Meeting A Birthmother for the First Time

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At last, the day finally arrives when you have been asked to meet a woman or couple who says she/they would like to place their baby with you. Frequently this triggers a new level of anxiety and excitement for those in waiting. We have heard our clients say they spent three or four hours deciding what to wear! Our advice is to wear what is comfortable. If you are more relaxed in informal clothing, then that's what you should wear. On the other hand, if you are used to dresses and suits, go for it! Just remember, you don't want to intimidate the pregnant woman/couple who most often do not have the means to go out and buy new outfits for the occasion.

Now that you are dressed, where are you going to meet? Common sense should dictate this. Meeting midway between where both parties reside usually works out well. However, if the pregnant woman/couple does not have transportation, then you might find yourselves doing more of the traveling. Good places to meet include parks (avoid during six foot snowstorms!), restaurants during off hours, your agency or attorney's office if available, or, on occasion, at your home or the home of the pregnant woman/couple. Your agency or attorney can also help you decide on different meeting options, as well as give you suggestions on what to talk about! It is also helpful to bring pictures of yourselves, your extended family and vacation pictures. There is no better way to break the ice than by pouring over photographs. You might also ask the pregnant woman/couple if they have pictures to share.

You've made it through the meeting, and everyone has agreed to work together on an adoption plan. Now what? It is helpful to establish how frequent the contact will be until and after the birth of the baby. Some pregnant women like the prospective adopting mother to accompany them to all doctor's visits; other women opt for having all communication transpire through the agency or attorney. If you are involved in an open adoption, you might want to purchase a photo album and along with the pregnant woman/couple, start documenting your adoption story. Video cameras can be put to good use during this time, especially if your pregnant woman/couple live in another part of the country. You might want to take videos of your home, local park, your extended family and of yourselves and mail it to her/them.

The baby is born. Now the emotions go into high gear! Head to your local florist and send flowers to your birthmother. It will be appreciated. Better yet, if are near-by, hand deliver them. Depending upon the situation, you might or might not find yourselves in the hospital, beginning your new roles as parents. If you are in the hospital, it is critically important to rely upon your birthmother as to the role you are to play. It is not uncommon for the birthmother to have rooming-in with the baby. Sometimes she will opt to feed, diaper and continually hold the baby; other times she will want you to do all of the parenting. Equally important, if you detect problems or concerns, address them directly to the birthmother. If additional help is required, it is advisable to call the birthmother's counselor or the attorney or agency involved in the placement. If the baby is born in a state other than yours, you will now find yourselves traveling and waiting in a strange state for permission to return home. This can be a very trying time. Most often you will have the baby at legal risk, directly from the hospital. Depending on the state you find yourselves in, it may take anywhere from 3 days to a month before the birthparents can terminate their rights to the baby. After this is done, Interstate Compact, assuming they have the proper paperwork, can grant permission for you to return home .While you are waiting, TRUST, perseverance and the telephone linking you to friendly voices, come in handy! This is also a time when it is critically important that you adhere to the needs of both yourselves and the birthparents. Some birthparents will not want contact with you once they leave the hospital. Others will want to hear from you on a daily basis to be reassured the baby is doing well. And on occasion, a birthparent might want to visit with you and the baby a number of times before you return home. Again, it is important to discuss this prior to the baby's being born. It is also helpful to remember that while 2 or 3 weeks in a strange environment with a new baby can seem like a lifetime, it is a small price to pay for a life-long experience of being a parent! Additionally, if you know ahead of time that you will be traveling, call the local Chamber of Commerce and ask them for suggestions of inexpensive and friendly places to stay that accept children! Many of our clients have found Bed and Breakfasts to be the next best thing to home!

It is now time for the difficult good-byes. Discussion on how this is going to be done is best spoken about prior to the birth of the child. Recently we had a birthmother who wrote a transfer ceremony that was performed in the hospital chapel. Other folks have opted for a "Receiving Dinner" where the baby is handed by the birthmother/parents to the adopting couple/single. If the adoption is less open, then the transfer is often handled by the attorney or agency.

At a recent weekend meeting, we had a birthmother speak about her experience. She was wearing a beautiful necklace that she explained represented the baby, herself and the adopting mother. The necklace portrays the love they both feel towards the child and each other. The adopting mom had an identical necklace. (There was not a dry eye in the audience!) It is important to remember that no one can ever be loved too much and this holds so true in the adoption experience. Adoption is a lifelong process for all parties and should be remembered as such! Compassion, respect and, love need to be a part of every adoption plan!

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Credits: Dawn Smith-Pliner

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