So, I thought I'd share some great information that I learned at the National Families Supporting Adoption Conference about communicating with birth parents. Kevin Theriot is an amazing social worker and was the presenter for this workshop. Most of this information came from him, but I'm telling it in my own way. There is a lot of information that I wish someone would've told me when we first adopted our daughter almost ten years ago.
I'm going to split it into several posts...otherwise it's just too long! Today we'll start at the beginning. It is, after all, a very good place to start. (:
You are ready to adopt a baby. You're either working on a home study, or have it completed. You are spreading the word about your desire to adopt, and you've set up an e-mail address designated to receive communications from potential birth parents. You log on one day, and discover an e-mail from a birth mom. You're ecstatic! Overjoyed! Exuberant!
Before you get too carried away, there are a few things you should do (or not do). The first thing is actually a 'not do'. Do NOT assume that the birth parents have any information about your preferences for adopting. If you have any 'deal-breakers' (level of drug/alcohol abuse, specific gender, ethnic background, etc.) then you need to tactfully ASK about those things right up front. It's just mean to pursue a relationship and then have to tell the birth mom later on that you're not interested because you found out about one of these deal-breaker issues. Remember to be sensitive, but don't be afraid to ASK!
The next thing is to BE HONEST! The birth parents will probably have asked you some questions. Answer them openly and honestly, whether you think it's what they want to hear or not.
So, reply to that first e-mail and then wait patiently to hear back. If you do hear back, you should ask some screening questions to make sure that they are legitimate birth parents. It's rare, but unfortunately there are a few misguided people out there who try to scam hopeful adoptive couples. And those questions....will be covered in my next post.
Until then, Happy Adoption Awareness Month!