There is so much out of etiquette and forethought that needs to go into communicating with an expectant mom. Adoption is not a normal situation. It is normal in the fact that it is commonplace in our world, however, it can feel incredibly uncomfortable to speak with someone about essentially taking over parenting rights and accepting placement of their child. While we all know that it is placing a child and the intricacies of adoption, it does not make it any more comfortable.
In addition to even thinking about how to speak with an expectant mom, we as adoptive parents have to figure out in the beginning how to find an expectant mom. How do you even approach that situation? Luckily for many prospective adoptive parents, they are matched by an adoption professional. However, if you are self-matching, that may involve advertising that you are adopting or speaking with expectant mom whom you believe will be placing their child for adoption. If you have not been through this, can you imagine how awkward that might be? It does not feel normal or appropriate to speak with someone about placing their child with you. However, self-matching is sometimes the only option for some adoptive parents.
When determining the best course of action in regards to finding and talking with an expectant mom, you will need to be aware of the circumstances surrounding your adoption situation. You may find that your adoption professional will be incredibly helpful in both of these areas. If you are self-matching, you will need to be aware of the laws in your state regarding advertising and certain communication that is allowed with expectant parents. You will also need to be aware of laws regarding the exchange of finances and what is allowed to be promised. There is a lot to be said for treading lightly in these situations and it is best to be aware of what will keep your adoption journey both legal and ethical.
Many prospective adoptive parents will be able to gain assistance with finding an expectant mother by way of their adoption professional. It is highly advisable to work with an adoption professional and is legally necessary in almost all cases of adoption. Your adoption professional should be able to lead you through the process that they will take in order to match you with an expectant mother. Many times, you will create a profile book or online profile that your adoption professional or adoption agency will share with expectant mothers with whom they are working. Just as you work with an adoption agency, some expectant mothers will reach out to an adoption professional to place their child for adoption. These mothers will then have the opportunity to look through profile books or online profiles in order to choose a family with whom to place their child.
One great beginning tip for finding an expectant mother is to research online profiles and profile books to find out what they typically look like and what you should include. It is also great to ask the advice of other adoptive parents or those on an online adoption group who have been through this process before. You also may ask your adoption professional to show you some examples of adoption books or adoption profiles that will allow you to have a sort of template to begin your own. These profiles can include things such as pictures of your family all the way to information about how you might discipline or your religious beliefs. Your adoption professional should be able to lead you in regards to what you should and should not include in your profile.
If you are self-matching in your adoption journey, you may have to be creative in the ways that you reach out to find an expectant mother. The first step in finding an expectant mother will be to find out if advertising for adoption is illegal in your state. In some states, there is no advertising for adoption allowed due to many ethical and legal reasons. However, some states do allow advertising with certain rules and regulations. If you are working with an adoption professional, you can certainly reach out to them to find out what the guidelines are for your state and see if they can have some examples for you of advertising within your state and community.
Some people choose to make profiles online such as those found at Adoption.com. Other people use social media to create an adoption page that will allow people to message them if they are an expectant parent or would like to put them in touch with an expectant mother. Other people may even use social media as a way to spread the word that they are adopting to their friends and family. Many prospective adoptive parents have found an expectant mother via word-of-mouth. In my own adoption journeys, my mother told our children’s birth mother that we would adopt when she found out their birth mother was planning on placing her child for adoption. You may spread the word via social media or through your own communities. You may find that somebody knows someone who knows someone who is looking for someone with whom to place their child for adoption. Word of mouth is a great way to spread the word that you are adopting without breaking the guidelines of advertisement within your state.
In your search to find an expectant mother, it is important to remember that unfortunately, as with anything good, there will also be bad that might come with it. You can expect that if you create an online profile, you will likely be contacted by those people who are simply trying to scam you for birth parent expenses. This is, unfortunately, one of the downsides of the adoption journey. It is important to know the signs of expectant parent scams and the red flags to look for before you search for an expectant mother. There are many adoption groups that you can join online to report possible scams or to search for information on a scam. As long as you know what to expect, you will set yourself up for a more protected adoption journey. However, you may find yourself sucked into a scam even when you have done your research.
