February 18, 2009

Q&A: Meeting Ms B

Melissa asks, "What was the meeting like when you met Firefly's birthmom? What kind of questions were asked, how did you feel etc."

I went back to the posts I wrote right before and after that meeting. I sound like I was holding a lot of emotion at bay. That's pretty accurate.

By the time of our first meeting, it had been almost two months since we first learned Ms B was interested in us. So there had been a lot of time to sit with the basic information we had about B's pregnancy and circumstances, and to ask follow-up questions of the agency counselor. We weren't officially matched or whathaveyou with Ms B (we needed to meet first), but our profile materials weren't circulating anymore. What we hadn't been able to do was sit face-to-face with Beth and see if we meshed as people. Which, to me, is just so crucial in open adoption.

Much of the meeting and the lunch afterward was the sort of small talk you make when you're getting to know somebody--the questions about childhood and hobbies and all that. Like so many early interactions in open adoption, it was oddly ordinary on the surface with all sorts of emotion churning underneath. As far as our questions for her, we wanted to know about her process so far, what had brought her to the point of planning an adoption, what options had been explored, the reactions of her family and the baby's dad. (Quick sidenote: It turned out this was her second agency. She dropped the first--which only did closed adoptions--when her mom pointed out that she hated the fact that her own adoption was closed. She contacted the first agency when she was like five minutes pregnant and told them she wanted to place. They said, "Wonderful!" and sent her preliminary placement paperwork to fill out, no questions asked. Great "counseling," huh?)

Ms B asked a lot about our relationships with Puppy's first parents--how those worked, how frequently we interacted with them. I remember she wanted to know if we called them every time Puppy hit a milestone like a first tooth. (No.) We talked quite a bit about our particular philosophy of open adoption and what our expectations would be of her. She also had questions about our parenting style and what sort of time we spent together as a family. She seemed eager to convince us that we could confidently expect this to be our baby, which made me squirmy.

As far as feelings, I was full of nervous anticipatory excitement. T and I had talked a lot about things we wish had gone differently in our first adoption, and I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to not make the same mistakes twice. For some reason, I was stuck on the fact that she had seen a ton of pictures of us, but we didn't know what she looked like. I don't know why that bothered me so much, but it did. I think because it made it hard for me to visualize what it would be like to meet with her while we waited. If it had only been a week or two before we met her, I don't think it would have been as big of a deal to me.

It felt a lot different than our first meeting with Puppy's birth parents. T and I were more confident this time, more sure of what was important to us. We weren't worried about saying something that would cause her to "unpick" us. If anything, we wanted to get as many of our weaknesses and non-negotiables out there as we could, so that Beth could move on to another family if we weren't right for her. Better to find out incompatibilities now, than to be stuck trying to fix things a few years down the road. Which is one reason I think these kinds of meetings require a different kind of counseling approach in open adoption than in semi-closed. It's not about getting to the point of placement, but about all those years afterward.

5 comments:

Yondalla said...

Check last paragraph for a name.

Thank you for sharing this.

Heather said...

Thanks, Yondalla. It wasn't an accident. I'm getting tired of all the initials.

melissa said...

wow this was so helpful! Thank you for sharing, I think hearing about other's experiences helps me to visualize an easy smooth process.

cindy psbm said...

very interesting!
I like knowing about your reactions to meeting Beth.
I remember when I was going to meet my son's adoptive parents I wished that I could give the agency more information about myself. I did give them some, but learned later that that info was not given to the adoptive parents.
It really should be more equal.
Maybe expectant moms should make a 'profile' of themselves including a pic.
I don't know if that would really be appropriate. Just an idea...

luna said...

I love reading about this and your process. especially because it seems like your relationship with ms. b, or beth, seems so healthy. thanks for sharing your story.

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