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First dates are pretty awkward. You’re not sure what to talk about, you worry about how you look and sound, and it’s impossible to tell what the other person is thinking.
Birth parents and adoptive parents tend to feel the same way about their first meeting after an adoption. Everyone wants to make a good impression, but no one knows how to do that because they barely know one another!
It’s completely normal to feel anxious about your first post-adoption meeting with your child’s family, but we’re confident that you can not only get through it but really enjoy it. Here are a few tips to guide you.
1) Call your agency.
In the first couple of years after you make your adoption plan, you can expect to get a call from Adoptions Together a month or a couple of weeks before your meeting is supposed to take place; after that, it’s up to you to reach out to us when it’s time for your next meeting so we know you’re on board. We have a counselor who is dedicated to working with birth parents and adoptive families “post-adoption” (after the adoption has taken place), and she will talk to you about what to expect if you’ve never had a meeting before. She’ll also reach out to your child’s adoptive family to schedule a date and time that works for everyone.
2) Know what to expect.
Meetings usually take place in one of the Adoptions Together offices or at a park, depending on the time of the year and how old your child is. A social worker from Adoptions Together will be there to support you and to make sure that you feel comfortable; if at any time during the meeting you feel overwhelmed, just pull her aside and the two of you can talk privately. Meetings usually last about two hours, during which time you’ll chat with your child’s family (don’t worry, your social worker will help come up with things to talk about!) and play with your child.
3) Think about who to bring.
If you’re comfortable bringing your children to the meeting with you, that’s great! It’s never too early for them to establish a relationship with their sibling. Aside from your kids, it might be tempting to invite your partner, your parents, your grandparents, or other family members or friends so that they can get to know your child. Bringing a support person is also a great idea, although we don’t recommend bringing more than one. The purpose of these meetings is for you to get to know your child and their family and begin building a relationship with them, which is difficult to do if there are too many people in the mix. So, definitely invite your partner, your mom, or your friend – but don’t invite all three.
Your first meeting might feel a little awkward, and that’s okay! The relationship is still new and everyone is a bit jittery. We promise that as time goes on, everyone will become more comfortable — we know this because after the first couple of meetings, most birth parents and adoptive families tell us that they feel comfortable setting up future visits on their own and just leaving our agency out of the whole thing. Of course, we’re always available if you want us there, but you’ll probably be surprised to find you don’t need us.
Do you have a meeting with your child and their family coming up? How do you feel about it? If you’ve already had a meeting (or two, or more), tell us how it went in the comments section below!