When an expectant parent reaches out, here are four things NOT to say.
“I know this great couple . . . “
When I was pregnant, this was a piece of “advice” that I cringed at—and people knew I was planning on adoption! What if I wasn’t making an adoption plan? How horrifying for someone to imply that they knew better than me. Then, to add salt to the wound, assume that they knew who would be more appropriate to raise my child than I did.
In my situation, people knew I was planning on placing my son. I officially chose adoption around four months and officially chose the couple when I was almost five months along. For a full month, I was bombarded with profiles from the agency. Literally, hundreds of couples looked at me through the screen asking if they could parent my child. Then my friends all knew of someone. My fellow church members. My coworkers. Even my boss. It was an endless list of hopeful adoptive couples, and I was terrified of making the wrong decision.
My advice? Unless you are asked if you know of someone hoping to adopt—pretend you don’t. The options are there for the expectant parent, the pressure is there, and being the one to deny a couple a child is heartbreaking.
“You should __________________________ (fill in the blank).”
Advice is a tough one. If someone is relying on you enough to confide his or her deepest worries about their child to you, it’s natural to want to be more than a sounding board and tell them what they should or should not do. Unfortunately, the advice might come across as unsolicited. Unless you’ve been asked for advice, keep your comments supportive and loving. Do that, and if it comes time for advice to be given, it will be most likely be much better received.
“I’m not supportive of that choice.”
When it comes down to it, the choice lies 100% with the expectant parents. Being supportive is the most important thing you can be when an expectant parent reaches out to you. It’s how you earn trust, it’s how you learn to sympathize, it’s how you become a confidant for someone you care about.
“This won’t hurt a bit!”
I recently had someone considering adoption reach out to me, at the recommendation of a mutual friend. I love adoption, and I’m a full supporter of adoption, but I am a bigger supporter of making an educated decision. Sometimes adoption isn’t the answer. I found myself painting what I thought was an honest picture of the pain that birth mothers experience. Even after six years, it can feel fresh to me. However, the beauty behind who my son is becoming, the awe of what a wonderful brother and son he is . . . it’s amazing. Adoption is its own yin and yang, black and white, heartbreak and healing. I let her know the truth, and I hope that I didn’t “scare her away” from the option. But if she chooses adoption, she will have a better idea of what to expect.
So, men and women who have experienced an unexpected pregnancy, what would you add to the list? Those of you that have had an expectant parent reach out to you, what has worked when talking with them about their situations?