The birth of a child is a meaningful and emotional experience. It’s usually a time when families witness a beautiful moment together. In a perfect situation, a loss would have no place in the birth experience. When an adoption is pending, it is time for the prospective birth mother to be in control to process the emotions and make one of the biggest decisions of her life.
In some cases, hopeful adoptive families are invited to the hospital by a birth mom who wants them to be involved from the start. All birth stories are different in terms of how adoptive parents are involved. Yet, they always include a birth mother who is struggling emotionally and physically as she brings a child into this world among an enormous amount of conflicting feelings.
It’s easy for adoptive parents to say they love the woman who is giving birth to the baby whom they have dreamed of parenting. However, there is a big difference between being well-meaning and blowing through the entire experience as if entitled. This is a special time between a mother and her child, and oftentimes it leaves adoptive parents struggling to find where they fit in the situation. They think of the years that they will spend raising the child, and the bond they will have with one another. They want to be there from the very first second the baby is born just like any parent. It requires resistance and grace to stand back, get your emotions in check and keep in mind that you are simply in the hospital as a friend to a woman who is going through an incredibly difficult time in her life.
Above any advice about the hospital stay, there is one thing that you will never regret: looking the birth mother in the eyes and telling her it is her decision and that you care about her no matter what happens. It is important to remember that she is a human being and is already handling her own intense emotions.
Helpful Tips To Keep in Mind During the Hospital Stay:
Do Not Make Assumptions
You must understand that this is another woman’s baby, and until she signs the consent paperwork, you have no rights to the child. It may sound harsh, but sometimes hopeful adoptive couples need to hear the harsh truth because heightened emotions can take over rapidly, sweeping aside all logic. At no time should you assume the child is yours until he/she is legally your child.
Do Not Take the Lead
Think about it this way: would you walk into your friend’s hospital room and snatch her baby into your arms without permission or being invited? Regardless of whether or not you have laid claim to the baby, the harsh reality is you have zero rights, legally or morally, to this child. The hospital stay is a time where you should be showing the birth mother how you appreciate boundaries, see the importance in your role as her child’s parent and respect her decisions. After all, this is a special time that many birth mothers hold dear for the rest of their lives. It is the one time she will be the child’s only mother, so it is important to let her have the space she needs. Always ask her permission or let her have the time she needs to offer these privileges to you. Whether she is firm in her decision to stick with her adoption plan or not, it’s not your place to make any decisions for the baby until the consent paperwork is signed. Even if a nurse is well-meaning and asks you for direction, you still need to hand over full control to the child’s mother. There is not a circumstance where answering on behalf of the birth mother is acceptable.
Never Guilt a Mother Into Placement
Prospective birth mothers may feel tremendous pressure to go through with their adoption plans, especially after they have seen the potential adoptive parents with the newborn child. At that point, the birth mom understands the potential adoptive family has traveled to the hospital, and she has witnessed the look in the couple’s eyes. She has most likely started to care about the adoptive family. She also knows the emotional and financial commitments they have made to her baby. Hopeful adoptive parents must consider there is already pressure on the birth mother because of these factors. So, don’t say or do anything to persuade her.
Adoptive couples shouldn’t overstay their welcome at the hospital. Also, it is inconsiderate to bring gifts such as monogrammed items with the baby’s initials (or any similar gifts.)
Be mindful of how you speak with the birth mother, the words you use make a difference. For example, saying something “will” instead of “could” happen, and “when” instead of “if” something occurs, could cause the birth mother to feel as though she doesn’t have ownership of her choices anymore. Some birth mothers like to hear the hopeful adoptive parents talk in absolutes, and that is why communication is very important.
Consider discussing your uncertainty of how to act or speak and your desire to avoid making her feel like she is obligated to go through with placement. Reassure her that you will still love and respect her, even if she chooses to parent. Remember that you may be telling your child this story for years to come, and you should act in a way that would make your child proud of the role you played in their adoption.
Here at Destiny Adoption Services, we provide a support person for the birth mother and adoptive family to help navigate the hospital stay.
Contact us for more information and assistance at 727-202-8966.
Author: Destiny Adoption Services
Destiny Adoption Services is proud to support and guide birth parents and adoptive families on the journey of adoption. We’re a state licensed nonprofit adoption agency with four decades of adoption experience, and our professional team of experts includes moms, adoptive moms and birth mothers who provide compassion combined with trusted resources and skills.