover the interests you have in common.
Be Open to Questions
Communicate to the prospective birth mother that you’re open to her questions. You can start the informal Q&A by telling her about your home, community, extended family, and pets. The more information you share, the better you’ll be able to build a bond.
Future Early Meetings
Jennifer said that her favorite part of the adoption is seeing the initial connection between the hopeful adoptive family and the prospective birth mother. It’s this connection that helps an expectant mom know her baby will be placed in a safe and stable home and that the hopeful family is committed to her.
And Megan notes that early contact can strengthen the connection and trust much sooner and, in some ways, allow both parties to let their guard down and focus on what they want to achieve. “Having early contact with a prospective family can help a woman considering adoption figure out if she can truly envision placing her child with another family or not,” she adds.
You can continue growing your relationship with the prospective birth mother by scheduling additional calls or in-person meetings as her pregnancy progresses. The more conversations you have, the more your relationship will grow.
Remember: Meeting with the prospective birth mother early in the adoption process may feel intimidating at first, but having more time to get to know her will benefit you, her, and the baby in many ways, including:
- An early conference call can help the prospective birth mother and hopeful adoptive family start their relationship early in the mother’s pregnancy. “It has always been important to get a birth mother connected to an adoptive family as soon as she is ready,” Jennifer adds. “All the steps can be overwhelming to a birth mother, so getting her connected to a family as soon as possible may help those steps seem worth it.”
- An early conference call allows both parties to speak with their adoption specialists about any questions the initial conference call brings up.
- Connecting early on can allow both parties to determine that this adoption opportunity is right for everyone involved.
If you’ve yet to start to adoption process but are ready to talk to an adoption specialist, you can reach out to one of American Adoptions’ adoptive family specialists at 1-800-ADOPTION today for free.