There’s only one thing better than sending out your parent profile to expectant parents considering adoption: It’s hearing back from them.
For hopeful adoptive parents, being contacted by an expectant mother considering adoption is a dream come true. But it can be nerve-wracking as well, especially if you’re unprepared.
Most hopeful adoptive parents sound great in their profile. But when it comes to actually talking to an expectant parent for the first time, they suddenly find themselves at a loss for words.
Make sure you don’t get caught flatfooted. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the experience and sound your best when an expectant mother contacts you.
A call from an expectant mother considering adoption could come at any time. Usually there’s no notice. You could be waiting months or even years when one day your cell phone rings, you pick it up, and suddenly there she is on the other end of the line. It often happens when you least expect it.
Let me rephrase that: it ALWAYS happens when you least expect it. I’ve had hopeful adoptive parents get contacted at all hours of the day and at the most surprising — and inconvenient — moments and places: in the shower (believe me, it happens more often than you think!), in the middle of an important meeting at work, even in the middle of the night. You can’t choose when the call comes in. So prepare yourself as best you can.
That doesn’t mean you can never take a shower again. Just be aware of what you’re up against. If you have questions for the expectant mother — and chances are, you will — jot them down and keep them close by, along with your cell phone. You may not need them, but it’s good to have them ready just in case.
Find a comfortable place to speak
It may be a while before you hear from an expectant mother considering adoption. But when the moment comes you don’t want to leave anything to chance. As part of your prep work, start thinking about places at home or at work where you can speak without being interrupted or distracted.
Speaking to an expectant mother considering adoption is stressful enough. Don’t put extra pressure on yourself by scrambling to find a quiet, private place to speak at the last minute. And if, for whatever reason the timing isn’t right for you, don’t be afraid to take down her number and call back when it is. You only get one chance to make an impression. Make the most of it and don’t let anything rattle you or get in your way.
Getting a call from an expectant parent can leave even the most talkative people tongue-tied. What do you say to the person who could hold the key to your future? Well, for starters, “thanks for calling.” Even though the call will throw you off balance, just be yourself. Don’t put on airs or to pretend to be someone you’re not. Remember, an expectant parent is contacting you for a reason — because she liked your adoption profile. There’s no need to impress her. You already have!
Come up with an icebreaker
The hardest part of any relationship is the first conversation. Once you get past this stage, things get easier. With that in mind, it’s probably a good idea to come up with some things to say that will break the ice and put you both at ease. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated. Just about any topic will do: the weather, something you did that day, how she’s feeling, or even about how excited you are to speak to her.
Scared you’re going to “blow it” by saying the wrong thing? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. It’s part and parcel of the process. Just about every hopeful parent in open adoption is convinced they’ll say or do something that will dash their hopes of ever becoming a parent. That’s why it makes sense to talk less and listen more, at least until your relationship reaches the next level. And you’d be surprised at how much you can find out about an expectant mother and her situation just by listening to her speak.
You may have plenty of people in your corner. Most expectant mothers, however, are alone and isolated. So if you’re feeling nervous, just imagine how they feel. When an expectant mother calls you, be compassionate and considerate. No matter what her circumstances may be, don’t judge her or talk down to her. Treat her with dignity and respect, the way you would any other pregnant woman.
Take the lead
Unlike you, most expectant parents considering adoption don’t know a lot about the process. They’re in a crisis situation and may be desperately looking for answers. They may not even know what adoption is. You could be the first person they’ve ever spoken to. So be prepared to explain how the process works and to put them in contact with professionals who can help them with their adoption plan.
Expectant parents considering adoption are looking for a family they can trust and answer their questions. Don’t disappoint them. Do what you can. But if you don’t know an answer, say so. If you’re not sure about something, don’t pretend you are. Be honest and sincere. If you’re not, it could come back to haunt you and throw a wrench into your adoption plan.
Avoid sensitive topics
Keep your initial conversations light and upbeat. Sure, you may have lots of questions and concerns about the expectant parents and their commitment to adoption. But this isn’t the time to raise them. Instead, keep the ball rolling.
If you have concerns about whether the expectant mother will change her mind or about the identity of the prospective birthfather, let your adoption worker handle them. Her job is to ask the hard questions. Yours is to keep the conversation going and get your relationship off the ground.
Get a contact number
Speaking to a expectant mother may be the most exciting conversation of your life. But remember, it’s just a conversation. And one conversation does not make a match. You still have a long way to go before the placement can be approved. If things sound promising, arrange a follow-up conversation.
Don’t take anything for granted. Before you hang up, get a number where you can contact her and the best time(s) to call. Chances are, if she feels as good about your initial conversation as you do, you won’t need to ask for it. She’ll have already given it to yourself.
Being contacted by an expectant mother is one of the greatest things that can happen to you in open adoption. But don’t make the mistake that many hopeful adoptive parents do and get caught off guard when the moment arrives. Keep a list of things to say nearby and find a quiet, private place to talk.
And be supportive. Don’t lecture her or grill her with tough questions. Expectant parents considering adoption have a long, hard path to go down before they place their children. Make it easy on them — and you — and maximize your chances of finding a match by being honest and helpful.
Have you been contacted by an expectant mother considering adoption? How did your initial conversation go? What was the hardest part of it and what advice do you have for others?