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How Birth Mothers Can Ask Good Questions to Potential Adoptive Parents

One of the things you hear constantly growing up is that “there are no stupid questions.” The pursuit of understanding what’s going on in your life or new knowledge is always encouraged. However, there is a difference between tactful questions and tactless. As you are getting to know potential adoptive parents, please keep in mind what is appropriate to ask, even if you have the best intentions at heart.

Many times, the way we word statements, questions and remarks can come out wrong, or be misinterpreted by those who receive it. Especially when talking to those in the adoption triad, it’s important to be mindful of this to eliminate any and all risk of offending an adoptive parent, birth mother or an adoptee unintentionally. Adoption Choices of Texas is here to help you with this resource on how to ask good questions to potential adoptive parents.

Tone of Voice

Tone of voice is very important. Especially during the times when your only form of communication with the adoptive parents is over the phone, whether that be calling or texting. One of the most important parts of communication is how you phrase what you’re saying, and the inflection in which you use to convey your meaning.. . So, for instance, you could ask a question — as simple as “how are you?” — but, depending on the tone of voice you use, the adoptive parents could misinterpret the way it comes across, and either take it as a positive or negative question. 

If your voice is monotone, it may be necessary to add further explanation and clarification, so the potential adoptive parents aren’t taken aback or put off by the way you speak. Instead of just saying, “ How are you doing?” ask “How are you doing? I haven’t heard from you in a while, and I’m worried” or something along those lines. This extra sentence ensures that there is no misinterpretation. 

Respect Boundaries

You wanting to get to know the adoptive parents is great. Please do so, as this can make your adoption journey to go smoother and be a more positive experience. It can also bring comfort to both you and the adoptive parents as you build a strong and healthy relationship. However, please understand that, while some people may be completely open and transparent about everything, others are more private. 

Be mindful that adoptive parents may have to go through many screenings and evaluations, and may already feel overly exposed. Everyone has the right to their privacy –. including you. So, it’s important to give the potential adoptive parents the same amount of respect you’d want them to give you. If you accidentally cross that boundary, apologize and ask a more appropriate question. 

Space Your Questions

In crime dramas, you see the scenes of interrogation where the police officer will rapid-fire questions to trip up the suspect. Now, you have seen the profile of the adoptive parents and have compiled a whole list of questions you want to ask. Make sure that this list has the most important questions on it, so the adoptive parents don’t feel interrogated and that you can actually have a pleasant discussion with them.

Best practices show that you get better answers when you focus on only one question at a time. You may even realize some things that you weren’t even thinking about. Even if you don’t get to ask all of your questions, you may find the answers you’re looking for throughout your conversation and visit. 

Questions to NOT Ask

On the other hand, there are many questions you shouldn’t ask. Most of them are common sense on why to avoid asking them. The general rule is if the topic seems sensitive, wait until the adoptive parents offer the information themselves once they feel comfortable with you.  Here are a few and the reasons why to not ask them. 

  • “What is your financial situation?” Most people don’t enjoy talking about their finances or anything money related with someone they are just getting to know.
  • “What has your adoption journey been like?” Not all adoptions are successful and many adoptive parents could have been waiting for years. Most adoptive parents are only going to want to look forward and not look back at the past. Their past with adoption really has no bearing on the adoption they are going through now with you and this baby. 
  • “Why are you adopting?” This may be in their profile and they may offer this information themselves. Please don’t ask unless they are offering. It’s very much the same as them asking why you are placing the baby for adoption. It’s very intrusive and doesn’t really matter.

How to Ask Good Questions to Potential Adoptive Parents

If you’re unsure of what is a good or bad question to ask, think about how it would make you feel if someone asked the same question of you. How would it make you feel? If your question causes a negative reaction, it’s best to avoid asking it of potential adoptive parents.

Remember that the adoptive parents are more than a profile in a book. Much like you, they have pasts and reasons that led them to pursuing adoption. The adoptive parents and yourself need to come to an agreement early on regarding how much of a relationship you want to have with each other. By understanding where you want to go, this lays the foundation to move forward and avoid any potential land mines.

Conversation is a two-way street. Just like there are questions that could make the potential adoptive parents uncomfortable, the same could be said for you. If they ask you something you don’t want to answer, you don’t have to. This is all part of navigating the beginning stages of getting to know each other. Keep in mind that they were probably not trying to upset you and didn’t realize that the topic is a sensitive one for you. Humans make mistakes and communication is one of the hardest things to do.

As an expectant woman or birth parent, to learn more about adoption, contact Adoption Choices of Texas. You can call us at 945-444-0333, text us at 945-444-0333, or email us here. If you are hoping to adopt, please visit us here. We look forward to helping you through your adoption journey!

Meet the Author: Courtney Moore was born in Huntington Beach, California. She is currently attending college for English with a minor in History. Her love for writing started at the age of 11 when she won a class competition for a personification of candy in a short story. In her junior year of high school, she was an editor for her school’s literary magazine. In her senior year of high school, her then English teacher told her that she should pursue a career as a literary scholar. The main reason she decided to not pursue that path is that her passions lied more in the creation of writings than the review of it. 

She currently lives in Las Vegas with her very spoiled cat Abby, who she happily adopted from the local animal shelter. Courtney has been a supporter of animal adoptions her whole life.

Her interest in child adoptions began at the age of 14. It was at that age that she learned of how many children were in the foster system. Her own childhood was very unstable; however, she was able to stay with at least one of her parents for a majority of it. As she got older, her interests in adoptions grew. Her hopes are that, one day, the foster care system is fixed and is treated as it should be.

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