An unfortunate number of people say hurtful things to a pregnant woman who is making an adoption plan: occasionally out of malice, but usually out of ignorance. So, before you or someone you know makes the same mistake, learn how to talk to someone who is facing an unplanned pregnancy and considering adoption:
More than anything, offer her words of encouragement and love — as often as possible.
Tell her that she is:
For Friends and Family of the Expectant Mother
Every pregnant woman making an adoption plan is different, so there’s no script that we can give you. But you know her, so trust your gut! She probably won’t communicate with the adoptive parents that she’s choosing for her baby every day, so you’ll likely be with her more often during her pregnancy. You may be firsthand witness to other peoples’ responses when she tells them about her adoption plan.
As someone who loves and supports this woman, it may be up to you to educate others about how to talk to her with kindness. Here are some tips for yourself and others:
Try to be a neutral source of support. Up until your loved one signs her consent and her decision is final, she can still choose between parenting and placing her baby. You have to be careful not to pressure her one way or another, even if you have your own opinions. Instead, reassure her that you’ll support her no matter what she decides.
Remind her that this is her decision. She may turn to you for advice. After all, this is one of the most difficult decisions a person can make. But while you can (and should) offer her your love and support, remind her that nobody can know what’s right but her.
Speak in present tense. This means avoiding talking about how great it’ll be when she brings the baby home, how excited the adoptive family will be when they meet the baby, or how disappointed someone in her life will be when she doesn’t parent. Not only do those types of phrases put pressure on her, they depict potential futures that might not happen. It’s natural to wonder about what could happen, but for now, stay grounded in the present and take things as they come.
Listen more than you talk. The adoption process is a very emotional time, and your loved one will likely look to you for support. Like anyone, she’ll likely just want to vent sometimes, even if it has nothing to do with adoption or pregnancy. Rather than trying to fix things for her or offering advice, just listen. It can help to talk through things out loud.
For Adoptive Parents
When you first meet and start talking to a pregnant woman who has chosen you to potentially be her baby’s parents, you can feel like you’re walking on eggshells. What if I say the wrong thing and she decides we’re not the right fit anymore? What if I accidentally come across as too pushy? What if I don’t sound excited enough?
Your adoption specialist will be there to guide you all during those initial conversations, and then things will start to flow a little more naturally as you get to know one another. But you’re likely still nervous about saying the wrong thing. Here are some tips:
She’s not a birth mom. Some waiting parents remain painfully aware of this, while others can’t help themselves from getting excited. Remember that she hasn’t placed her baby at this point, even if she’s very committed. She still has the right to change her mind, and you should use language that respects her current status. So, she is “considering adoption,” or “making an adoption plan.” She’s an “expectant mother,” or a “prospective birth mother.” Some women prefer different terminology, so you can always ask, but these are the most commonly used types of phrases to describe where she’s at during her pregnancy.
Talk about *not-the-baby*. The last thing you’d want is for her to feel as if you view her as a means to an end. You’ll likely talk a lot about the baby together, and that’s great — that’s important, too! But if every conversation is about the baby, she may start to worry that’s all you value her for. Talk about your mutual interests, share some recipes, or just chat about your families, what you’re watching on Netflix, or whatever you want.
Give her the opportunity to ask questions. Ask her if there’s anything she wants to know. She might be understandably curious about her baby’s potential family! It can be comforting for her to get answers to anything she may have been wondering about, and to picture what her baby’s life would be like with you.
Express positivity and excitement. It’s good to let the expectant mom know you’re excited to get to know her, that you’re thrilled she chose to reach out to you and that you’re excited to be parents. While you don’t want to come across as pushy, it can be reassuring for a prospective birth mother to know that you’re fully committed to adoption and to her.
Need some more advice about talking to someone who is making an adoption plan for their child? You can always reach out to an American Adoptions specialist for guidance.