So, someone has chosen you. It’s a match! Out of however many other hopeful families there are at this moment in this world, an expectant mother making an adoption plan has picked yours.
This is huge.
After perhaps months and months of tedious steps through the adoption journey, you’ve finally arrived at the tunnel. And there’s a light at the end of it.
Take a couple of deep breaths, and let your mind jump to the point in the now-definable future where the baby will be home with you. The real baby—with tiny hands, feet, a nose, a mouth, and a beating hear—will be sleeping peacefully in the next room while you happily hum a tune. You might even be folding little rompers still warm from the dryer.
Now back up.
Although that is the dream, it is not yet the reality. This next portion of the process is not one that can be skipped over, and it cannot be redone. Therefore, it is very, very important that you are fully and appropriately engaged in the events that will be taking place between now and the time your baby lies napping in that next room.
You’ve been picked for a potential match. Now it’s time to meet.
Where you meet will be a matter of negotiation and circumstance. If you’re going through an agency, they may make the arrangements. If you’re using an adoption attorney, the office might be a good place.
When choosing the venue for discussing the match, comfort for all parties should be the primary consideration. If a park or a restaurant feels right to everyone, fine. If you need to travel to another city, perhaps your hotel will have a small meeting room or private area you can use. Maybe the expectant mother would rather you come to her home, or prefer that she come to yours. If everyone agrees, just about any place will do.
It might be good to avoid an overly public forum where people may feel unable to fully communicate or show emotion. Really public places also tend to have distractions that could make concentrating on the task at hand—getting to know each other—difficult.
And How Do You Prepare?
What the heck are you going to wear? Should you take anything with you? What will you say? Do you hug her? Shake hands? Cry?
That will all depend on you. More than anything, this person wants to meet you. Not some dolled up, styled, and presentably passable version of you, but you in the very real sense of you. If casual is you, go casual. If you’re big on hugs, hug. And if being in the same room with a woman who’s considering placing her baby with you brings tears to your eyes, by all means, cry.
If you would like, you can come to the meeting complete with visual aids. Photos albums, home movies, your dog, whatever. If you think bringing these with you will help to convey the real you, then feel free. She may not want to look at what you have, and that’s totally fine. But, if she does, you’ll be glad you schlepped it along.
Some Words of Caution
Try not to overwhelm the expectant mother. The circumstances are overwhelming enough without everyone going overboard. Of course, if you’re incredibly effusive by nature, be yourself.
No matter how congenial and enthusiastic you may be by nature, however, do not run up to the expectant mother and rub her belly, or focus in any way on the middle of her. This meeting is about the expectant parents and you, not about the baby who at this point is 100% hers and 0% yours.
Nerves Have Met Their Match
You will be nervous. You will not be alone in your nervousness. In fact, everyone might be so nervous that this first meeting turns out to be a bit of an ordeal with no one showing in the best light. That’s okay. As long as the atmosphere is caring, kind, and respectful, it won’t matter if you weren’t at your wittiest or if you had lipstick on your teeth.
As far as your nerves go, keep in mind that to get to the point of meeting this expectant mother, she already knows a lot about you. She must like what she’s seen and heard so far.
As far as her nerves go, remember that this meeting and the decision to place her baby with a match, may be breaking her heart. She could be experiencing any number and combination of emotions: She may be afraid, vulnerable, embarrassed, ashamed, angry, shy, alone, self-assured, confident, at peace, ready to carefully consider the sort of parents you are likely to be, etc. No matter what, she deserves nothing less than the greatest respect.
Also, the woman you are meeting is holding all the cards. The only way she will deal you a full house is if you show your hand—nothing up your sleeve. No cheating or bullying is allowed if she is going to place her invaluable baby with your family.
Where You Go from Here
Depending on the expectant mother’s wishes, the location, the length of time between the match and birth, and the developing relationship between all parties, where you go from here can range from pacing in your own living room until you get The Call, to hand-holding during OB/GYN appointments. And there are many degrees of involvement in between.
In some cases, the first meeting will be the only meeting, with all details from then on being handled through the professionals. Often phone and email contact become a regular routine, with both sides drawing comfort from the frequency of sharing information, photos, and the like. Sometimes the relationship between the hopeful adoptive parents and the expectant mom builds into a close friendship, so close a friendship that doctor’s appointments are shared events and birthing classes are taken together.
Once again, as in all aspects of this new experience of planning to adopt a child, everyone must be respectful and honest.
The expectant mom must not feel pressured into closeness or a match she’s not comfortable with. Likewise, the hopeful adoptive parents should not be forced to extend their boundaries beyond where they are at ease.
If since your first meeting you’ve all been doing a good job on the honest communication front, it should be a simple matter to establish the rules of your engagement. If there’s something you’d like to add to your routine, inquire respectfully if it could be taken under consideration.
Discussing the Delivery
It may be a good idea to discuss the delivery directly with the expectant parents, if it is appropriate in your circumstance. Although your adoption professional, if you have one, will share their ideas, it is the woman doing all the work here who gets to call the shots. The who, what, where, when, and how is up to her. Who contacts you when it happens, what is expected of you, where you are to go, when you are to be there, and how you are to behave are all things she deserves to decide.
Mental Health Preparation
Counseling for all involved is advisable. If your adoption is through an agency, it may be provided as part of agency’s process. However, even in a private adoption, professional help with the emotional issues involved in adoption is an important investment that should be made. Just as you want the expectant mother to have the best in prenatal medical care, pre-adoption mental health assistance is equally important.
Adoption preparedness counseling for you and your family can also be extremely helpful.
Laying the groundwork for a successful transition into parenthood, providing a safe environment in which to pose questions and voice doubts and worries, learning about parenting techniques, and establishing effective communication between family members can all serve you well in the years to come.
Do you feel there is a hole in your heart that can only be filled by a child? We’ve helped complete 32,000+ adoptions. We would love to help you through your adoption journey. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.