After a long journey of deciding to adopt, completing paperwork, waiting for an adoption opportunity, and getting to know the birth mother, the big day is finally here – it’s time to meet your baby! Adopting a newborn from the hospital is often the most anticipated event in an adoptive family’s journey.
To help you prepare, we’ve put together this quick guide on your adoption hospital experience. We also answer some of the most common questions that adoptive parents have and share an exclusive adoption webinar about what to expect when your baby arrives!
A Birth Mother’s Hospital Experience
For most birth mothers, preparing for their baby’s birth is one of the hardest things to do. At Lifetime, we encourage each birth mother to develop her own hospital plan. This plan expresses her desires and needs for her hospital stay and labor. Her adoption hospital plan will inform the hospital staff, Lifetime, and you exactly how she wants her labor and hospital visit to be handled. Having this plan in place before she goes into labor allows everyone (especially you!) to concentrate on the birth of your baby.
Before her baby’s birth, the birth mother will make a hospital plan with her Adoption Coordinator. Some of the choices she has with that include:
- Whether she is comfortable with you being present in the delivery room or if she’d rather have you remain in the waiting room.
- If she’d like you to participate in the birth process, and how (for example, some birth mothers invite the adoptive parents to cut the umbilical cord).
- For birth mothers who already have a child, if they’d like their child to be at the hospital too.
- Whether she’d like to be admitted to the hospital confidentially.
- If she’d prefer to recover in an area away from the maternity ward.
- Her desire to have family members, close friends, or other people in her support system with her at the hospital.
- How much time she’d like to spend with her baby before saying goodbye.
One of the most important items in the hospital plan for adoptive parents is how involved you are during the labor and afterward. As she creates her hospital plan, a birth mother is asked whether she wants the adoptive parents to be present for the birth. There’s a range of options, from having you be in the waiting room to inviting you into the hospital room itself.
Most birth mothers will decide to have some time alone at the hospital, and Lifetime encourages this. Spending time with her baby provides the birth mother the opportunity to feel settled in her decision and make peace with it before placement. After all, you can’t say “goodbye” before you’ve said “hello”!
Remember, even if the birth is an emotional time for you, you definitely should stick with the birth mother’s plan and respect her wishes. To continue building your relationship with your baby’s birth mother, attempt to make the hospital stay as comfortable as possible for her.
The birthing experience and the moments afterward are for the birth parents, and you need to allow the birth family to have their moment before you are granted parental responsibility. Additionally, childbirth is physically and emotionally intense, so we recommend that you respect their time and space. Support them as they do what feels right to them at the hospital. It’s good to keep in mind that until the birth parents sign the paperwork which terminates their parental rights, you don’t (yet) have any legal rights to their child. So, you’ll need to avoid making any decisions for the baby until the paperwork is signed. Even if a nurse asks you a question about the baby, the birth mother needs to be the one making those decisions right now.
Questions Adoptive Parents Ask About The Hospital Experience
When do we need to travel?
Once your birth mother goes into labor, Lifetime will contact you and notify you to travel. It’s usually impossible to predict when she’ll go into labor, so we don’t recommend making travel plans based on her due date. Instead, wait to receive directions from your adoption professional and prepare to travel as quickly as possible.
What should we bring?
Some essential items you’ll want to pack include:
- About three to four onesies
- A couple of pairs of baby pajamas
- Other baby clothing items in varying sizes
- Two receiving blankets
- A cute outfit for the day you’ll be discharged from the hospital
- Two to four bottles
- Two to four pacifiers
- Gifts for the birth parents, if they’re allowable per state law
And these are items you can purchase once you arrive in the birth mother’s state:
- Car seat
- Pack-n-play or travel crib where the baby can sleep
When will we get to see the baby?
This question is up to the birth mother, who will decide how things go in her hospital plan.
During her pregnancy, she will have made a hospital plan designating who she wants to see at the hospital, what role you should play, how much time she wants with her baby, and more.
Can we bring a gift for the birth mother?
A gift of some kind is a lovely idea! Whether or not you’re legally allowable to give the birth mother a gift depends on where you live. So you’ll need to check in with your adoption attorney to see if gifts are allowable in your state.
When does placement happen?
Each state has different laws regarding adoption placement. Typically, the birth mother can give written consent between 12 and 72 hours after giving birth. At this point, custody will be transferred to you. Once a birth mother chooses you, your adoption attorney can provide you with a closer timeframe.
What do we do after placement?
If your baby’s birth mother lives in another state, you will need to stay in her state for 7-10 business days as you wait for ICPC clearance. ICPC stands for the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children and makes sure that children placed into an adoptive family outside of their birth state get the right support services. After ICPC clears, you can go home and begin your new life as parents with your adopted baby!
If you’d like to learn more about the hospital experience as an adoptive parent, this webinar is an invaluable resource!
You’ll hear from Lifetime’s Director as she provides expert answers to the most-asked questions about bringing your baby home through infant adoption.
Get a glimpse at those sweet moments you’ve been dreaming of. Discover how to balance flexibility with preparation as we discuss the roles of your attorney and home study once the baby is here, the moments you’ll meet your baby at the hospital, and what to expect with travel clearances and finalizing your adoption. We also offer tips and insights about the birth mother’s side of the process once her baby is born.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on November 14, 2019, and has since been updated.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”