Here are some suggestions that will help expectant dads who are considering the option of adoption feel more supported, welcome, and involved.
Let’s say an expectant mom and expectant dad are considering adoption, and the expectant dad has been asked by expectant mom to accompany her to a pre-natal appointment. Is he going to encounter a physical space that indicates he’s welcomed there? Are the non-verbal interactions with staff going to encourage his participation or make him feel alienated? Are health care and helping professionals going to be able to provide referrals for him if has pregnancy options-related questions? Spaulding for Children has put together a phenomenal piece that describes concrete things healthcare and helping professionals can do to better engage birth fathers.
“Someone who may have a great deal of influence on the decision to be made is the father of the baby. It is the mother of the baby’s decision to determine how she wants the father of the baby engaged in the process of discussing pregnancy options with the health care professional. If she makes the decision to include him in the discussion, it is the health care professional’s responsibility to engage him in the process. It would be beneficial to all parties involved to have the father of the baby involved as soon as possible so that he can be a positive support to the mother as she makes her decisions.
Skills to engage fathers:
Health care professionals should be welcoming and helpful in encouraging him to support the expectant mother and setting the couple on the right path for getting the help they need to make options decisions together.
Health care professionals can facilitate informed decision-making by identifying birth father strengths and building on those in making referrals.
It is important for health care professionals to engage interested expectant fathers using the same techniques used to engage others: treating them with dignity and respect, actively listening to their concerns, and being non-judgmental.
If the father is at all involved with the mother, he will play a significant role in her pregnancy options decision. Therefore, he should have as much information as possible to help him support her decision-making process and issues of pregnancy so that he can become a partner in informed decision-making regarding pregnancy options. However, the decision to involve him is totally within the control of the pregnant woman.
Expectant fathers who release their parental rights may experience loss and grief and may find it helpful to talk about this with others, either in a professional or peer support setting. Therefore it is beneficial to provide referrals to local resources and support groups for fathers.
Once the choice has been made to make an adoption plan, expectant fathers can be encouraged to provide information about themselves, their medical history and their interest in contact with their child when he/she is an adult.
In open adoption, birth fathers may be able to maintain ongoing contact with their child and update any personal or medical information for the adoptive family.
Attending to his questions and concerns using the same non-directive, non-coercive techniques discussed previously.
Have resource information available about the role of the father in pregnancy care, birth and parenting.
Have male-oriented items in the office including décor, magazines, and information about fathering and fatherhood programs.
- Are there visual cues to tell men that they are welcome?
- Is staff comfortable talking to men of all backgrounds?
- Is staff utilizing engagement skills to welcome and involve fathers?
- Are there strategies in place to engage fathers when the arrive at the center or clinic?
- Are there male-friendly books, magazines, and activities?
- Are there father-friendly posters or displays in the lobby and rooms of the office?
- Are there written materials specific to the needs of fathers?
- Are there specific referrals and resources available for males?
- Are there any other supportive activities geared toward men?”