You have decided to lovingly place your baby for adoption. You have viewed the adoptive parent profiles your agency has and you think you have found a wonderful family to raise your baby. But before you can feel completely confident moving forward with the adoption process, you’ll want to get to know the prospective adoptive parents you’ve chosen.
Meeting prospective adoptive parents is an important step in the adoption process. You may feel both excited and anxious to be meeting with the family who will potentially raise your baby. Having mixed emotions about the meeting is completely normal and you can be sure that the prospective adoptive parents are also experiencing a whole host of emotions during this time.
You may be feeling overwhelmed with the notion of meeting your child’s prospective adoptive parents for the first time. Take a deep breath. Here are some tips you can use to help you prepare for and during your first meeting.
Choosing a Location
If you are meeting prospective adoptive parents in person after viewing adoptive parent profiles, try to choose a place that’s comfortable for all of you. Meeting at the adoption agency or in a lawyer’s office might feel intimidating. Likewise, meeting in either your home or the prospective adoptive parents’ home probably won’t be comfortable for one party.
Meeting in a park, cafe, or quiet restaurant may be a better choice for an in-person meeting. These places provide a neutral space for everyone.
If you are having a meeting over the phone, choose a place where you feel comfortable and safe talking. If possible, choose a place where you can talk on the phone without being interrupted.
You may feel anxious about meeting the prospective adoptive parents and this is perfectly natural. You may be meeting the family you’ll choose to raise your child. It’s an important meeting.
However, it is important to try to relax and remain calm. Know that the prospective adoptive parents are likely as nervous about meeting you as you are about meeting them.
If you are feeling anxious before the meeting, there are several things you can do to calm down and put yourself in the right frame of mind.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- Give yourself positive affirmations. Instead of thinking, “I’m so nervous!” try telling yourself, “I’m so excited to be meeting these prospective adoptive parents!” Tell yourself, “I’m looking forward to meeting the prospective adoptive parents,” “This meeting is a wonderful opportunity,” and, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to be meeting the family whom I may choose to place my child with.”
- Listen to some music. Listen to whatever you find soothing.
- Have some chamomile tea.
- Take a short walk before your meeting.
- Visualize yourself in a serene place.
- Spritz your favorite perfume on.
- Light a scented candle.
- Gently massage your neck and shoulders.
- Squeeze a stress ball.
- Remind yourself that it is okay to feel nervous and that the prospective adoptive parents are likely just as nervous as you are.
Starting the meeting off with a few icebreaker questions can help everyone feel more at ease. Icebreaker questions are a fun way to get a conversation flowing before you talk about deeper issues. I’ve noticed that talking about pets is a great icebreaker, so if you or the prospective adoptive parents have pets, you can start the conversation by sharing a cute or funny story about your pet.
Try to find out a few things the prospective adoptive parents like to determine if you share any interests you can discuss. For instance, if you all like reading, you can talk about your favorite books. You may be able to gather some information about the prospective adoptive parents’ interests and hobbies from the adoption parent profiles you viewed. You could also ask your adoption counselor if they know any of the prospective adoptive parents’ interests.
Here are some icebreaker questions you can use to get your conversation started.
- What is your favorite personal possession and why?
- What was your most memorable vacation?
- If you were a color, which one would you be and why?
- What superpower would you most like to have and why?
- What’s something on your bucket list?
- What are you currently reading?
- What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Prepare Yourself for the Meeting
There’s no doubt that you’ll have numerous questions for prospective adoptive parents. It’s a good idea to sit down and make a list of all the questions you would like to ask during the meeting. Making a list will help ensure that you don’t forget to ask something you feel is important. At the same time, know that this meeting won’t be your only chance to ask questions of the prospective adoptive parents, so don’t worry if you forget to ask something.
Before the meeting, take some time to think about what is important to you when thinking about how you’d like your child to be raised. Is it important to you that your child be raised with your religious beliefs? Is it important that your child learn about your culture? Do you want your child to have a high-quality education? Take some time to write down what you want for your child and decide how important each thing is to your child’s upbringing.
For instance, perhaps you feel strongly that your child learns about their culture with their adoptive family, but less strongly about religious beliefs the prospective adoptive parents will instill in your child.
Make a list of questions you want to ask the prospective adoptive parents during your meeting. Not only will you want to ask questions about how your baby will be raised, but you’ll also want to ask questions about the potential adoptive couple or family to get to know them better as people, more so than you can from their adoptive parent profiles. Getting to know the potential adoptive couple or family as people will help you determine if they are a good match to raise your baby.
