birth mother counselingDear Mardie, we have been speaking with a birth mother and she is due in a few weeks, but she feels like she may be getting cold feet. She has mentioned seeing a counselor a few times but hasn’t taken any steps to do it. Should we encourage her to do it?  I’m not sure why she keeps talking about it if she’s not going to do anything.
Many times, people who need or want something may mention it, hoping that the person they are mentioning it to will offer.  Think about a child who says, “Wow, that ice cream sure looks good!”  As soon as they are asked, “Would you like one?”, the answer is usually an emphatic “YES!”
My guess is that this is what your birth mother is doing.  Mentioning counseling, in hopes that you will offer to help her find one, and perhaps also pay for it.  And, as the prospective adoptive parents of her child, it is the right thing to do. After all, wouldn’t you rather find out she’s changed her mind now before you spend more money in travel and legal fees?
You can ask your home study provider if they know anyone that she can counsel with on the phone, or help her look in her local area for a qualified counselor.  Your adoption attorney near her may also have some resources.  Two or three sessions should be enough for her to discuss the adoption and come to some resolution.
Here are a few ways you can broach the subject, rather than wait for her to bring it up again:

  • “I know you mentioned speaking with a counselor last week. Would you like me to help you find someone?”
  • “Are you still interested in speaking with a counselor? I can help you find someone if you’d like.”
  • “I spoke with the attorney and he gave me the name of a local counselor. Would you still like to speak with someone?”

Talk with your attorney about setting limits on counseling.  Adoptive parents should never have to pay for long term therapy, and setting boundaries is reasonable and expected.
It’s good to remember that this is a decision that your child’s birth mother will live with each and every day. The more prepared and positive she is about her choice, the better and healthier adoption you will have.