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Adoption: Meeting a Birthmother

Find tips on what questions to ask a birthmother.

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Adoption: Meeting a Birthmother

Some agencies or attorneys (or other adoption arrangers) think it's a good idea for a woman to meet the people who want to adopt her child. Some arrangers recommend a meeting on a first-name basis, whereas others favor full disclosure of both first and last names.

Some adoption experts don't like the idea of meetings occurring before consent is signed because they worry that it could interfere with the pregnant woman's decision—making her feel pressured into the adoption. They prefer that meetings occur after the birthmother makes up her mind about adoption, independently of knowing the couple. (Others say that the birthmother needs to meet the couple to know whether adoption is the right choice for her.)

The argument that the pregnant woman might be less likely to change her mind if she meets the couple is actually used as a selling point by some open adoption advocates, who tell adopters that the birthmother will then know them and won't want to hurt them. Open adoption is also sometimes used as a marketing tool to convince pregnant women that placing a child for adoption won't be that painful, which I find troubling. Even when she knows the family that will be adopting her baby and likes them very much, the adoption of her child is still a loss for nearly all birthmothers.

The most important point to keep in mind for you is that most people are filled with trepidation about meeting a birthmother, and this is normal. It doesn't necessarily mean that a meeting would be wrong for you. However, if everything in you screams “No!” don't allow yourself to be pressured into a meeting.

If you think it's stressful to meet the woman who might give you her child—you're right. It's also stressful for her. It's also okay to not meet, if that is your choice. However, this might limit the number of agencies for you to apply to, since many agencies like the idea of a meeting.

Adoption Alert

I've seen many people who are seeking to adopt become irrational, scared, and very unlike their normal selves when faced with the idea of meeting a real live birthmother. I call it ”Rapture of the Adoption.” It's similar to “rapture of the deep” in that the adopter has plunged to unknown depths far too fast to handle what's going on. This can also happen with no meeting; for example, if the arranger tells you about a child and says you have one day to decide.

If you reach this stage, you might feel out of control, silly, scared, overwhelmed, and excited. Keep your wits about you. Don't agree to adopt a child unless you have seriously considered the idea. Don't let Rapture of the Adoption overtake you.

Just as prospective adopters have concerns and/or fears about meeting birthmothers, pregnant women considering adoption are often frightened by the idea of meeting adoptive parents. It's always a good idea to consider the fears that a pregnant woman might have before meeting you, should you both choose to meet. Here are some examples:

  • They (the adopters) will be smarter than me, and I might say something stupid.
  • They'll think I'm too fat.
  • They'll think I'm a slut.
  • They'll think I'm a drug addict.
  • I'll probably hate them, and they'll hate me, too.
  • What if they're abusive?
  • I'm scared.

When you want a child so intensely, it might be very hard for you to understand how someone could not want a child. It can be far too easy to assume that anyone who doesn't want to parent a child must be unkind or cold. Give her a chance! She might be the mother of the child you parent.

Questions to Ask

Whether you choose to meet with the birthmother yourself or decide to leave all birthmother interactions to the adoption arranger, you'll probably still want to obtain answers to some of the following questions.

  • When is your baby due?
  • When did you start thinking about adoption?
  • Are you working with an agency or attorney? (If you've met her through your own advertising.)
  • Are you feeling all right?
  • How does the birthfather feel about the pregnancy? How does he feel about adoption?
  • How do your parents feel about the pregnancy?
  • How did you choose this agency/attorney/facilitator?
  • Do you have a plan for your life, after the baby is born, either jobwise or educationally?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • Have you known anybody who placed a baby for adoption? Do you know any adopted people?

Questions to Avoid

Following are some questions you should not ask the pregnant woman in your first meeting, because they might make her very uncomfortable. (After you read these questions, you'll probably understand why. They are very intrusive and negative, and not good first-encounter questions.) This doesn't mean you should never ask these questions, either directly or through an intermediary. Just don't ask them in your first meeting.

  • Are you sure you really want the baby adopted and you won't ever change your mind?
  • Have you taken any illegal drugs during your pregnancy?
  • Did the father refuse to marry you?
  • Were you raped?
  • How many times have you been pregnant?
  • How many men might be the father?
  • How many babies have you given up for adoption before now?

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