The Adoption Opportunity – the point when you are matched with a prospective birth mother – is one of the biggest steps in every family’s adoption journey. While it is a very exciting time, it can also be very stressful. You may find yourself thinking constantly about the birth mother who has selected you, and asking yourself: what if she doesn’t like me?
This is why pre-placement visits are so important. By meeting the birth mother in person, you can both feel that much more confident in pursuing your adoption plan. About half of adoption opportunities involve a pre-placement visit, and they offer enormous benefits for both the birth mother and the family. However, they also require some careful preparation to be sure you have the most positive experience possible.
If you and a spouse are involved in the adoption, you both need to be there. If you have other children, they may also be present; however, this will be largely based on the birth mother’s comfort. If the birth mother is uncomfortable meeting your other children at this point, you may be asked not to bring them along. Other people who might be at the meeting are the birth father, a member of the birth mother’s support system, an adoption specialist, or the birth mother’s other children, if she has any. You will be told ahead of time who to expect there.
What will you talk about? You want to know as much as you can about the birth mother, and chances are she wants to know the same about you. At the same time, it’s important that you don’t overstep your boundaries or ask inappropriate questions. Be sure to keep the conversation light and avoid sensitive subjects such as the birth father (unless he is involved) and medical history. If you aren’t sure of what to ask or how to start the conversation, try some of these questions:
- What are some of your hobbies?
- What are your favorite books or movies?
- What kinds of activities do you imagine your child doing?
- What do you want to know about us?
- How are you feeling?
While pre-placement phone calls typically occur a week or two after matching, in-person meetings can take a little more time and planning, especially if you live in different states. If the birth mother is very close to her due date, this could also change your schedule. Typically, though, you can expect a visit to include one or two meetings over the course of a weekend.
Where you choose to meet will depend on a number of factors: where you both live, how long you want the visit to last, and how far into the pregnancy the birth mother is, to name a few. Most often, though, a pre-placement visit will take place in a casual, neutral setting that allows for conversation to flow freely and without interruptions or distractions.
Many times, a family and birth mother will meet for lunch and have a nice conversation while they eat. If you or the birth mother has other children, you could meet at a park and get to know each other while the kids play. Another possibility is touring the hospital where the delivery will take place.
Keep in mind that you will be the one to travel to the birth family’s location; this is to ensure the birth mother’s comfort, which you should always try to keep at the front of your mind.
When you are feeling nervous about the meeting, remember that you and the birth mother are there for the same reason: you both share a love for a child and a desire to give that child the best possible life. Let her see that love, and she will fall in love with you, too. Remember, one of the main goals of a meeting is to help the mother feel confident and reassured in her decision. She wants to get to know the person who is going to raise her child, so relax and let her see the real you.
When you have been matched with a birth mother, a pre-placement visit is a huge landmark on your journey, and one that you will remember for the rest of your life. You want to prepare as much as possible, but don’t forget to take a deep breath and simply enjoy meeting the person who is helping you expand your family!