You have been communicating through e-mail and maybe over the phone with a specific birth mother, and now it's time for the face to face meeting. This is a tremendous opportunity for all of you, and something that is really worth looking forward to. There are many different ways that a face-to-face meeting can take place today. The social worker may or may not be present. It might be at the adoption agency, or it might be at a restaurant or other public place.
I know from personal experience how nervous you get walking in to meet the birth parent(s) that might place their baby with you, and lots of birth moms have told me that they are equally nervous to meet an adoptive couple. We all worry about whether we will be liked, or whether the other side will change their minds after meeting us. Here's the best advice I can offer to adoptive parents with a few B's. (There is another list of B's from a great man that I try to live by, but that's a story for another day.)
- Be Honest
- Be Open
- Be Yourself
- Be United
- Be sure to let the birth parent(s) talk!
- Be certain you bring a camera!
Don't try to be someone you're not. You need to be a good match for each other based on who you really are, not who you think they want you to be.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, many of these ideas come from a terrific social worker named Kevin Theriot. Where I say 'be united', he said, "Please don't argue with your spouse at the face to face meeting!" We all chuckled, but he told us that he has been floored by how often potential adoptive couples argue over little things in front of the birth parent(s) at this first meeting. Don't argue over what baby names you like, or whether or not you had agreed to adopt a child whose birth father used drugs, or whether or not to order dessert. (: Have all of the important discussions before you go in to the meeting, and leave the not so important ones for another time.
Ask the birth parent(s) and their mothers if they're present, questions about themselves. Answer the questions they ask you, but let them do most of the talking. It has been shown that the more someone talks to you, the closer they feel to you. Don't interrupt or cut them off. Let a birth mother talk all she wants. If she's hesitant to talk, that's where you ask questions that don't just have a yes or no answer.
I wish we would've brought a camera to the first face-to-face meeting with our daughter's birth mom. I know it seems like a no-brainer, but in the stress of trying to get there (especially if you're going out of town) you might forget. Thankfully, we have lots of wonderful pictures from the placement, and ongoing communication with lots of pictures now, but it would've been fun to have some pictures from that first day we met.
So, when you go in for a face-to-face meeting, follow these be's, as well as one more. Be sure to follow your heart. It will be an amazing experience.