Have you posted your adoption profile online? Are you waiting for a prospective birthmother to call? Do you know what to say to her when she does?
If you don’t, you’re not alone.
Starting a conversation with someone who calls you out of the blue is never easy. But when that someone happens to be the one person in the world who can make your adoption dream come true, it’s even extra nerve-wracking.
Luckily there are things you can say and do to make the most of the experience and take your relationship with a prospective birthmother to the next level.
Knowing when a prospective birthmother will call is anyone’s guess. It could be tomorrow, it could be next week, or it could be next month. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend every minute of the day checking your phone for messages or take a deep breath every time it rings.
There are ways to prepare yourself. Getting a dedicated toll-free number is one way. Jotting down questions and topics to talk about is another. And finally, role playing with your partner or a friend is another way to put your best foot forward and reduce the number of surprises that could come up during your conversation.
Speaking to a prospective birthmother for the first time can be challenging. With so much on the line, the last thing you want to do is say the wrong thing or do something that would turn her off. But keep in mind that you’re not the only one with butterflies in her stomach.
The person calling you, if she is serious about her adoption plan, will also be nervous. She also wants to make a good first impression. And while it may seem like she holds all the cards at this stage of your relationship, make no mistake about it: she will want you to like her as much as you will want her to like you.
There aren’t a lot of things you’ll know about a prospective birthmother the first time she contacts you. But you will know this: she’s going through a crisis. Like every prospective birthmother, she’s calling you because she needs help. She’s looking for answers. And she’s hoping you’ll listen to her and provide her with solutions.
Be that listening ear. Chances are, she’ll have a lot on her mind. You may be the first or only person she feels she can talk to. Make her feel comfortable by listening to her with an open mind. Not only will it take the weight off her shoulder and get your relationship off the ground. It will also allow you to assess whether you have things in common and are a good match.
If there’s one thing you should avoid during your first conversation with a prospective birthmother, it’s this: judging her. Going through an unplanned pregnancy can trigger all kinds of negative feelings such as guilt, frustration and anger. Some women are so afraid of being rejected or judged that they’ll keep the news from the baby’s father and their family.
So if a prospective birthmother shares the story of her unplanned pregnancy with you, make a point of treating her with kindness and compassion. Although you may not understand or agree with all of the choices she’s made, resist the urge to judge or lecture her. It’s not only counterproductive, it’s unfair. Instead, acknowlege the tough bind she’s in and give her space and support through your words and actions.
Stumped about what to say? Worried you’ll blurt out the wrong thing and mess everything up? Earlier, I mentioned the importance of writing out questions and talking points beforehand. Taking notes can also help you in other ways during your conversation.
Keeping a record of what was said can prove handy down the road, particularly if you’re too nervous to remember everything. And it can also be useful for spotting gaps, holes and contradictions in the prospective birthmother’s story if you have start having doubts about her sincerity or about details that she may have shared with you in earlier conversations.
Get her number
If your conversation with a prospective birthmother goes well, the one thing you don’t want to do is lose contact with her. So before you get off the phone, make sure you get her number.
Just because she says she’ll call you back doesn’t mean she will. She may have the best of intentions, but you don’t want to get lost in the mix. She’s got a lot of others things on her mind and may be be dealing with more than one adoptive family. So be safe rather than sorry and don’t get off the phone until you get her number.
Bring in your adoption professionals
Talking to a woman with an adoption plan is exciting. But remember, it’s just a conversation. You still have a long way to go. I hate to rain on your parade but there’s nothing that says she’ll go through with her adoption plan or that she has one at all. Enlisting the assistance of your professional can help you move your relationship forward and identify possible clouds on the horizon.
And it will allow the prospective birthmother to get much needed counselling so that she can explore her options and make an informed decision. Plus, it will give you the peace of mind you need before you dive deeper — emotionally as well as financially — into your relationship with her.
There’s nothing more exciting than speaking to a prospective birthmother by phone after she has seen your online parent profile. But that first conversation be can also stressful and difficult to navigate if you’re not prepared. By taking these steps — jotting down questions and talking points beforehand, listening closely to what she has to say, refraining from passing judgement, taking notes and calling in your adoption professional — you can take control of the situation and move confidently to the next chapter in your relationship.
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