Meeting birth family
Wednesday 2 November 2022
Meet the Parents: the Adoption version!
When you initially venture into the world of adoption and your journey picks up speed, it does not necessarily enter your mind that one day you may be sat face-to-face with the birth family of the child/ren you are adopting.
The preparation phase of the process goes part way to ensure that this topic is at least mentioned but it does not rear its head again until you find yourself within the matching process. It is a topic that will be discussed with your social worker when the time is right and the decision will always be made with safety for everyone concerned in mind. However, it is ultimately your decision about whether you wish to meet with the birth family – here is our story.
Meeting the parents was a topic discussed during our stage 2 and revisited during the matching process. It was always something that my husband and I were happy to do, we could see the benefits and were keen to give this gift to our children.
In preparation for the meeting, the birth parents and ourselves wrote questions that we wanted to ask, these were shared with the other party beforehand so answers could be prepared. This worked well and provided some structure to our meeting. Questions from the birth parents included; ‘have the children made friends at school?’ / ‘what food are they enjoying at the moment?’ and from our perspective, we asked; ‘what favourite hobbies/food, Likes/dislikes do you have?’ / ‘is there anything specific you’d like the children to know about their family?’.
As you can imagine, when the details were finalised and the day came around, we had a mix of feelings. The day we would meet our children’s birth mother and birth father had arrived; apprehension, anxiety, excitement, happiness, being overwhelmed and dare I say, relieved the day was finally here, came all at once. Our meeting took place online due to Covid restrictions, there was a social worker supporting in the birth parents' home, as well as a social worker presiding over the meeting. The meeting felt safe and informal – despite the use of the word ‘meeting’ - it was really more of a chat.
Whilst the chat was emotional and difficult for everyone at points, it only lasted around 30 minutes and it was as much as success as could be expected. We could have possibly spent longer speaking to each other, as there was plenty more to be discussed in relation to the children. The feedback from the birth parents about how it had been ‘comforting’, ‘reassuring’ and ‘nice to hear about the children’ reinforced our decision to meet with them.
The reason we refer to this meeting as a ‘gift to give our children’ is that we can now tell them that we met with their birth parents, we know what they look like, a little about their personalities and how lovingly they spoke about the children. We can paint a small picture of their birth parents that they might otherwise not have had. The true benefit of ‘meeting the parents’ really did not become clear until after we had met them, the true benefit is that you can bring comfort to a birth family, as well as bring to life the birth family for your child/ren. We have been able to use this meeting as foundations for our letterbox contact as well and whilst we appreciate, it is not possible for all adoptive families to have this experience, we truly cannot recommend it enough.