5 Things to Remember When Talking to a Birth Mother
Talking with the birth mother of your potential child is a nerve-wracking experience for all parties involved. Adoptive families often wait patiently for the possibility of a match with a prospective birth mother, and the first conversation can be especially terrifying. Is there a possibility that the connection won’t be there? Will she still choose your family if the conversation doesn’t go well?
It helps to remember that a birth mother is a real person. She harbors hopes and dreams for her unborn baby, as well as concerns about what the future may look like when she isn’t able to raise the baby herself. Emotions are running high on all sides of the adoption triad, and this conversation prompts sweaty hands and racing hearts for everyone involved.
Meeting a stranger can be uncomfortable for many people, but meeting a birth mother for the first time prompts even more fear. Fortunately, there are plenty of topics that could be discussed to help put everyone more at ease in a sometimes-awkward situation. Keep in mind a few of these reminders for how to talk to a birth mother to keep your conversation flowing easily.
She had to make a decision to choose your family.
In most cases, the birth mother selects the potential adoptive family for her child with different criteria in mind. While one may love the idea of a white picket fence in an elaborately decorated front yard, another may cherish the large family and numerous siblings in a chaotic and humble home. Her personality really comes through when she is flipping through photobooks and information on families who could potentially raise her child. She had to make the decision to choose your family, so it may make sense to politely ask her why she selected you.
What did she see in your information that prompted her to feel you would be the best fit for her baby? Perhaps she saw some family similarities or maybe she found just the opposite. Whatever the reason, it’s sometimes nice to remember that a decision has already been discussed and is being formed by the time this conversation takes place.
Just because she chose your family doesn’t mean she has no more questions.
A photobook or brief biography on your family doesn’t always cover all of the questions that a birth mother may have. It may seem silly to you, but she might crave details about your neighborhood, what the nursery looks like, or what you prefer to eat for breakfast. You can feel free to share more information than what you were able to in your initial documents. Be sure to give her the ability to ask questions:
• Is there anything else you want to know about us that we haven’t shared?
• Would you like to know anything else about us that would make you feel more comfortable in your decision?
• Are there any details about our daily lives that you’re curious about?
There are a thousand ways to phrase the question, but giving the birth mother the opportunity to learn more about you is a great way to put everyone at ease.
It’s okay to have questions about her too.
You will likely want some details about your child’s birth mother to share with them in the future. The smallest details may seem trivial right now, but your child likely won’t think so as they grow older. Knowing what her favorite color is, where she grew up, the things she likes to do in her spare time, and her favorite foods are all great details to share with children.
Not only are those details fun facts for in a memory book or a future conversation, but they allow you to get a better sense of who the birth mother really is. You will be able to cherish all of these facts about her, and everyone can leave the conversation feeling more comfortable about the humanity of each member.
Talk about the child, both present and future.
Most pregnant women have a few complaints here and there, and a birth mother is no different. In fact, she has even more going on than most pregnant women with the added emotional strain of knowing she is placing her child for adoption in a few short months. Be sure to take time to ask her how she is feeling at this exact moment. You can inquire what supports she has in place to help her cope with the loss of the child, how she likes her doctors, and how she feels physically.
Asking about the present can also give you an opportunity to inquire about the future. Just because a birth mother made a very difficult and brave decision to give her baby life with another family doesn’t mean she stopped having hopes and dreams for them. Ask her what she envisions the child’s life looking like in ten years, twenty years, or fifty years into the future. Does she hope to maintain a relationship or connection with them throughout the years? Is she dreaming of a child who plays soccer or goes to college or becomes an electrician?
Knowing what she is hoping for her child may give you some tangible ways you can honor the birth mother in the child’s life as they grow up.
Remember that everyone is nervous.
Don’t forget that she is likely just as nervous as you are when it comes to having a first, second, or even a third conversation about the future of her baby. Have some grace for one another by remembering that this is a difficult situation for all parties involved. She may be struggling emotionally as well as physically and financially in order to choose life for her baby.
Let her know that you understand she may be hurting. Let her know that you are also excited to be parents. Finding ways to gently tell her that you are looking forward to parenting and raising this baby can help to put her heart and mind at ease. Be kind in your conversations with a birth mother, giving her plenty of opportunities to ask questions and take comfort in the fact that you will take excellent care of her precious baby.