Preparing for the Birth as a Prospective Adoptive Parent

You’ve made it through the waiting period, matched with an expectant parent, and the moment you’ve been waiting for is now here. The baby is about to arrive! This can be both an exciting and scary time. We’re here to guide you through it with care. Here are some important things to keep in mind about the birth and hospital stay.

Every birth parent has their own needs for their hospital stay and desire to spend time with their baby. She may want the baby to stay in the room with her, while others may prefer to share caretaking of the baby with you or even have you do all the caretaking. She may want you in the room while she delivers, or she may prefer you to come after that baby is born. She may also want to take home mementos like the bassinet card, baby bracelet, footprints, or a small lock of the baby’s hair. It is important to remember how much the expectant parent is going through during this time. Not only are they giving birth, but they are nearing the time where they will decide to place their child for adoption. She deserves to feel comfortable and to have her wishes respected.

Be respectful of the birth parent’s experience during this time. This is their opportunity to spend time with their baby before placing them with you. You may be eager to be with the baby or have your friends and family visit, but keep in mind that you will have a lifetime to make memories with your child. The hospital experience is the birth parent’s time with her child and should be an experience that she can look back on over the years and remember as warm and positive.

The hospital will have its own policies and procedures regarding adoption. Before the birth, the birth mother’s Advocate will speak with the social worker at the hospital where she plans to deliver. This is done so we can find out beforehand how the hospital handles adoptions, to let the hospital know what the birth mother’s hospital plan is, and so that you and the birth mother can know what to expect when you arrive at the hospital. Most hospitals work very hard to honor the birth mother’s wishes during her stay, and to include the prospective adoptive parents in the process according to her plan.

As prospective adoptive parents, you do not have the legal right to make decisions about the baby’s care. Until the birth parent signs an adoption consent, they are the legal parent of the child. This means they have the authority to make all decisions regarding medical care of the child. If they wish, they may include you in those decisions, but they are not obligated to. You should anticipate the hospital staff deferring to her for all decisions regarding the child.

The birth parent has the right to be treated respectfully by hospital social workers, nurses, and other personnel. We always try to prepare and educate the hospital staff in advance; however, occasionally you and the birth mother may encounter people with different attitudes and ideas about adoption. If you find that someone on the staff is treating her disrespectfully, you may help her by letting our staff know about the problem. The Birth Parent Advocate can talk directly to the hospital social worker who can intervene.

It’s normal to feel nervous, overwhelmed, and excited! We always talk about the adoption process being a whirlwind of emotions. The hospital process is no different! You’ve likely been excitedly looking forward to the birth for weeks, months, and maybe even years. Now it’s finally here, but there’s still that uncertainty if you will actually be adopting because the birth parent does not officially decide until a few days after delivering. All of these emotions are to be expected. Try to take it moment by moment and not put too much pressure on yourselves to feel a certain way. If you’re struggling, reach out to your counselor for support!

It is important to remember that the time immediately following the placement is often very emotional for everyone. The birth mother will be missing her child and experiencing grief and sadness. She may also be feeling relief that her pregnancy is over, the adoption is complete, and she can start the next chapter of her life. Experiencing your joy at becoming parents is often a comfort to the birth mother and a reinforcement of her decision to place her child with you.

It is now time for your relationship with the birth parents to grow in a new way. You may have established a plan for ongoing contact with each other. Sometimes there is a transition period where adoptive parents and birth parents are trying to figure out what their relationship is going to be like now that the baby is born and living with the adoptive parents. Each side may be reluctant to call or contact the other trying not to intrude or cause any pain. It is important for birth parents to know that they are an important person in your life and for them to feel comfortable with the post placement plan all of you have made. This is a time when sending extra pictures, cards or letters may be very appreciated. These gestures will promote the birth parent’s healing and set a positive tone for the post placement relationship.