But it’s more like a date.
You’ll want to like them. But you’ll also want them to like you.
And yet as with any date, there are things you can do to make your first meeting a success and build your relationship before an open adoption.
Meet at a familiar place
Your first meeting with the family you’ve chosen to adopt your baby is all about getting closer and feeling comfortable. After all, you still have a long road ahead of you. Where you meet will have a huge impact on whether your get-together will go smoothly or not.
Since the hopeful parents will likely be coming out to meet you, find a place that’s cozy and familiar. A quiet diner during off-hours is perfect. Or, if the weather’s nice, head out to a park. Finding a setting that has a personal connection or a story behind it will not only put you at ease. It could also be a great conversation starter.
You’ll have a lot on your mind that day. What if we don’t hit it off? What if I say the wrong thing? What if we run into someone I know? Do yourself a favor: arrive early. Give yourself enough time to get yourself settled and feel relaxed.
Even though you know where you’re going and how to get there, the unexpected can always happen. After all the worrying and planning you’ve done, the last thing you want is to show up late and be thrown off your game because of something that came up along the way.
Wear comfortable clothes
What do you wear to a meeting with the people who could one day become the parents of your child? It’s a good question and as far as I know no wardrobe guru has taken it on. So you’re pretty much on your own.
Since this will be your first face-to-face meeting, you’ll want to pick something that’s comfortable and shows you at your best. You don’t have to go out and buy something new to impress them. As long as you look good, you’ll feel good.
Bring someone along with you for support
There will likely be two of them and just one of you, so if you’re looking for a way to calm your nerves and balance things out bring someone with you. If you’re still with your baby’s father, bring him.
If he’s not in the picture, take a friend or family member. Or your adoption worker. The benefit of bringing your worker is she can ask questions that you may feel uncomfortable asking yourself and give you her two cents on how things went at the end.
Normalize the conversation
Your first meeting with the adoptive parents may be like a date, but not a blind date. Chances are you’ll already know something about them through their profile or your previous conversations.
So whether it’s a favorite TV show or a shared interest in scrapbooking, zero in on the things you’ve already bonded over. Or ask them about their trip in. (If they arrived by plane, they’re sure to have a good flying story). In other words, normalize the conversation. It shouldn’t be only about the baby. If it is, that’s a bad sign.
Bring a photo album
The first few minutes of your meeting will be awkward and strange. But once you get through it, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the time goes.
I already talked about one ice breaker. Here’s another: a photo album. If you have one, bring it along. Do you know anyone who doesn’t like looking at old family photos? See, I told you.
This may seem obivous, but it’s a lot harder to do than you think. You’ll be trying so hard to make a good impression on the adoptive parents and not screw up that you may tune out and miss something important.
Listening actively means taking an interest in what they have to say. It mean showing curiousity through eye contact and head nodding. The more actively you listen to them, the easier it will be build a bond.
Pay attention to their body language as well as their words
Meeting the hopeful adoptive parents in person will help you learn things about them that you can’t pick up from a phone call or email.
Everything from their body language (how they interact with each other as well as with you) and the way they speak (the level of excitement and emotion in their voice) will tell you something about them. Keep your eyes and ears open.
Depending on what stage of your preganancy you’re at or how well you know the adoptive parents, you’ll likely still have a lot of answered questions. Whatever you’ve been meaning to ask, ask it now.
Meeting face-to-face with the people who could be your child’s future parents will take your relationship to a whole new level. Before you do that, you’ll want to make sure that there are no loose ends and that you’re both on the same page.
Don’t be intimidated
Getting together with the adoptive parents for the first time can be an intimidating experience. After all, one of the reasons you may have chosen them is because you see them as a version of yourself, only better.
They may have the stable marriage or career or lifestyle that you long for but don’t have at this time. But don’t let that get in the way. Make no mistake: They know you can still change your mind. They want this meeting to be a success just as much as you do.
I mentioned this a few times already but it can’t hurt to mention it again: Be yourself. If you decide to go through with your open adoption plan and place your baby with the adoptive parents, they will become part of your family.
Hopefully you’ll have a relationship with them for the rest of your child’s life. So don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. It will only come back to haunt you. Use the meeting as an opportunity to check them out and see if you’re meant for each other.
Keep it short
Your first meeting doesn’t have to be long. In fact, it’s better if it isn’t. An hour will be more than enough time to find out what you need to know. Even within the first few mintues you’ll learn a lot.
If the meeting is going well, you can always extend it. But there’s nothing worse than setting aside a huge chunk of time only to discover that you have nothing in common and then trying to find ways to fill it.
Set up your next conversation
The purpose of your first meeting with the adoptive parents is to get to know each other better. It’s not a discussion about your hospital plan or about working out the nuts and bolts about how much contact to have after your relationship.
You can discuss those topics another time. For now, focus your attention on keeping the momentum going and reassuring them that all is well by setting up your next conversation.
Meeting the people you’ve chosen to be your baby’s adoptive parents can be nerve-wracking. But with the right approach and attitude, there are ways to make the most of your first meeting and keep the process moving forward.
What was your first meeting with your child’s adoptive parents like? What tips do you have for expectant mothers? Share your comments in the section below or on our Facebook page.