Sunday, December 4, 2011

The First Meeting - Questions Adoptive Parents May Ask a Birth Mother

The first meeting between a birth mother (or birth parents) and potential adoptive parents can be daunting for everyone involved. To cut down on the level of stress and to help both parties get to know each other better, it's a good idea to exchange some very basic information.

As a birth mother, you definitely don't want to talk about the weather or the latest movies. After all, you're there for a reason - to find the right adoptive parents for your child. If the adoptive parents are asking you questions, it's just because they - like you - are trying to get to know you and understand if the situation is right for them. Remember, everyone at the table is probably very nervous. Take a deep breath, take your time and try to provide as much information as possible. And remember ... you are allowed to ask questions too.

Questions Adoptive Parents May Ask a Birth Mother

About the Birth Mother:
  • What is your name and address?
  • What is your date of birth?
  • What is a phone number where you may be reached?
  • Tell us your situation.
  • Why are you considering adoption?
  • Are you currently married?

The reason why adoptive parents need contact information is so that both parties can keep the lines of communication open. The adoption process requires open communication in order to be sure you are taking care of yourself and getting the best care for your baby. You may want the adoptive couple to go with you to doctor visits or help you get back and forth to your lawyer. It's always best to supply adoptive parents with as much information about yourself as possible.

About the Birth Father:
  • Who is the birth father?
  • Where does the birth father live?
  • What is the birth father's age and date of birth?
  • Does the birth father know about the pregnancy?
  • Does the birth father agree to the adoption?

Birth fathers have a right to know they are parents. If the birth father is known, every attempt should be made to obtain his consent to the adoption. In Virginia, men who think they have fathered a child can register on the Putative Father Registry so they will be notified in the case of adoption or termination of parental rights. Of course, registration does not prove paternity - birth fathers will still be required to undergo paternity testing to prove they are the biological father of the child.

About your pregnancy:
  • How do you know you are pregnant?
  • Have you had any previous pregnancies or do you have children now?
  • Have you seen a doctor? If so, do you know your due date?
  • Do you have medical insurance?
  • How are you feeling?
  • Are you having any complications?
  • Are you on prenatal vitamins?

Taking care of yourself and your baby are the most important things you can do right now. If you have not already, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor (preferably an OB/GYN) who can help guide you through prenatal care and who will be your health care partner through the delivery. You may also find connections to other resources, such as counseling to help you weather the emotions that you may be feeling right now. If you are not under the care of a doctor, you can ask your adoptive parents to help find one for you. If you do not currently have medical insurance, you may qualify for Medicaid to help pay for your health care needs. In the state of Virginia, adoptive parents are allowed to help out with medical expenses - most of the time, that means taking care of copays and driving you to your doctor visit, if you need a ride.

About your support system:
  • Does your family know about your choice for adoption? For example, what does your mother think? Is she supportive?
  • Do you have a good support system through family or friends?
  • Would you like to speak with our adoption lawyer?

You are not alone on this journey. There are countless resources available to you, if you are willing to look for them. Friends and family can offer emotional support. Counseling is never a bad idea to help you understand the feelings you are going through and to help you know that the choice you are making is the right one for you. You may want to read What to Expect When You're Expecting to understand the changes your body is going through or sign up for a week-by-week pregnancy calendar online. As for a lawyer, you will need a lawyer to represent you if you are involved in a private or independent adoption. Your lawyer will make sure that your rights and needs are represented. Have compassion for yourself and make sure you are taking care of you.

About your choice to adopt:
  • What are you looking for in an adoption plan?
  • What led you to us?

There are so many different types of adoption available today. The best part is that you get to decide what type of adoption you want for your child. Do you want the adoptive parents to be in the delivery room with you? Do you want the adoptive parents to take physical custody of your child directly from the hospital? What kind of contact do you want after the adoption? Letters and photos? An occasional phone call? You define the terms. You decide what's best for you and your child. 

Remember, the adoptive parents aren't pushing you into a corner by asking questions that probably seem very invasive. Instead, they are just trying to gather the facts needed to ensure the adoption is right for everyone involved - you, the birth father, the adoptive parents, and your child.

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