Whether you’re a woman considering adoption for her baby or a hopeful parent waiting to adopt, finding a potential adoption opportunity is an exciting part of the process. But, before you can confidently move forward with a potential match, chances are you will want to get to know each other better.

This can be a little nerve-wracking; talking to an expectant mother or adoptive parent for the first time can sometimes be awkward or uncomfortable. Fortunately, your adoption specialist is always available at 1-800-ADOPTION to help you prepare for this first conversation.

In the meantime, we’ve also compiled some guidelines for what to say on that first phone call as you’re getting to know each other better.

Guidelines for Everyone:

  • Start with the basics. This call is all about getting to know each other, so start with some simple questions to help you break the ice. Make small talk; discuss your hobbies and interests and offer up some fun facts about yourself, and then ask the person (or people) on the other end of the line to do the same.
  • Avoid touchy subjects. Some topics are better discussed privately with your adoption professional. Don’t talk about money, for example, and avoid personal questions about the adoptive parents’ struggles with infertility or the expectant mother’s relationship with her baby’s father.
  • Don’t force it. If you’re not sure how to answer a question or if you ever feel put on the spot, it’s okay to say that you’re not sure, that you have to think about it or that you’ll get back to them. Remember that you don’t have to talk about any subjects you’re uncomfortable discussing.
  • Don’t overthink it. Try not to overanalyze what’s being said, and don’t sweat awkward moments — they might happen. After all, this is your first time talking with each other. If it seems appropriate, it’s even okay to mention how nervous you are; it’s something you both will have in common.
  • Get help. Most importantly, talk to your adoption specialist. He or she can help you prepare for this first call, provide some more background about the people you’ll be talking to and provide guidance and suggestions for what topics to address and which to avoid. He or she can also be present on the call to help mediate the conversation and keep it flowing smoothly.

Guidelines for Adoptive Parents:

  • Show your excitement. Let the prospective birth mother know how excited you are to have the opportunity to talk with her and how much you can’t wait to be parents. Prospective birth parents want to know that you are fully committed to adoption, so don’t be afraid to express that.
  • Be sensitive and don’t make assumptions. Hopefully, at this point in her adoption process, the expectant mother you’re talking to feels pretty confident in her adoption decision — but remember that it isn’t final until after the baby is born and she signs the legal consent paperwork. Use words like “considering adoption” instead of “choosing adoption,” and always refer to the baby as hers, not yours. Remember that at this point in her journey, she is an “expectant mother,” “prospective birth mother” or “woman considering adoption” — until her child has actually been placed with another family, she is not a “birth mother.”
  • Ask how she’s feeling. When in doubt, ask how her pregnancy has been going and how she’s feeling. Find out when her baby’s due or if she’s had any specific pregnancy cravings. Questions like these show that you care about her (not just the baby she’s carrying) and can help provide a transition from general small talk to more specific adoption questions.
  • Ask what she liked about your profile. Your profile obviously stood out to this expectant mother, and it can be great to get feedback as to why. If she liked your profile because she has something in common with you — for example, a shared passion or interest — it will help establish some common ground and give you something to talk about.
  • Ask what she wants to know about you. Choosing a family to adopt her baby is a huge decision for an expectant mother, and she will want to make sure the parents she chooses are the perfect fit for her child. Offer up information about your home and community, your interests and lifestyle, your extended family and more. The more information you’re willing to share with an expectant mother, the better idea she will have of whether or not you’re the right family for her baby.

Guidelines for Prospective Birth Parents:

  • Get to know them as a couple. Ask about their relationship, how they met and the qualities they love about each other. Ask them how they decided they wanted to become parents and what made them choose adoption. Questions like these will help give you a sense of what their relationship is like and what they would be like as parents to an adopted child.
  • Learn about their lifestyle. Ask about their values and parenting philosophy, and don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about the things that are important to you, like their religious beliefs, educational values or traditions that you hope they would share with your child. Get a sense of what a typical day is like in their home and what their extended family and community is like. All of this information will help paint a picture of the life these parents would provide to your child.
  • Ask about their experience with adoption. Hopeful adoptive parents don’t necessarily need to have past experiences with adoption, but some expectant mothers find it reassuring if a family knows someone else who adopted a child or was adopted themselves. If the family you’re talking to does know someone else who was touched by adoption, ask what they’ve learned from that relationship.
  • Talk about the future. Think ahead to life after placement. Find out what the adoptive parents would tell your child about their adoption story and about you. Ask what kind of relationship they would want with you after the adoption. Remember, as a woman considering adoption, it’s important to have all your questions answered.
  • Tell them about yourself. Remember, the adoptive parents are excited to get to know you, too! Share as much of your story as you’re comfortable with. Consider talking about your hobbies and interests, your personality, your family, your pregnancy and anything else you want the adoptive family to know.

If you’re nervous about an upcoming call with a prospective birth mother or adoptive parent, talk to your adoption specialist. She can help you come up with a list of appropriate topics of conversation and provide the support and preparation you need for this first call.

Just remember, as nervous as you may be for your first meeting with a potential birth or adoptive parent, this is an exciting opportunity for you. If all goes well, it could be the start to a lifelong relationship!