Questions you can ask to get to know a prospective adoptive couple or family better include:
- How would you describe your personalities?
- How did you meet?
- How would you describe your relationship?
- What qualities do you most admire about one another?
- What are your relationships like with your extended family members?
- What are some of your favorite family traditions? How do you celebrate holidays?
- What do you do for work?
- Do you currently have any other children? Do you think my child will have siblings in the future?
- What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
After spending some time getting to know the prospective adoptive couple or family better, you will want to ask some questions about how they plan to raise your baby. Some of the questions you may want to ask during the meeting include:
- What are your neighborhood community and school system like?
- What are your values and beliefs? Are you religious? How do you plan to share your values and beliefs with my child?
- How important is education in your home? What type of education do you plan to provide my child? Do you plan to homeschool or send my child to public or private school?
- What are your plans for childcare?
- How did you know you wanted to become parents? Why did you choose adoption?
- What do you think your parenting style will be like?
- What does your daily routine look like? How much time and energy will you have to give to my child?
- What do you think makes a good parent?
- How will you react if my baby has special needs? Are you willing and prepared to care for a special needs child?
- How will your extended family be involved in my child’s life?
- Where do you see your family in the next five years?
If you aren’t sure whether a question is appropriate to ask, you can talk with your adoption specialist about it before the meeting. He or she will be able to give you some guidance about what questions are appropriate to ask.
Talking About Yourself
As much as you want to get to know the prospective adoptive parents, they will also want to get to know you. You might want to begin by sharing a few fun facts about yourself, such as what you enjoy doing for fun.
I know it’s awkward meeting such potentially important people for the first time but try to be yourself. The prospective adoptive parents need to know who you are. Be honest with them about your situation. If you have used alcohol or drugs during your pregnancy, be upfront about it. Many prospective adoptive parents will still want to adopt your baby and many of them are well-educated about the struggles your baby might face. It’s also important to be upfront about any special needs you know your baby will have.
If the prospective adoptive parents ask you a question you are not comfortable answering yet, remember that you have the right not to talk about anything you aren’t ready to. Just tell the prospective adoptive parents that you aren’t comfortable sharing about that topic yet. If they ask a question you don’t know the answer to, you can tell them that you aren’t sure of the answer and that you’ll think about it and get back to them later.
Talk About Your Involvement After Placement
If you want an open adoption, ask the prospective adoptive parents how they feel about open adoption, which may or may not be listed in their adoptive parent profiles. If they are agreeable to an open adoption, then it is vital that you have a frank conversation with them about your involvement in your child’s life after placement. Good communication, openness, and boundary-setting are essential to having a quality relationship with the prospective adoptive parents and your child during their upbringing.
An open adoption allows you to maintain a relationship with the adoptive parents and your child directly, but a birth parent’s involvement in their child’s life varies greatly depending on what the birth and adoptive parents agree on.
The prospective adoptive parents may be open to sending you letters and photos. They may be open to talking with you on the phone regularly to provide updates about your child. Some prospective adoptive parents may be open to having you visit with them and your child on special occasions as well. Whatever you decide, make sure that everyone is clear about what your involvement will be after placement occurs.
It’s also important to discuss how the prospective adoptive parents will tell your child about their adoption. Ask how they plan to talk to your child about their adoption and how they plan to talk about you.
Topics to Avoid
While you want to be open and honest with the prospective adoptive parents, there are a couple of topics you should avoid discussing.
First, don’t ask personal questions about a prospective adoptive parents’ infertility. Infertility is a very personal and emotional subject for many people. If the prospective adoptive parents tell you about their situation, that’s great but don’t press them to talk about it.
Second, don’t discuss money with the prospective adoptive parents. When you decide to place your baby for adoption, many of the expenses associated with your pregnancy will be covered. There may be assistance for covering medical bills, food, rent, and maternity clothes. It’s best to discuss finances with your adoption specialist. They will be able to help you get any assistance you need.
Take Time to Think About It
No matter how good and confident you feel about the prospective adoptive parents, avoid making any commitments or promises at the meeting. Give yourself time to reflect on the meeting and everything that was discussed. Let the prospective adoptive parents know that you were glad to meet them and appreciate their time and that you’ll let them know what you decide once you’ve had time to think about everything that was discussed.
Meeting prospective adoptive parents after viewing adoptive parent profiles is an incredibly important step in the adoption process. Use these tips to help you have a productive first meeting with prospective adoptive parents.