Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Question: I will soon be meeting my daughter, who I gave up for adoption 17 years ago. I am really anxious and worried that she won't like me or that she won't want to continue to have a relationship with me. I have been waiting for this day since I gave her away and now that it is here, I am more worried about what's next.

We have communicated over the years through letters, e-mails and Facebook, but this is the first live conversation/meeting. Any advice?

Answer: It sounds as if you're framing her in your mind as having all the power. Remember, you're fully grown and much more prepared for this than she is, so it might be helpful to remind yourself that she's going to be a bit of a mess, too. You're both vulnerable. Understand that, and be ready to give both of you copious breaks and liberal amounts of forgiveness.

Also, I urge you not to go into this with any set expectations. Wanting her to like you and stay in touch with you is natural, but it also reduces this meeting to a transaction with a beginning, a middle, and a fixed outcome - which it isn't. It's the beginning of a new phase of both of your lives, and it could have several different outcomes over time. She could decide against seeing you again - then reconsider in a year or five or 10. Or now choose a relationship and later change her mind, or something else entirely.

Since you are a mom, think like a mom: The joy of children isn't in their turning out as you hoped, it's in seeing them turn out as they are, whoever that may be. Adjust your expectations to "I want to see who she is" if you can. That can't go wrong.

Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.