Remember: The Birth Mother is the hospital’s patient. You are a guest of the birth mother, not the hospital’s client. Their concern is the health and well-being of the birth mother and the baby, not the comfort and needs of her guests.
Respect hospital policy–be flexible! Hospital policies regarding adoption can be different at every hospital. Everything from your access to the baby and his/her physician, to the hospital’s discharge policy may be evolving. Stay flexible and calm–Wellspring’s staff will be there to help.
Express concern, interest and care directly to the Birth Parent. Talk to the birth mother when you are in her presence. Include her in your attention. Don’t just look at and talk to the baby.
Let the Birth Mother retain control of the baby in your presence. Let the birth mother hand you the baby; don’t take the baby out of her arms. Similarly, stay in the background while the birth mother has as much time as she wants with the baby.
Don’t bring your family and friends to the hospital, unless the Birth Mother has met and invited them. The hospital is not the place to introduce your family and friends to the baby. The hospital patient is the birth mother. Her friends and family will be visiting; this may be their only chance to see the child. Consider the highly emotional state of the birth mother, and don’t intrude and possibly upset the birth mother with unfamiliar faces.
Try to take one day, one hour, at a time. This is an exciting, highly emotional time. But it is in your best interest to try and sustain a little emotional distance until arrangements are finalized.
If the Birth Mother chooses to participate in the transfer, let her be proactive. Wait for the birth mother to give you the baby. Don’t take the baby away from her. Similarly, let the birth mother be the first to leave the room or drive away after the transfer is completed. It is important for her healing process that she not have an image of the baby being taken from her.
Talk to the Birth Mother about what she wants you to do during labor and delivery. Think about your comfort level. Don’t agree to participate in a way that makes you uncomfortable. In turn, don’t urge the birth mother to include you in any way that makes her uncomfortable.
Ready your support system. Awaiting a baby’s birth is never easy. Let your friends and family know how they can help you–emotionally and logistically. Let them know you’ll need support over the telephone –but not at the hospital–once the big day arrives
Each Birth Parent is unique. There is no way to know how the birth mother will react to the birth experience, what support she will seek, how she will emotionally and physically respond to delivery and the hormonal shift that follows delivery.
Emotions surrounding birth are some of life’s most intense. Be prepared to see the birth mother display extremely strong emotions. Any emotion from deep sadness to withdrawal can surface at any time from labor through the transfer. This is normal.
The Birth Mother will experience dramatic emotional shifts. Within the first 48 hours following birth, the birth mother will live on an emotional and physical roller coaster. She will experience labor and delivery, hormonal shift, physical recovery and the initial stages of detachment. Exhaustion, adrenaline and fluctuating hormones can bring powerful emotional shifts. This is normal.
Expect surprises. No matter how well you and the birth mother have planned for the hospital, or how good your communication is, expect pre-made plans to change. Nothing can really prepare the birth mother for what she will experience during and after the birth. As her emotions fluctuate, so will her needs. This is to be expected.
Birth Parents must say “hello” “see you later” and “good-bye.” Birth parents may need time alone with the baby to realistically come to terms with their decision to place the child with the adoptive family. The hospital provides the best time and place for them to begin to face and accept their decision. Don’t automatically fear the private time between the birth parents and the baby.
Think of the first 48 hours as belonging to the Birth Mother. In most cases, the birth mother feels very deeply about the child. Frequently, she perceives that she has the first 48 hours, and the adoptive parents have the rest of the child’s life. Don’t misinterpret a lack of willingness to include adoptive parents in the hospital time as “having second thoughts.”
The Birth Parents’ families and friends may be protective of the Birth Mother. The frustration of not being able to alleviate the emotional distress of the birth mother may translate into unhappiness or coldness toward all those involved in the situation, including the adoptive parents.
The hospital’s personnel will focus concerns on the Birth Mother. Regardless of the hospital’s policies regarding independent adoption, employees are individuals who may have a wide range of feelings toward adoption. For some staff members, independent adoption may be a totally alien practice. Remember, you’re dealing with individuals and their reactions may not reflect hospital policy. As always, call on the Wellspring staff if the need arises.
Be prepared for your own emotions as you separate from the Birth Mother after the transfer. After weeks or perhaps months of working together with your birth mother toward the common goal of a healthy birth, it may be very challenging to emotionally separate from her after your child’s transfer. Conflicting emotions that have arisen from time to time during the pregnancy may set as the birth becomes imminent. This insecurity is normal and is frequently experienced by birth parents as well as adoptive parents.