Too many adopting parents unintentionally sabotage their efforts to match with a prospective birth family because they fail to understand the expectant parent’s perspective. They come to the adoption process with a huge focus on “ME” or “WE” and although it is completely understandable, the actions that result from such a mindset do not typically help their cause.
“We have suffered enough.”
“We have waited long enough.”
“We have worked hard enough.”
“We have spent enough.”
“WE WANT TO FIND A CHILD!”
The purpose of this article is to help you, a hopeful adoptive parent, understand and then focus on the other perspective – the expectant parent’s perspective. Where are they coming from? This is an important question to answer because if you cannot see and try to understand their perspective, then:
- How can you create an effective adoption profile that “speaks” to them?
- How can you develop a respectful, long-term relationship with them (however open your relationship may be)?
- How can you raise a child who will love both of his or her families?
Consider for a moment what the expectant parents have recently experienced or are currently experiencing:
- They were not planning to get pregnant, but nonetheless, that’s the situation they are in.
- They may have considered having an abortion, but ultimately decided to continue the pregnancy.
- They may have considered parenting their child themselves. They may still be considering this.
- Can I afford it?
- What support do I need?
- How does this affect my goals, my plans, and my future?
- Can I figure out a way to give my child everything that he or she needs?
- Clearly they are also considering making an adoption plan.
- How am I supposed to pick parents for my child?
- How “open” do I want the relationship to be?
- Will my child hate me?
- Will I ever get over the pain and loss?
- Can I trust people I really don’t know that well to love my child as much as I do?
Read these four main bullet points again and pause for just a few seconds after each one to let them sink in.
Having not experienced an unplanned pregnancy myself I am sure that this just scratches the surface in terms of their feelings and struggles. Nonetheless, this is likely some of what is going through their minds when they read your adoption profile and begin their relationship with you.
You can understand now how you and they come together with such divergent perspectives.
So the key for prospective adoptive families then is to understand and appreciate BOTH perspectives. “Separate Your History From Their Present” means continuing to find meaning and purpose in the experiences that led you to adoption. It also means being careful not to let that past prevent you from focusing fully on the expectant parents and their situation when writing your adoption profile, responding to their emails and phone calls, and meeting with them to explore the possibilities.
There are a lot of reasons why families adopt, but what many families fail to appreciate is that for the most part, those reasons are not particularly important to the expectant parents. Quite simply, expectant parents are consumed with their own situation when they meet you and are rightly focused on figuring out what is best for them and their child, not what you might need.
Given the divergent perspectives described above, failing to separate your history from their present creates opportunities for verbal and non-verbal miscommunication. You will probably never know that it even occurred. You just won’t have a match. The families who deep down in their gut understand this will likely communicate more effectively, match more quickly, and develop a stronger long-term relationship based on true compassion, patience, and love.
Take our online course called Connecting with Today’s Generation of Expectant Parents to fully prepare yourself and set yourself up for success.