Expectant parents considering placing their child for adoption will no doubt have numerous questions, not only about the adoption process, itself, but for the potential adoption families as well. Asking prospective adoptive parents a number of questions will help you decide which adoptive family is ultimately best to place your child with.
The first phone call between expectant parents and potential adoption families may feel intimidating for everyone involved. Many expectant and adoptive parents compare their first phone call or in-person meeting to a first date—it may feel awkward, uncomfortable, and exciting, all at the same time. It is perfectly natural to feel all of these emotions.
It may help you to brainstorm some questions and write them down before your phone call or in-person meeting. That way, you won’t need to think of your questions on the spot, and you are less likely to forget to ask about things that are of special importance to you.
Here are some questions you may want to consider asking prospective adoptive parents during your first phone call or in-person meeting.
These questions will help you get to know prospective adoptive parents better.
How would you describe your personalities? What do you see as your strongest and weakest personality traits?
Learning about the prospective adoptive parents’ personalities, in general, may give you some information on how they might parent your child. For instance, prospective adoptive parents that describe themselves as patient may be slow to anger, which is a good quality to have as a parent.
Knowing what someone thinks their weakest personality trait is can be just as helpful as knowing what someone thinks their strengths are. For example, if a prospective adoptive parent says they have a temper, you can follow-up with a few questions about it. You can ask how the prospective adoptive parent handles anger and what he or she doing to work on it. Remember that nobody is perfect. Being able to admit your flaws is a sign of maturity.
How would you describe your relationship? What qualities do you admire in one another?
These questions will also give you valuable information. Prospective adoption families who communicate well with one another are likely to communicate well with a child, too. You’ll also learn about how each person views the other, which can provide you with some very valuable insight into each person’s personality and character.
Do you have any family traditions? Which ones are your favorites? Do you have close relationships with other members of your family?
You may hear some fun stories about family traditions and which ones they plan to pass down to your child. Each Thanksgiving, it was a tradition to put up our Christmas tree after we’d finished Thanksgiving dinner. My sister and I always received a new ornament each Thanksgiving to add to our collection and put on the tree. After we decorated the tree, we’d plug in the lights, drink eggnog, and admire the tree while listening to Christmas music. It was always a tradition we looked forward to. Now that my sister is grown and has her own children, she’s passed down the tradition of getting a new ornament for each of her children every year.
What are your interests and hobbies? What do you enjoy doing during your free time?
What do you do for work? Do you like your job?
You’ll learn about the prospective adoption families’ occupations and schedules. You may get a sense of how much time prospective adoptive parents have for your child. You can follow these questions up with questions about their plans for childcare. Will your child go to daycare during the day or will she or he have a babysitter or nanny?
Do you have any children? If not, do you think my child will have siblings in the future?
There are many benefits to placing a child in a family with siblings. Siblings can learn interpersonal skills from one another such as empathy and respect. Research shows that having a sibling, specifically a sister, can protect adolescents from feelings of guilt, self-consciousness, fear, and loneliness.
Siblings can become great friends. They are wonderful sources of emotional support throughout one’s entire life.
There are advantages to being an only child, too. Children can benefit from being an only child, specifically by getting undivided focus and attention from their parents. Only children may develop deeper relationships with themselves than those who have siblings. Only children often develop closer relationships with their parents as well.
Questions About Adoption Families’ Parenting
How did you decide you wanted to become an adoptive parent?
You may learn that the prospective adoptive parents can’t have children due to infertility or being a same-sex couple. You may learn that the prospective adoptive parents already have children and want to add to their family.
What is your parenting style like? What type of parents do you plan to be with my child?
Different people have different parenting styles. Some parents are more permissive; they have a more relaxed parenting style. Permissive parents are lenient. They don’t usually interfere unless there is a serious problem. They take on a friend role, more than a parent role.
Authoritarian parents are strict. They set rules and expect children to follow them without question. Children with authoritarian parents usually follow the rules as they grow up, but their self-esteem may suffer because their opinions don’t matter to their parents.
Authoritative parents set rules, but they also take their child’s opinions into account. If rules are broken, there are consequences for the behavior. Authoritative parents try to prevent behavior problems and use praise and reward systems to reinforce desirable behavior. Children who have authoritative parents are most likely to become responsible adults who have the confidence they need to express themselves.
Are you religious? What are your beliefs? How do you plan to share your beliefs with my child?
If the prospective adoptive parents have different religious beliefs than you do, consider whether it’s important to you for your child to learn about your beliefs. If it is, ask the prospective adoptive parents if they would be willing to teach your child about your beliefs as well as theirs.
How important is education in your home? What type of education do you plan on providing my child?
