The adoption process is a highly-anticipated and hopeful journey for waiting parents – if you are here, you have come a long way. You have made the decision to grow your family through adoption, you have gone through the home study process, you have been matched (and maybe have gotten to know) an expectant mother, and now, the time is here. Her due date is just around the corner, and you are getting prepared to bring your baby back to his or her forever home.
The trip to the hospital is perhaps the most anticipated event in a waiting family’s adoption journey. And once you are there, you will also find it to be one of the most intense and emotional experiences yet. As the prospective parent(s), you will be overwhelmed with joy and excitement, but also may face some underlying anxieties as you await your baby. You may worry about how you will be treated by the hospital staff, or about how the birth mother might feel after giving birth.
If you are adopting a newborn from the hospital, it can be very helpful to discuss a hospital plan with the expectant parents and an adoption professional prior to the delivery day. Together, you can discuss your wishes as well as hear and understand those of the expectant mother. From who will hold the baby first, to who will be in the delivery room, the details will be outlined in an adoption hospital plan. Ultimately, this is the expectant mother’s birthing plan – but by establishing an open and trusting relationship with her from the beginning, you may find yourself intimately involved with the pregnancy, labor, and birth.
Having this discussion before the baby’s birth can help ease any anxieties you may be experiencing, as well as better prepare you (mentally, emotionally, and physically) for this day. By planning ahead, you can also put more time and energy into what is most important: welcoming your baby into this world.
To help you navigate the hospital experience, Adoptions With Love has put together some tips for hopeful families adopting a newborn from the hospital. These are designed to help you prepare for the trip the hospital, the labor and delivery day, as well as this stage of the adoption process. Most notably, they will help you make the most of your time in the hospital with your baby’s birth mother.
Before the Birth:
- Do not make set-in-place travel plans. Pregnancy is often unpredictable – only five percent of women actually give birth on their expected due dates. For this reason, we recommend that adoptive parents wait to make travel plans. As soon as the expectant mother goes into labor, she or the adoption agency will notify you that it is time to arrange for travel.
- Pack some items to accommodate the baby. Bring some basic items to accommodate the baby after he or she is born: one or two receiving blankets, a set of bottles and pacifiers, as well as some onesies and a baby outfit for going home. These are easy, packable items that will be good to have following the birth of your baby. Having a car seat is also very important. Items such as a pack and play, diapers, and formula are can be purchased once you leave the hospital and the adoption papers have been signed.
- Bring a gift for the birth mother and/or birth father. Bringing something special for the birth mother will show that you are thinking about her during this time. You may choose to bring some flowers or food. A lovely gift that they will have over time is very appropriate. Check with your adoption agency social worker to ensure gifts (and which gifts) are acceptable in the state.
At the Hospital:
- Understand the hospital’s adoption policies, as well as the birth mother’s wishes. The expectant/birth mother has likely already made a hospital plan, detailing who she wants in the delivery room, how she will give birth, and where she will be staying after the baby is born. She may also have some plan for your stay, too. She may want to meet you in person, or have you be a part of the labor and delivery process. She may want you to spend time with the baby in her room. She may even want the baby to sleep in your room during your hospital stay.
- The hospital may also have additional policies for your stay – if you will have your own hospital room, if you may have access to the baby’s medical information, and if you can move freely throughout the maternity ward and nursery. Be sure to understand these policies and fill out any paperwork as needed upon arrival, to ensure you make the most out of your hospital stay.
- Be sensitive to the birth mother’s needs. As overjoyed as you are to enter parenthood, it is important to remember that the hospital experience is primarily about the baby and his or her birth mom. While in the hospital, be sure to check in on her and ensure she is comfortable. Ask how things are going, but also leave her space and time alone with the baby if she requests. Many birth mothers regret not having enough time alone with their baby before the adoption and carry that grief with them. Remember that you will have plenty of time with the baby when you get home.
- Remain flexible and keep an open mind. Remember to stay flexible throughout this whole process, as a hospital plan (and the expectant mother’s wishes) may change at any time. For example, an expectant mother may first feel she does not want adoptive parents in the delivery room, but upon getting to know you, decide it is in everyone’s best interest. In the beginning, she may not want to see or hold her baby, but upon giving birth, desire some alone time with the baby in the hospital. Always be open to change, as this process is truly unpredictable.
Leaving the Hospital:
- Understand the legal papers. Every state has different laws stating when an expectant mother can consent to adoption. In every state, no papers can be signed until after the baby is born. In most states, written consent can be granted between 12 and 72 hours after birth.
- Be prepared for an emotional experience. Adoption is full of mixed emotions. As much joy and excitement it involves, there is also grief and goodbyes. Making an adoption plan is one of the most difficult decisions a woman can make for her child – be sensitive to her emotions and offer her a safe place to share those feelings with you or an adoption counselor. At the same time, remember that this grief is normal and you should never feel guilty for your own joy. Your happiness will ease her pain – she wants this for you and the child.
- Before you leave, be sure to talk to the birth mother about your plans for the next few months. It will be assuring for her to know that she will hear from you after the adoption, and through letters and pictures, see how happy and well the baby is.
- Be prepared to stick around. If you are adopting a newborn from another state, you will be required to stay in that state for some time after the baby’s birth. Typically, the ICPC clearance is around 7-10 business days. After that, you will be ready to bring your baby home.
If you would like to learn more about adopting a newborn from the hospital, or if you would like to start your own adoption journey in Massachusetts, please do not hesitate to call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731.