Private Domestic Adoption and Your Relationship with the Birth Mother

In cases of private domestic adoption, understanding the perspective of a woman who chooses adoption will help you build a relationship with her to the benefit of everyone involved, most importantly the child.

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In cases of private domestic adoption, where adoptive parents are adopting a domestic newborn baby, the birth mother (the baby’s biological mother), will be a part of this journey, too. Adoption changes a birth mother’s life forever. Her short time with her child affects her for the rest of her life. And the relationship you build with her during the adoption affects all of you.

Depending on whether the adoption is deemed ‘open’ or ‘closed,’ this relationship may continue years into the future. Many adoptions are open, meaning that there is voluntary communication between the adoptive family and the birth parent or parents, in the form of emails, photos, phone calls or visitations. These might be updates about the adopted child, birthday cards, or visitations, but the amount of contact can vary greatly and should be discussed early on in the adoption process to assure both parties are comfortable and in agreement.

A successful open adoption is based on the bond created with the birth mother during the placement process. Knowing this, meeting each other or speaking with each other on the phone for the first time can be very scary for you both. You might be wondering—what if we don’t click? What will she be looking for? What does she need from us?

Here are some things you should keep in mind when meeting your child’s birth mother for the first time:

  • Adoption is a choice made out of love. She loves her child, and by choosing adoption she is being a good mother and giving the child what she believes is the best chance at a good life.
  • Nobody wants to feel like they are being judged, especially not birth mothers. Try to show empathy.
  • She’s dealing with a crisis. Treat her like you would treat a family member or a close friend who was dealing with a similar situation.
  • Listen to her. If she has immediate concerns or needs, address those first. Your adoption professional will most likely ask her vital questions, like how her pregnancy is going, and whether she’s comfortable where she’s living.
  • She may be very curious about you, but afraid to ask personal questions. Encourage her questions, and try to stay as open and honest as possible.
  • Talk about where you were raised, how you were raised, your family’s history, and how you envision raising a child. This information will help her make her decision.

It’s possible you will be coming from very different life circumstances than the birth mother you are seeking to be matched with, so the conversation may feel awkward even when everyone is being genuine. Keep in mind she is probably just as nervous as you are.

If you don’t get chosen, don’t take it personally or be discouraged; birth mothers experience many conflicting desires and emotions during their pregnancy and the placement process. Try to be yourself, ask the right questions, and listen as much as possible, and eventually you will get matched with the right one.

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