Getting a good education is beneficial in many personal and professional ways. Education allows someone to find and pursue their passion. Education also allows students to develop the skills necessary to be successful in the workplace. Group projects, for instance, teach students how to interact with their peers and work in a team. Writing assignments help students learn to communicate effectively. Oral presentations help students develop speaking and organizational skills.
How do you plan to talk to my child about adoption? How do you plan to talk about me?
Some adoptive parents may plan to be open about the adoption from the start while others may want to wait until the child is older to tell their child he or she was adopted.
What will my role be? How involved can I be in my child’s life? What do you want your relationship to be like with me after the adoption?
These are incredibly important questions to ask. You will need to discuss your involvement in your child’s life with the prospective adoptive parents. It is vital that you are all in agreement regarding how involved you will be in your child’s life. You and the prospective adoptive parents may agree that you will receive regular email updates and photos about your child but not have contact with the child. You could decide to have regular phone calls with the adoptive parents and adopted child. Perhaps the prospective adoptive parents would be open to you visiting your child occasionally.
Whatever you decide, be sure that everyone is clear on your role in the child’s life as well as how much contact you will have.
What is your relationship like with your extended family? What role will they play in my child’s life?
You can ascertain how significant family relationships are to prospective adoption families. You can also get an idea of how much involvement extended family will have in your child’s life with these questions. For instance, some people get together with their parents and siblings every Sunday for a family dinner. Others may only see their families at reunions and on holidays. Close relationships with extended family members may give your child more people to bond with as she or he grows up. Extended family members can also act as supportive, caring adults in your child’s life.
Questions to Avoid
There are many great questions you can ask prospective adoption families, but there are also topics and questions you’ll want to avoid bringing up at your first phone call or in-person meeting.
Questions about Infertility
Infertility is a very difficult and painful subject for many people to talk about. The prospective adoptive parents may have spent years trying to have a biological child of their own, and they may not be ready or comfortable discussing their experience. If the prospective adoptive parents bring up infertility themselves, be empathetic, and don’t ask prodding questions.
Questions about Finances
If you are receiving help with housing, medical bills, and living expenses during your pregnancy, your case manager will be handling the financial aspect for you. While it is important for you to know what you will be receiving, it’s not a good idea to bring up finances with prospective adoption families during a first phone call or meeting. It may come across that you are placing your baby for the wrong reasons.
Let your case manager handle the financial aspect of the process. Know that the prospective adoption families have been screened and should be able to provide your child with a financially stable home.
Opening Up About Yourself
As much as you want to get to know the prospective adoptive parents, they also want to get to know you. You can share your hobbies, personality traits, and goals with the prospective adoptive parents. They may be interested in hearing about your family as well.
Don’t be afraid to share your desires and goals for your child with the potential adoptive parents. If you’re comfortable, you may also want to share about your pregnancy, doctor’s appointments, and how you’re feeling about the adoption process.
You do not have to talk about anything you don’t want. If the prospective adoptive parents ask you a question you’re not comfortable answering, express that to them.
Tips for Your First Phone Call or Meeting with Adoption Families
It is perfectly natural for you to feel nervous and uncomfortable when it comes to talking to potential adoptive parents for the first time. Use the introductory questions as icebreakers. They are good questions to get the conversation going. When you feel a little more comfortable, you can begin to ask questions regarding the adoption.
It may be helpful to write down all the questions you want to ask potential adoptive parents ahead of time. It may also be helpful to write down some interesting or fun facts about yourself you can share during the meeting. It can be difficult to think on your feet when you’re nervous or uncomfortable. Writing your questions down can help ensure you don’t forget to ask something important.
Be sure not to rush the interview. Schedule the phone call or meeting for a time that allows you to take more time to talk to the potential adoptive parents than you think you’ll need.
Know that it is okay if you do not get a chance to ask all of your questions during your first conversation. You can take as much time as you need to get to know the potential adoptive family. If you do not get all the information you need in your first conversation, it is okay to have further conversations to get the information you need to make a decision.
Finally, don’t make any promises during your first meeting, even if you are certain that you want to place your child with the prospective adoptive family. Take time to think about everything before making a decision.
Considering adoption? Choose a family to adopt your child. Visit Parent Profiles on Adoption.com or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.
Sierra Koester is an award-winning freelance writer and professional blogger. She earned her BA in Psychology in 2004 and has worked with several nonprofit agencies. She began her writing career in 2006 and has written extensively in the areas of health, psychology, and pets. Sierra advocates for the adoption of children as well as homeless animals. When she isn’t writing, you can find Sierra with her nose in a book or hanging out with her two kitties, Carmine, a wise old orange tabby Sierra adopted when he was a kitten, and Tylan, a cat whom Sierra adopted after he was rescued from a hoarding situation in Thailand. You can learn more about Sierra by visiting http://www.sierrakoester.blogspot.com.