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After the Connection: Working with an Expectant Mother, Part Two

After The Connection Part Two

In my last article, I discussed some ways you can prepare yourself emotionally for the first meeting with an expectant mom considering adoption. This article will focus on practical issues you’ll want to think about and be prepared to discuss at the actual meeting. It is important to remember that although this is just an initial meeting, the expectations you have (as well as those of the of expectant parents) will help to determine the viability of a match should an adoption occur. In other words, if you and the expectant parents have vastly different expectations of what your relationship will look like after relinquishment, this may not be a good match.

Be true to your feelings.

I’ve discussed this before, but in a “match meeting” this is particularly important. It may be tempting to agree to anything the expectant parent wants in the future because you want to be parents so badly. But don’t promise more of anything than you will be comfortable providing. It’s better to promise less and give more than it is to promise the world and not be able to deliver.

Leave room in your hearts and minds for expansion of the relationship.

This will be completely up to you, of course, and may not be applicable if you crave a deep relationship right away. I have a friend who just relinquished her daughter within this past year and her daughter’s adoptive parents have her over to their house at least weekly. You may never get to a point where you have that sort of relationship. However, it’s important to a growing relationship that you have open hearts and minds to the possibility of a deeper relationship.

Have a clear vision.

Sit down and think individually. Then come together and discuss how you see the relationship with the child’s mother beginning and where you’d like it to go. This is not something you’ll necessarily discuss with the expectant parent. But it will be important for you to know this information.

Be flexible.

There can be no real relationship if you enter the first meeting with a list of things you will not do. Nor can there be a real relationship if you don’t have clear boundaries that you’d like to establish. But there has to be some flexibility as well.

Ask the expectant parent(s) the right questions.

You may want to come up with a list of things that are important for you to ask the expectant parent(s). Hopefully she (or they, if the biological father is involved) will have some questions for you as well so there can be an interchange. I would suggest asking the expectant parent questions about the level of contact she would like before delving into your ideas for contact before and after the birth. This will say to her that you value her input and are willing to compromise if necessary to make the relationship work.

How will you connect on an ongoing basis?

Will you write update letters? Have visits? Make phone calls? Write emails? Will you connect on Facebook or create a blog specifically for the biological family? Will you do a combination of those things? With the prevalence of technology it has become much easier to stay connected. Please remember that you are cultivating a relationship to last a lifetime. My daughter’s parents and I talk because we want to talk and have visits, not because we feel obligated to do so.

Do you want to be involved in the delivery?

Make certain that if you would like to do so that you talk to the expectant mother about this possibility. It may not be something with which she’s comfortable and she may also change her mind on the date of the actual delivery. But if it’s something you desire and you don’t say anything then you will most likely regret it.

Ask the mother about her desired level of contact while she is in the hospital.

Please be aware that if she stays firm in her decision to relinquish that these moments will be the last moments when she is that child’s sole parent. If she doesn’t sway in her decision to relinquish but asks you not to be around, this is not a reflection on you. She is simply treasuring the time she has with her child.

Do you want the expectant parent involved in the naming of the child or will you ask her to help you name the baby?

Some expectant parents will not name their baby or want to name their baby because of the solidity of their decision to place. I didn’t name my daughter because I thought I wouldn’t see her again for at least 18 years and I didn’t want to have an additional bond severed with her. However, some expectant parents would really like to be included in the collaboration on a name. If you already have a name picked out that has special meaning to you, consider asking the expectant parent to help you pick out a name for the child to go with the name you’ve already selected. It will be your accepted legal right to change the name of the child should the adoption actually happen. But if you have included the child’s biological family in name selection and then ignore everything you’ve discussed that may be a future point of contention.

Do you want to have an entrustment ceremony of some type?

An increasing amount of open adoption relationships now seem to officially begin with an entrustment ceremony. This is done after the child is born and legal documents have been signed. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, and this is not a legal ceremony. Some people draw up “contracts” of sorts that talk about their commitment to the relationship and read them to each other. Others do that and read special poems or sing songs. There can even be a clergy person there to officiate if the people involved would like that to happen. I’ve talked to birth mothers that have had this experience. They’ve said that not only does an entrustment ceremony help them start to adjust to their new role in their child’s life, but it cements their commitment to making the relationship work.

Final Thoughts

I know that you feel you have a lot riding on this one meeting, and in truth, you do. But remember that the expectant parent(s) will feel the same anxiety and pressure and it will help all involved if you have some discussion ideas.