What advice would you give to an adoptive parent about their first contact expectant parents?

AMY SCHUMAKER

I think just as an expectant parent speaking with a prospective adoptive parent that everybody has to be careful to not offend each other but also to come in looking at it as a marriage. The adoptive parents should be sensitive that the expectant mother is quite nervous and she’s really emotional at this stage. She doesn’t know who you are, you don’t know who they are and so you have to really just ask questions and be willing to be completely open. And if an expectant mother ask what type of contact you’re willing to give. Be really honest and not to promise anything that you may not be willing to give because if you tell a birth parent that you’re willing to have visits twice a year or thrice a year and then after everything had been done you’re not willing to do that then pretty much you have misconceived or misled the birth mother cause this birth mother is looking forward to having visits three or four times a week or twice a year.

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As everyone ages, and the birthmother, if she’s a younger birth mom, becomes older and starts to establish her own life then circumstances may change. Like myself, I was 23 at the time, I was living in the same state as the adoptive parent and so I was able to negotiate to meet a couple of times a year because we only live 2 hours apart. Then speed up to 11 ½ years later, I am now 3000 miles away from the parents that I placed with. So I see my child and her family once a year instead when I go home to visit my family. The family is pretty good about staying in contact even if it is once a year through email, through pictures or Christmas presents and so forth. Something that I really want to make sure stayed in place even if I did move away. That’s one thing that I think parents need to be sensitive about and also just to be willing to answer anything, willing to expect that each party might have some differences and also to just really think about there’s more than just one person in place. There’s the sisters that are going to be aunt, there’s the parents who are soon going to be grandparents and how are they going to interact with these individuals as well if they want to have some type of contact with.

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