7 Tips for Adopting Families Talking to an Expectant Mom

By Jess Nelson, Community Manager, PairTree

June 29, 2023

5m read

You’ve been messaged by an expectant mom, now what?

What do you do, what do you say? How much is too much?

It’s okay to be nervous…you’re building a new relationship, and a lifelong one at that! It might be hard to believe, but expectant moms are just as nervous as you are.

How to Communicate with an Expectant Mom

1. Be Yourself

Don’t over promise and under deliver. Be authentic, honest and open - she can tell if you’re just telling her things she wants to hear.

If she really wants an open adoption with annual visits, but you aren’t comfortable with that, be honest with her. Don’t lead her on, or hope that she’ll change her mind.

2. Follow Her Lead

Let her talk about what she wants to talk about. As prospective adoptive parents, you automatically want to talk about the baby, but if she wants to talk about the weather you talk about the weather.

Ask questions about HER, not only her baby. Show an interest in her as a person, as a mother.

3. Be Patient and Supportive

Don’t be upset if she doesn’t always respond right away, or there are breaks or lulls in conversation. She is processing a lot of emotions right now and silence doesn’t always mean she has changed her mind.

Offer solutions to problems - she needs a ride to a docter’s appointment, help her get one. Offer her any support and resources that your agency/attorney have available and make sure she has access to counseling!

4. Rein It In

We know - it is SO exciting when an expectant mom reaches out to you…but it’s usually not exciting for her. It’s difficult, stressful, sad, and scary to be faced with an unplanned pregnancy and consider adoption.

So refrain from phrases like “we’re so excited to hear from you!” and use language like “thanks so much for reaching out!”

It’s okay to be excited - share that excitement with your partner, or send us an email - we’ll be excited with you!

What NOT to Do When Communicating with an Expectant Mom

5. Don’t Be Judgmental

Don’t automatically assume that all expectant mothers are 16 and pregnant or addicts. Avoid any preconceived notions you might have of expectant moms.

Did you know that most birth moms are actually 24-36 years old?

At the very least they are humans too, and are so much more than expectant mothers.

6. Don’t Be Nosy

Don’t ask intrusive questions.

Your lawyer, agency or social worker will ask the tough questions. Topics like: finances, the father, drug use, race of the baby are off limits unless she brings them up.

7. Don’t Refer to HER Baby, as YOUR Baby

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of connecting with an expectant mom, but her baby is still her baby. Referring to her baby as your baby can turn off an expectant mom and is disrespectful.

Our Top Questions to Ask an Expectant Mom

Especially in initial conversations, it’s important to get to know each other first, and build up a level of trust. Don’t jump right into heavy hitting conversations.

  • How are you feeling?
  • How has your pregnancy been so far?
  • When are you due?
  • What are your interests and hobbies?
  • When did you start thinking about adoption?
  • What are you looking for in an adoptive family?
  • What are your plans for the future?
  • Is there anything you want to know about us?
  • Are you working with an agency or attorney already? (if you’ve connected directly)
  • Is it okay if our attorney/social worker/case worker reaches out to you?

Questions to Avoid

Asking really personal questions from the beginning is invasive, and rude. Steer clear of anything too sensitive in nature. Let your professionals ask these types of questions, and you focus on building a relationship.

  • Have you ever placed a baby for adoption before?
  • Who’s the father?
  • Why won’t the father marry you?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you drink or do drugs?
  • Do you think you’re going to change your mind?
  • How many men might be the father?
  • Were you assaulted?
  • How much money are you going to need?
  • Are you taking pre-natal vitamins?

Practice Awareness

The way you word questions, and the tone of your voice, says more than you might realize.

Avoid phrasing questions that imply the answer. For example, “you’re not working right now, are you?” or “you don’t know who the father is, do you?”.

These both imply the answer is ‘No,’ and can make an expectant mom uncomfortable and embarrassed. It’s easy to pass judgment on people, but be mindful of the way you’re speaking to an expectant mom.

Ask a question, and then listen.

If you ask a question, wait for an answer…and listen to what she has to say. Don’t just rush on to the next question so you can get through everything you want to ask.

She might not want to share.

And that's okay. She might just want to talk about the weather, or sports, or pets. Some expectant mom’s don’t want to be your best friend, or share intimate details about their lives.

Some just want to know that you’ll be good parents and take care of her child.

When navigating your relationship with an expectant mom, remember to be kind and respectful. Try and imagine what it would be like in her shoes right now and keep that in mind when talking with her. And as always, we’re here to help!

Download our How to Talk to an Expectant Mom Guide to have handy during those first conversations.

Jess Nelson Jess Nelson is the Community Manager at PairTree, focused on growing the resources, programs and education offered for both expectant and birth families, and adoptive families. Jess has spent the last 5 years working in the field of private adoption, first as a paralegal for an Adoption Attorney in Louisiana and most recently with PairTree. As a birth mom of two through private adoption, her firsthand experience of both agency and attorney adoption led her to becoming an adoption professional and join the fight for reform and post placement care for birth moms.