Many adoptive parents who are doing an infant adoption have a rose-tinted view of how the big day will go. They’ll get the call, be in the room during the birth, and be the first ones to hold their new baby. However, it’s important to remember the one working the hardest during all of this: the birthmother. Here are some tips about how to make your time at the hospital go smoothly for all involved.
Remember the Steps
Keep in mind that, no matter how certain the birthmother seems, the baby is not yours until the papers are signed. You have no right to the child right away, and you should avoid all assumptions to that end. While most infant adoptions go off without a hitch, it is important to remember the legalities of the adoption, especially this close to the finish line.
The birthmother has just gone through what is likely one of the most difficult experiences of her life — don’t let that get lost in the excitement of the baby’s arrival. Follow her lead on everything. If she wants company, she’ll let you know. If she needs time alone with the baby, that’s fine too; this is likely the only time she’ll have to experience mothering this child. Showing the birthmother that you respect her and her choices can go a long way toward assuring her that you will follow through on everything you promised to provide her child.
Don’t Spread the Love Just Yet
Do not, under any circumstances, invite any extended family to the hospital to celebrate the child’s birth. That is, at best, rude and insensitive, and at worst harmful to your relationship to the birthmother. This is her birth experience, and most women do not want to be surrounded by strangers in their hospital room. Even if the birthmother encourages you to invite your families, be tactful about who you choose to bring in.
While this is certainly an exciting time, try to avoid getting so swept up that you completely forget all manners. Watch out for the social cues that might indicate the birthmother would like some time to rest, or a moment alone with her family, or some time with the baby. Be aware of how the hospital is treating her; sometimes well-meaning nurses might turn to you for questions about the baby’s care, but those should always be directed back to the birthmother until the official papers are signed. Watch for the signs that the birthmother may need help advocating for herself; is she being treated like any other mother giving birth, as she should be? This is a time where you can prove to the birthmother that you are the loving, caring family she believes you to be.
Avoid the Guilt Trip
This is a tough one, because in many cases your very presence might guilt a birthmother into making a decision she’s having second thoughts about. Women who have made adoption plans for their child are under an incredible amount of pressure to go through with them, and as much as you might already love the child, you would never want to separate them from a mother who doesn’t truly want to place them for adoption. Let the birthmother know that you will support her choice, no matter what it is, and back that up by making sure she feels an ownership over the situation and in control of her child until the decision is final and the papers signed.