When you first talk to a birth mother, you may be nervous and anxious. So is the birth mother! So, take a deep breath, relax, and talk as you would to a new friend.
Adoption Expert, Founder of Lifetime Adoption, and adoptive mother Mardie Caldwell has these words of wisdom to share: “Be concerned about her and ask how she’s feeling. Ask her about her situation, not as a prospective parent but a caring person. Encourage her to share her fears and anxieties. The more you let her talk and the more you listen, the more comfortable you’ll feel. Let her talk at her own pace; you have plenty of time…Share info, adding a question here and there. Be prepared for her ask questions that may seem blunt, such as ‘Why didn’t you have your own children?’ ‘How old are you?’ or ‘Have you ever been divorced?’ Answer graciously. Don’t put your phone on speaker; it’s too impersonal. Also, don’t have your spouse on the extension phone listening in without the birth mother's knowledge.”
At Lifetime, we ask birth mothers to share about their first conversation with the potential adoptive couple. “They were very nice and all. But they didn’t seem excited. I want to talk to a family who’s excited!” some have shared. So, let your excitement show through in the phone call! If you are thrilled that she called, tell her. Share your feelings of excitement and joy with her.
Before you talk, it’s helpful to consider her thoughts and situation. Birth mothers have shared with Lifetime some of the fears about meeting or talking with potential adoptive parents. Some of her fears may include: they’ll be intelligent and I may say something really dumb; I smoke cigarettes and they’ll turn me down for that reason; they’ll think I’m overweight; they’ll think I’m on drugs. So, be open-minded; she might be the mother of your child!
How you phrase your questions is important. You don’t want to ask in such a way that it sounds like you are assuming the answer, such as “You don’t have a job, do you?” Asking like this implies the answer will be “no.” Once you ask her a question, give her time to respond; definitely don’t hurry her or answer for her. Here are some questions you might ask the birth mother:
- Where do you live?
- Do you go to school?
- Are you working?
- Do you have other children? How old are they?
- Are you staying home to take care of your other children?
- Does your family know you’re pregnant?
- Do you have others to support you throughout the pregnancy and the adoption? Do they visit you?
- Does your family know you’re considering adoption? Do they support your plans?
- How much contact do you want before the adoption and after?
- Would you like us to be with you at the hospital for the delivery?
At the same time, there are questions that you should never ask a birth mother at the first phone call, because they are inappropriate and might make her uncomfortable:
- Are you totally sure you’re doing adoption, and you won’t change your mind?
- Are you doing adoption because your baby’s father wouldn’t get married?
- Is this pregnancy the result of rape?
- Have you been taking any drugs during your pregnancy?
- How many pregnancies have you already had?
- Do you know who the father of your baby is?
If there’s something you’re wondering about the birth mother and her situation but you’re not sure if it’s OK to ask, check with your adoption professional first. There is a good chance that they have already asked her. If they haven’t, it is probably for the best that your adoption professional asks her the sensitive questions, and not you.
As your call comes to a close, ask her if there’s anything she wanted to discuss that you haven’t yet. Some birth mothers are not open about their situation or private lives. Just because she doesn’t share a lot doesn’t mean she’s not serious about adoption. The main thing she’s looking for is that you’ll be loving and caring parents to her child.