Meeting Birth Parents.

Have you met the birth parents of your child? @LisaKobeJ would like some advice on this difficult situation.

A Problem Shared1For many adopters this is one of the biggest hurdles to face, pre-adoption and in the early days, meeting the birth parents. For some cases, where a child’s life is threatened by identifying a future family, it obviously doesn’t happen, but, for many it is encouraged by your social worker. Having done it myself, I know it is the most bizarre and  insane situation you can find yourself in, meeting the person who’s children will, hopefully ,soon be calling you mum or dad.

How do we deal with this meeting? What do you ask? What should you expect?

Have you been through this?

How was it?

Did you decide against it?

Why?

Was it a positive experience?

Why?

We have some questions from those about to embark on this situation which you might be able to answer. Please help other adopters and prospective adopters by sharing in the comments below.

What sort of questions should I be asking birth parents?

How much information about my child should I be sharing – he has been placed 7 months now and was 15 months on placement so has changed quite a bit.

Should I allow SW to introduce me by my first name?

SW has suggested having a photo of me and birth mum, is this a good idea?

We live within 20 miles of BM, whilst this isn’t particularly local there are other reasons why we might find ourselves in the same area, should this cause me any concern?

Please remember how alone being  an adoptive parent can sometimes feel. Here your experiences can help others, so share. If you prefer you can contact @LisaKobeJ with your responses to her questions.

6 thoughts on “Meeting Birth Parents.

  1. Helen Nightingale

    Hi Lisa
    It was the weirdest, hardest thing we did throughout the whole process, much more nerve racking than either of our Panels. We met S, our two’s BM, before we met them. We went to a horrible room in the LA building with our SW and the Family Finder SW. We sat opposite each other, me and my DH one side and S on the other and it was really difficult. The LA had asked for us to do a photo all together and before I went in I was vehemently against the idea, but actually after we’d spent a while together I changed my mind. The meeting was useful on many counts, for e.g. I got to ask what they were like as babies, why she gave them the names she did, did they like music etc. And I guess it was good for her to see us and to know where her children were going. Also, it was good for us to be able to say to the children that we had met her and that we are committed to ongoing direct contact with their birth family. We have since all seen her together for a contact session, me and DH hated it but it was good for the kids to see her and it was helpful in that it means they don’t wonder about her and also they don’t have the opportunity to wish for that different, potentially better ( in their imagination) life back with the birth family.
    To be honest, I still hate it and it makes me feel sick before we go to meet her, but as long as my kids want to carry on seeing her then it’s fine with us. We grit our teeth and get on with it and reward everyone afterwards with pizza on the way home – and a large glass of wine at home for Mummy and Daddy!
    Hope that helps. good luck
    Helen

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  2. Vicki

    At the time we were nervous, but actually it was a really good experience. We met Mini’s BM in a contact centre, there were sofas, cups of tea, very informal. Our experienced SW led the questioning for us as we were so nervous, though we had a few questions prepared – was there a favourite song she sang to him?, was there anything she wanted us to tell him?, and we had a general chat about her and our interests. It was bizarrely natural, but not at the same time.
    In the middle of it, husband accidentally divulged where we live, and knowing she lives close and visits our town, along with her knowledge of where we are has led to my paranoia ever since!

    In many ways it was for her as much us. It settled some curiosities she had about us, made her feel less uncomfortable, and though it didn’t make any difference to her acceptance (or not) of the situation, at least she could see we were normal people who were going to love Mini. And I’ll never forget her smile, and a something special that she told me.

    We were introduced by first names only, and we then only ever used our first names on our letterbox letters.
    We didn’t really talk much about Mini, we’d only met him the day before for a few hours, but I’d perhaps try to stick to the things you’d share in a contact letter if you can. If your social workers are there, then I’d hope they would deflect any inappropriate questions for you. We generally cooed over how gorgeous he was but that was about it.

    We did have a photo taken, and until fairly recently it was in Mini’s bedroom – he could see that we’d met her, that she is a normal person, he can see the similarities to her, and he knows that actually we got on OK.

    Practically, we were told to get there 5-10 minutes before so our car wasn’t identified, only sign in with our first names, and leave after BM.

