So, someone has chosen you. Out of however many other hopeful families there are at this moment in this world, a pregnant woman making an adoption plan has picked yours.
This is huge.
After possibly months and months of often difficult step-by-step on 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, then let your mind jump to the point in the now-definable future where the baby, the real baby … tiny hands, feet, nose, and mouth with a beating heart … is home with you, sleeping peacefully in the next room while you happily hum a tune and fold little rompers still warm from the dryer.
Now back up.
Although that is the dream, it is not yet the reality, and this reality is not one that can be skipped over. It’s very, very important that you are fully and appropriately engaged in the moments that will be taking place between now and the time the baby is napping in that next room.
You’ve been picked. 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.
In deciding on the venue, 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 will be good to avoid too public a forum where people may feel inhibited about communicating or showing emotion, or where too many distractions could make concentrating on the task at hand, getting to know each other, difficult.
So, 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. If being in the same room with a woman who’s considering placing her baby with you brings tears to your eyes, cry.
(No matter how congenial and enthusiastic you may be by nature, however, do not run up 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.)
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. If she doesn’t want to look at what you have, fine, but if she does you’ll be glad you schlepped it along.
Try not to overwhelm. The circumstances are overwhelming enough without everyone going overboard. Of course, if you’re incredibly effusive by nature, be yourself.
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 making a choice this woman already knows a lot about you, and she must have liked what she has seen if you’ve come this far.
As far as her nerves go, remember that this meeting is not one she would have, in a million years, ever chosen to attend. She may be afraid, vulnerable, embarrassed, ashamed, angry, shy, and alone. On the other hand, she could also be self-assured, confident, and ready to carefully consider the sort of parents you are likely to be. What she will not be is deserving of anything less than the greatest respect.
Although the woman you are meeting may be nervous and vulnerable, she 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.
Where you go from here
Depending on the expectant mother’s wishes, location, the length of time between matching 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 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 becomes 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 presently growing in another person, everyone must be respectful and honest.
The expectant mom must not feel pressured into a closeness she’s not comfortable with, and the hopeful adoptive parents should not be forced to extend their boundaries beyond where they are at ease.
If from 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.
If it is appropriate in your circumstance, it may be a good idea to discuss the BIG EVENT directly with the expectant parents. Although your adoption professional, if you have one, will share their ideas on who, what, where, when, and how (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) it is the woman doing all the work here who gets to call the shots.
Counseling for all involved is advisable, and if your adoption is through an agency it maybe provided as part of the process. Even in private adoption, however, professional help with the emotional issues involved in adoption is an important investment that should be made. Just as you want the woman carrying the child 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.