The hospital visit is the first time you will meet your child. You have been anxiously waiting for this day for what feels like an eternity. You have been praying that your Christian adoption will lead to the family you have always wanted. Have you prepared yourself fully for the time at the hospital?
Setting a Legal Framework
Your adoption lawyer or agency will go over all of the details with you regarding your role at the hospital. The birth mom will probably have a good idea about how much or how little she wants you involved in the labor and birth process. This is an instance in which the decisions are almost entirely up to the birth mom. She might want one of you in the room while she is laboring, but not there for delivery. She may prefer that you stay with her throughout the birth, especially if she is on her own. Conversely, she might want to have that time to herself so she can properly say goodbye. Ideally, you will know what you are legally allowed to do and what she prefers well before she goes into labor.
Advance Planning for Hospital Stays
You may be in the delivery room, and you may be in the waiting room. Either way, you will probably spend a lot of time at the hospital. Be prepared in advance by going for a hospital visit. Prospective parents are encouraged to tour maternity wards at hospitals. Adoptive parents are not an exception. This tour allows you to speak with the staff, see the hospital and delivery rooms and familiarize yourself with the nursery. You can also talk with the tour guide, who is usually a nurse in the ward, about how to make your role known to the staff on the day of your child’s birth.
Visiting the Birth Mom and Saying Goodbye
Healthy babies can generally leave the hospital within 24 to 48 hours after birth. Make sure you have all legal documents signed before taking your child home. Likewise, you should consider how you plan to say goodbye to the birth mom. This is a touchy subject, but one that is possibly best discussed during the pregnancy. Ask the birth mom if she would like you to visit her before you leave for home with your new family. She may have chosen to say her goodbyes earlier when it was just her and the baby alone together. She may wish to give the child one last kiss and cuddle before you leave. Let her know that she is valued and respected by allowing her to decide how to say goodbye. It may be one of the most meaningful acts you can offer to this woman who has just made your dream of a family become a reality.