How to talk with a birthmother

Posted on 13. Dec, 2011 by in Archives, Birthmothers, Domestic Adoption

In most private domestic adoptions, a birthmother chooses the adoptive parents for her baby.  Before a placement can happen, she connects with the adoptive parents, establishing a match.  

This usually begins with a phone call – one that makes everyone involved a little nervous.  Talking to a birthmother can be one of the more stressful things you do on your adoption journey.  

What if she thinks you don’t sound friendly enough?  What if you unintentionally come across the wrong way?  What if you ask questions that offend her?  Will you connect enough to make a match? 

The anxiety is normal because these conversations are not something you do every day.  You can find information to help you talk to birthmothers, but you may still find yourself stumbling through the call.  

Your adoption professional can help.  

If your adoption professional is helping you search for a birthmother, they can (and should) provide screening.  This means they will talk to a birthmother before you do, which can help in several ways:  

1. Birthmother counsel and support.  Adoption professionals know that providing counseling and support for birthmothers is essential.  It will help them make the best decision for their child.  Adoption may not always be the right option, so she needs someone there to help her work through it.  

2. Experience to avoid scams.  Your adoption professional should be experienced in talking with birthmothers.  They know how to determine if there is potential for an adoption scam or if there is a possible match.  If you are doing your own screening it can be more difficult to sniff out scams.  See this article about how to avoid adoption scams

Once you have found a birthmother (or she has found you), then you’re ready to talk to her over the phone.  Here are some tips on how to talk to her – especially for the first time.

The first phone call is to find out more about each other.  As nervous as you will be, the birthmother will be just as nervous.  After all, she is trying to find adoptive parents for her child so naturally she wants to find the best couple. 

Try to remember that this isn’t a business venture but a simple conversation – so what is most important is to find a way to genuinely meet.  Make sure to tell her how excited you are to talk with her.

Be concerned about her and try to talk to her like a friend. Don’t ask her too many questions at once – let her take the lead with what she wants to talk about.  Most importantly, you need to listen to her.  Here’s a great article about 5 tips on listening to birthparents

Your adoption professional will likely have given you some information about the birthmother before you get to talk with her.  You can use that knowledge as a jumping off point.

Here are some questions to ask:

–How are you feeling?

–Where do you live?

–Do you have other children?

–What are your hopes and dreams for your child?

–Have you found a doctor?  Do you like him/her?

–Ask her about the people in her life.  Does she have family or friends she can talk to about what’s going on?

–Be open and inviting for her to ask you questions.  What would you like to know about us?

–What type of contact are you hoping for after the adoption?

–What is your due date?

–Would you like to talk again – or meet in person (if possible)?

Nothing can fully prepare you for that first conversation with a birthmother.  Just remember that every day there are people that make it through that first call.  You can too.  Listen, love, and be genuine.

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