Meeting a birthmother is perhaps one of the most stressful points in the adoption process. It can be a delicate situation in which you may be at a loss for what to say or how to act. While you are thrilled and excited about a new baby, it’s hard to know what she may be thinking or feeling. In open adoption, you are also making a lifelong connection with her as well as the baby, so it may feel as though there is an enormous pressure to start the relationship off on the right note.
At the same time, meeting a birthmother can be extremely positive. With the right approach, this meeting can set the stage for a mutually beneficial bond. Even if you don’t necessarily hit it off, it’s a learning experience that can help you in the future.
There are a few suggestions that can help make meeting a birthmother less nerve-wracking and more rewarding.
The Human Connection
One of the main goals is to make a connection. It may seem difficult because you are in seemingly different situations, but remember that in some respects, you are going through this process together. Be mindful that she may have a lot of her own questions and concerns, so don’t bombard her with your own right from the beginning. If possible, keep the conversation light and avoid anything too personal. You can ask questions about her interests and hobbies, or about the pregnancy. Be respectful and attentive. If at any point she seems to be getting uncomfortable, change the subject.
Always be honest and open when meeting a birthmother. You are trying to build a sense of trust, so first impressions are critical. Feel free to bring photos that reflect your life and your interests. Your home, your family, your best memories – anything that projects stability and happiness. Remember that you want to demonstrate the kind of life you can provide for the baby. Anything that can reaffirm your good intentions will make a positive impact and may help to solidify that human connection.
Trust the Experts
It is significantly easier to have a positive first meeting with a birthmother before the baby is born. Talk to your adoption professional not only about making this happen, but about their insight into making it a success. They have the experience and prior knowledge of the birthmother to offer the best advice. Adoption professionals are there to guide you and the birthmother through this entire process, so take advantage of their support. They may even be able to accompany you to the meeting if you prefer.
Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect
Try not to stress if things go wrong. Again, remember that you are both human. As nervous as you are, she probably feels the same. Maybe you need another meeting, or maybe it’s not a good fit. It may be clear that she doesn’t like you, or vice versa. There is something to be learned no matter how the meeting plays out. Open adoption is an intricate process and finding the perfect match can take time. Whatever the outcome, try to reflect on the experience as you move forward.