Your First Birth Parent Meeting.
Consider for a moment the last time you were a stranger somewhere. What did it feel like? What did you do? What made it better? Worse? How did others help? As a stranger
- We generally feel nervous or anxious.
- There is an uncertainty and a suspicion of others and of ourselves to navigate the experience successfully.
- We are completely dependent on others. Will they tell me where to sit? When will I know it is my turn? What will they think of me?
- Sometimes there is an irrational desire to please the others to be included or fit in?
- Sometimes we take matters into our own hands and create a way to fit in by agreeing or doing what we think will make us one of them.
- Makes us feel vulnerable, unprotected, mistrusting and afraid.
Now think of a time when you were a stranger and you felt welcomed. What was that experience like? How did it make you feel about yourself? How did it make you feel about the others? When welcomed
- We feel less fear and anxiety.
- We can breathe. We feel safe and feel more at home to be ourselves.
- While we still may need to depend on others, our dependency is cloaked in trust.
- Our suspicion is replaced with hope.
- If we feel the attitude of goodwill, we will feel welcomed.
Knowing this and understanding the way you may feel and the way the birth parents may feel, think about what you can do to make this meeting more welcoming?
In truly welcoming another, we generally take the “I” “me” and “them” out to the equation and replace it with “you” “us” and “we”. It’s not that the other person matters more, it is simply that the matter as much. This is extremely important to the relationship you can have with this birth parent. The roles each of you will play will shift and change as your adoption journey moves forward. There will be times when you may feel powerless. There may be times when you feel the birth parent holds all of the cards. Then something changes and the power you have may seem larger than life. It may now be the birthparent who feels small and helpless. During these shifts, if you establish a relationship which genuinely welcomes each other; that respects each other and honors each other, you will be able to trust in each other as people and rise above the challenges to forge a relationship that is sustainable. With a welcoming heart and an attitude of goodwill, stranger will be strangers no more and no matter the outcome, a child will be in a forever family that understood the meaning of kindness and goodwill.
Our adoption specialists and some of our adoptive parent have put together a few general tips for your first meeting. Consider these as you prepare for your meeting.
- You don’t want to intimidate the birth family, so dress neat and casual.
- Encourage them to get to know you by bringing photos of your family, pets, vacation, neighborhood or anything else you feel will help get you both better acquainted.
- Everyone will be a little nervous. Acknowledge this and try to just be as relaxed as possible.
- Everyone will have questions. It is better to ask questions in a relaxed informal manner rather than using a formal interview style. Use open ended questions such as “what” “how” or “ tell me more about …” without sounding like a talk show host!
- Remember not everyone is a great conversationalist. The meeting may seem clumsy or stiff at first but keep working on breaking the ice—remember everyone is a little uncomfortable.
- Often the confines of an office or meeting with your workers present can inhibit genuine conversation. Do not hesitate to suggest going to visit in the park or getting a bite to eat together. This will ease the tension.
Commonly Asked Questions From the Adoptive Parent to the Birth Parents.
In preparing for the visit you will have many questions. It is important to organize them and understand you may not get all of your answers at the first meeting. Below are some questions you may consider for this first meeting.
- What did you like about our profile or DVD to consider us?
- Is there anything we can clarify or explain from the profile or DVD?
- How are you feeling?
- What brought you to consider adoption?
- Why did you choose an open adoption?
- How much did you know about open adoption before you came to CYFS?
- How does your extended family or friends feel about your plans?
- Is this your first child? If not, how old are your other children? What are they like?
- What is your nationality?
- What hobbies or interests do you have? Are there any special talents or abilities you would like us to help this child develop?
- Tell me more about how you picture our adoption to look as the child grows up? What kind of contact would you like?
- If this is a trans racial or multicultural adoption, do you have any suggestions as to what we can do to keep the child in touch with his/her race/culture?
- Would you like to exchange phone numbers or email addresses?
- Would you like to meet again? If so, what would be the best way to set that up?
Suggestions For Additional Conversation.
- We want to you know more about our family so we brought some more current photos.
- It is important to us that you feel comfortable with us so, what other information would you like to know about us that might help?
- Thank the birth mother (parent) for considering adoption and for considering you. Let her know while you are wildly excited about the opportunity to become adoptive parents, you understand this is a big step for her. Reinforce that you will do whatever you can to help her feel confident in her decision AND if she decides adoption is not that plan for her and her child, you will respect her decision to raise her child as well.
- Your adoption specialist will be giving you information on your specific situation. You will be prompted to ask or avoid questions that would not be appropriate to your specific situation.
To learn more about your first visit, ask your adoption specialist for the CYFS FACE TO FACE booklet. This booklet will help you organize your thoughts and begin to create a relationship based on respect and trust.