    In the end we never got to meet BD, he found he couldn’t do it. But if we ever adopted again, I’d be the one asking for the meeting…

    Happy to answer any more questions, Vicki

    Reply
  3. Rosemary

    We were able to meet both our boys’ birth parents, and I am really glad we did.
    It is much easier to talk to the boys about them, having met them. The boys like looking at photos of us with their birth parents, too, I think it helps them not to worry about choosing ‘sides’.
    As soon as we left, we parked round the corner and wrote down what we had learned (it didn’t feel right to take notes!).
    It was an emotional meeting, but the more time passes, the more glad I am that I have met them. We asked about their childhoods, about some good memories they had if the boys and why they choose their names.
    Good luck, whatever you choose.

    Reply
  4. plumstickle

    We were due to meet our two’s birth parents before meeting the children, but they didn’t turn up. At the time I was very disappointed but not surprised as they didn’t appear at the final contact with the children either. For the first four or five years, I religiously kept up the annual letterbox contact, as we were encouraged to do by both our and the children’s SWs. We were very open and asked the children to draw pictures, ask questions in order to get the birth parents to respond – which they did, twice tho never at the agreed time of year! Then, in therapy, we learned a lot of additional information about our children’s life stories through both filesearches and disclosures and decided not to contact them anymore. If the children want to meet them again when they are older, we will support them in this but will not encourage them to do so, particularly before they are adults. We wrote a final letter explaining why we would be discontinuing contact. Although we had wanted a more open relationship with our children’s birth family, we are all happier since we stopped contact. I do hope this doesn’t seem too negative and that it is useful to see things from another perspective.

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  5. Molly

    We met our children’s birth parents in the midst of introductions. In retrospect this was pretty good timing as we simply didn’t have a chance to really think about it, or dwell on it. The meeting was held at a LA contact centre and mediated by our rather marvellous family finding SW who really had the measure of the parents. We met them individually as they were no longer together. It appeared far harder for them than for us, but I think it was a positive experience for all concerned. The birth parents acknowledged that they didn’t have the resources or ability to keep the children safe and they appeared to welcome the chance to meet us. The BD was very kind to us in his own, rather clunky way, and we were reassured that adoption was the best route for the children. We had photos taken with each parent in turn – they are pretty awkward as no-one knew quite how to stand to mark this moment – smiley but removed. I don’t have the photos out and about but I have told the children I’ve met their birth parents and shown the pictures once or twice.
    I think as long as you have a SW overseeing the whole thing that you, and the Birth Parents, both trust then it should be a fruitful endeavour. Good luck – and don’t worry,

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  6. newmum

    We recently met our son’s BM. It was very nerve wracking in the lead up , but very positive for so many reasons. On both sides you can build up imagined pictures of each other, then you meet a fellow human being, it pops the imagined balloon. We all got progressively relaxed as the meeting went on and even had several laughs by the end. My husband and I had agreed to be as open as possible, (obviously not about details). We tried to convey a whole picture of how our son is currently, the lovely bits, the challenges. We were open about ourselves and what drives us as people, what we value in life. She had a lot of questions for us, which was a surprise at first, then I really got it: this was her chance to take responsibility for her son’s well being, by reassuring herself that we would really nurture, look after, treasure him. So we honoured that and answered as carefully and thoroughly as we could again within bounds of confidentiality. We’ve been told she liked us and it has made her feel much better, and I found that very moving. I can’t imagine how it is to be in her shoes, but it can’t be easy, so if it’s brought any better feelings about the situation then I’m really pleased. We in turn really warmed to her, and feel we can now describe a real human being when it’s time to discuss all this with our son and when we write our annual letters. It took courage on both sides, but honestly I felt huge admiration mostly for her, it must have taken a lot to do the meeting. The hardest thing for me was wanting to convey how much we love our son/her son, yet wondering if that was helpful or hurtful? I hope we tread the right line. It has left us with a sense of peace that is hard to explain. Adoption is complex, and facing that complexity was helpful. For us, this was a very valuable step in our adoption of our gorgeous boy.

    Reply

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