Often throughout the adoption process, attention may be focused on establishing a relationship and communication between adoptive parents and birth parents, and planning for what that communication will look like after the adoption placement. But another important part of the process is considering what to expect during the birth and delivery at the hospital. Planning for what the hospital experience will look like for both the birth parents and adoptive parents can help make the experience a positive and meaningful part of the adoption process. In the adoption arena this is often referred to as a “birth plan.”
Planning for the Hospital as a Birth Parent
The hospital experience can include some mixed emotions for the birth parents. There may be a great deal of happiness and excitement about the baby’s birth, an increased feeling of connection to the adoptive parents, and the bittersweet feeling of envisioning your child’s future. It has been said that no greater gift can be bestowed than the gift of adoption. However, there also may be a bit of awkwardness when determining exactly who will be present at the hospital and when, coupled with anxiety and/or sadness due to the significant decision being made. Creating a birth plan for the hospital prior to delivery can help manage some of the uncomfortable emotions and situations that may arise throughout the process. Consider what your preferences are for the following:
- Who do you want to be at the hospital with you? Are you considering inviting your family to meet your baby, and have you discussed with them the level of involvement you would like from them at the hospital? Consider setting boundaries and guidelines about what topics you feel comfortable discussing with them while at the hospital, and what kind of interactions you are comfortable with (taking pictures with the baby, having them meet the adoptive parents, etc.)
- How much interaction would you like with the adoptive parents? Consider if you will want them to be in the actual delivery room, at the hospital by your side throughout the experience, or if there are times when you would prefer to be alone (with or without the baby). How will you communicate to them if your preferences change during the process? The adoptive parents may be eager to be present, but it is also important to find a balance that will be best for everyone and honor the emotions that are likely to surface throughout the process.
- How much interaction with the baby are you planning to have? How much time would you like to spend alone with your baby? Although this may change in the moment, taking time to reflect on your needs and preferences before the delivery may help you communicate what you are feeling, and what you may need, when you are at the hospital. Also consider what type of mementos you may want from the hospital, including photos, footprints, etc.
Considerations for Adoptive Parents
The idea of going to the hospital can be as exciting as it is daunting for adoptive parents. You will likely have many questions about when you are permitted to go to the hospital, where you will be able to stay, and when you may spend time with the birth mother and the baby. Planning ahead can alleviate some of your anxiety throughout the process.
- Speaking with your attorney is an essential part of planning for the hospital. Your attorney can provide guidance regarding what to expect, estimated timelines, what documentation you may need, as well as their feedback regarding how the process has worked for adoptive parents in the past.
- If you have regular contact with the birth mother, talk to her about what contact she would like from you at the hospital. You may be very excited and anxious to see her and the baby, but this is a complex situation for her emotionally – ensure she knows that you respect her boundaries and privacy, and support her needs during this time. Working with your attorney to communicate and create a plan together with the birth mother may be helpful for ensuring everyone is comfortable voicing their own needs and finding a plan that everyone is on board with.
- Start planning what you will need to bring with you to the hospital, including what you may need if you are permitted to stay. If you are adopting a child in another state, plan to stay in the adopted child’s state until you are legally approved to return to your home state. Your attorney can provide guidance on estimated processing times which can help you when planning what you will need to pack.
Now more than ever, there are additional factors to consider with current, frequent changes in hospital policies regarding visitors and limits on how many individuals can visit hospital patients. All of these can factor into your experience, and working with the attorney handling the adoption can help you establish a plan to assist everyone in feeling supported throughout the adoption process at the hospital.