There are many wonderful expectant mothers who are simply trying to do the best for their child. However, there are people who try to take advantage of a system that can sometimes be quite broken and flawed. Know what to look for and always be cautious when communicating with a potential expectant mother. Always refer an expectant mother to your adoption agency or adoption professional after you have had a general conversation. Do not share any contact information. Let everything work through your adoption professional or adoption agency. This is also why it is so important to work with ethical adoption professionals who have both the best interest of the expectant mother and the prospective adoptive parents in mind.
When it comes to communicating with an expectant mom, it is best not to place pressure on her at all. In fact, it is best to get to know one another and let the expectant mom take the lead in the conversation. Don’t stay quiet and act shy, but use it as an opportunity to first build a friendship and let the expectant mother know that you care about her and not just about the result of the possible adoption. The expectant mother will likely be coming to you from a very vulnerable place and time in her life. Applying pressure will only make things worse. It is totally normal to be excited about adopting a child, but you have to keep in mind that this expectant mother has the right to choose to parent her child, all the way up until her termination of parental rights, if she so chooses. This child is not yours until you have officially adopted them into your family. Until that point, this is her child and her child only.
Understand that most expectant mothers come to placement from a place of love for their child. It is not what they want necessarily, but what they feel compelled to do as the best option for them and their child. Keep in perspective that this expectant mother is not simply a vessel, but a person with very real emotions and feelings. All of your communication with her should come from a place of compassion and understanding. Do not promise things that you do not mean and do not try to oversell yourself for the sake of the adoption. You need to be real and upfront.
In the name of being real and upfront, make sure that you go into your communication with the expectant mom with firm ideas and expectations. Do not lay this heavy information on in the beginning, but quickly communicate what you hope the adoption will look like for you, the child, and the expectant mother. If you are open to an open adoption, mention that early on and communicate what that looks like for you. If you are not willing to do an open adoption, make that known early on as well. It is best to have open and honest communication with the expectant mother. It is only ethical to let her know where you are coming from and what you expect or what you are willing to commit to in the long run.
There are multiple reasons why it is important to have the support of a wonderful adoption agency or other adoption professional. One of these reasons is to have someone who can be an advocate and a guide as you speak with any expectant mother. You will need to know the ins-and-outs of speaking with an expectant mother and what the guidelines are for this process. There will be things that you can say and cannot say. There will be things that you will be advised to promise and not to promise. There are many rules regarding finances and birth parent expenses. The expectant mother may ask for a certain amount of financial assistance or more finances above and beyond what has been discussed during her pregnancy. You may feel compelled to provide gifts or travel above and beyond the discussed scenarios. All of this will have to go through your adoption professional. They will both be able to advise you on how to approach these situations or any communication from the expectant mother. You can have friendly conversation outside of your adoption professional, however, you will need to make sure to relay anything of importance to your adoptive professional in order to protect you, the child, and the expectant mother.
Connecting with an expectant mother may sound like a scary and overwhelming situation. However, the key is to go into this journey prepared. Seek counsel from your adoption professional and from those who have adopted before you. Spend time to prepare your profile and your expectations before speaking with any expectant mother. Keep in mind that she is not yet a birth mother, but an expectant mother. She has the right to change her mind and should not be pressured otherwise. Your goal is to build a relationship from a beginning place of trust with any expectant mother you speak with. Building this relationship will help you to learn more about the expectant mother and also be the catapult through which you can build a relationship moving forward, especially in an open adoption situation. The relationship that you have with your child’s birth parents and any positivity that surrounds that relationship will mean the world to your child as they grow. This relationship will be one of the most important relationships you have as you move forward in your adoption journey with your child.
Lita Jordan is a master of all things “home.” A work-from-home, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five. She has a BA in Youth Ministry from Spring Arbor University. She is married to the “other Michael Jordan” and lives on coffee and its unrealistic promises of productivity. Lita enjoys playing guitar and long trips to Target. Follow her on www.facebook.com/halfemptymom/.