How Do I Find A Birthmother?

Melissa Anneke - Retouch“How do I find a birthmother?” hopeful adoptive parents will ask.

“Do you mean a prospective birthmother?” I’ll say.

I don’t mean to  be difficult. I just want to want to make sure we’re talking about the same thing.

“Yeah, you know, a person who’s giving her baby up for adoption.”

“In that case, you do mean a prospective birthmother.”

Birthmother. Prospective birthmother.

They sound similar. And yet they’re world’s apart.

Before you try “to find a birthmother”

As a prospective adoptive parent, one of the many benefits of open adoption is that you have a hands-on role in reducing your wait time.

The faster you can connect with a woman with an adoption plan, the faster you can adopt.

But before you can make that connection, you need to know who you’re looking for. And what to call her.

Referring to a woman with an adoption plan as a “birthmother” isn’t just inaccurate. It could add months or even years to your wait time.

That’s because a birthmother is someone who has placed a baby for adoption.

You, however, are looking for someone else — a woman who has an unplanned pregnancy (or is already parenting) and is thinking of placing her child for adoption.

So make sure that your outreach campaign — and your mindset — reflects that.

If all of your networking and advertising efforts revolve around the word “birthmother” you could find yourself spinning your wheels for a long time.

Know who she is

The thing is, most women with an adoption plan don’t have the slightest idea what a “birthmother” is.

It’s not until they go through the process and sign the relinquishment papers that they learn what it means.

The person you’re trying to reach, however, is in the early stages of the process and may decide not to go through to the end.

So if you want to reach her, you need to speak her language and use the terms she’s familiar with.

Plus, don’t make any assumptions about her or why she’s considering adoption.

As someone who is  anxious to adopt and wants to be a parent more than anything else in the world it may be hard for you to understand why another women may not want to.

Give her a break. Don’t automatically assume that all women with an adoption plans  are heartless or uncaring or drug addicts or promiscuous.

As you’ll find, the truth is a lot more complicated. And many of the stereotypes about prospective birthmothers are just that — stereotypes.

Know what she’s looking for

It would be nice to be able to say that a prospective birthmother is looking for these specific one or two of three things. But that’s not how it works.

Each prospective birthmother is different, with a different set of wants and needs.

The wish list varies from person to person.

One prospective birthmother may be looking for a couple who has been married for a long time. For another, their religious beliefs may be the big draw. Or where they live. Or how they live. Or their family size.

And the list goes on. One size doesn’t fit all.

An easier way to approach the issue is to list what a woman with an adoption plan is not looking for.

She’s not looking for adoptive parents who are pushy. Or who talk down to her. Or sound desperate or have a sense of entitlement.

She’s looking for people she can trust and who can help her out of her dilemma.

Speak her language

So how do you determine what she’s looking for?

One way is to try to see things from her perspective and understand what she’s going through and what’s important to her.

If you run into a brick wall, you can always read stories by women have have already placed. And you don’t have to look too hard to find them.

You can find them on our site, here, here and here.

Or through our birthmother blogs.

Or on our discussions on Facebook and Twitter.

Reading their stories will give you insights into what was important for them. And that could help you when you reach out and try to create your own connection.

Going online, of course, is the only way to find a woman with an adoption plan. Word of mouth works, too, as do classified ads, pass along cards, or hiring an adoption consultant.

It all depends on what your comfort level is and what networking tools are allowable in your state.

Be the solution

In your profile, describe yourself and your family and what you like to do for fun. But make sure that you tie everything back to the prospective birthmother’s wants and needs.

For instance, telling her about your infertility trials and tribulations  isn’t the most compelling message for someone who is in the midst of her own struggle.

Instead, focus on the things that she’s interested in, that matter to her. Explain why you would make a great parent for her baby and what sets you apart from  other waiting parents.

By the time a prospective birthmother finishes reading your profile, she should have a clear idea about who you are, what you have to offer, and what kind of involvement you want to have with her after the placement.

Focus on specifics rather than generalities. Doing this will build trust.

And illustrate your story with examples. This will help her visualize what you’ll be like as a potential parent.

Know where to find her

Prospective birthmothers are just like you and me — they’re everywhere. But that doesn’t mean they’re easy to find.

They don’t walk around holding up a sign that says, “Baby for adoption. Looking for adoptive parents”

Nor do they advertise their adoption plan publicly on places like their Facebook page.

Because of the stigma attached to adoption,  most prospective birthmothers will keep the news to themselves.

One place they will visit is the internet. It’s where they’ll look for information about adoption. And for potential parents for their baby.

As a result, it’s important to have a strong online presence.

Creating a website will put you on the map, digitally speaking. But that alone isn’t enough. You need to find ways to get noticed.

And that means driving traffic to your site via your social networks and/or advertising.

Finding a woman with an adoption plan isn’t easy but it can be done. The one thing you don’t want to do is create a campaign that relies on the term “birthmother” or to sit back and wait for your agency to do everything for you.

You need to go out and find her yourself. And creating a campaign with the right keywords and the right mindset is a good way to start.

What are you doing to find a prospective birthmother? What tips and techniques have worked for you? Leave your comment here or on our Facebook page.


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