Things to Consider When Attending the Birth of Your Adopted Child
I was fortunate enough to be in the delivery room to welcome my second daughter in to this world. I was right alongside her first mommy, holding her hand, and telling her how brave and powerful she was. I felt her contractions through the squeeze of her hands and saw the intense affliction and grief through the tears in her eyes. I was in awe of her strength and also sat with her in brokenness. I can say with certainty that it is a moment I will never forget and I’m forever grateful to my daughter’s birthmother for including me. Those hours in the hospital and sitting at her bedside while she brought life in to the world were profound, magical, and made me appreciate and love her in a way that can never be broken.
Respect the expectant parents’ choices in regards to labor and delivery. First and foremost, remember that this child is not yours until all legal documents are signed. The expectant parents have every right to change their minds and express their wants and desires for the birth. If they don’t invite you in to the delivery room, don’t be offended. Know that this may be their only time together with their child.
Let the expectant mother invite you. I think it’s a great idea to sit down with the expectant parents prior to birth and let them tell you what their plans and desires are. Although plans could change, this provides everyone with an idea of how labor/delivery may go and what to expect. It may be helpful for your agency or attorney to be present to help facilitate a conversation. If the expectant mother doesn’t invite you to be present for the birth, let that be okay. She will be going through a lot of physical discomfort and heavy emotions during this time and may need some space and privacy.
Offer to hire professional support. If you’ve been able to develop a relationship with the expecting mother, get to know her and see if there’s anything you can offer that may make the remainder of her pregnancy more comfortable or aid her during labor and delivery. We offered to hire our daughter’s birthmother a doula, which is a person trained to offer guidance and support to a mother during labor and delivery. My daughter’s birthmother was excited to accept this offer. We also enabled her to visit our chiropractor weekly throughout the remainder of her pregnancy and she has always said how much better that made her feel.
Go with the flow if plans/desires changes. Pregnancy is emotional enough. But during labor and delivery, things get intense and it may not go as planned. Go with the flow. It may be difficult to sit back and let things unfold themselves. You may feel left out or irrelevant during time at the hospital when you have no rights to voice your opinions or desires. But this time is sensitive and it’s the adoptive parents’ role to follow the guidance of the birthparents and hospital staff, as hard as it may be.
Sometimes sitting beside her quietly is enough. Some adoptive mothers are blessed enough to be in the delivery room during labor and delivery. It can be such a wonderful, heartfelt experience. I loved watching my daughter’s birthmother labor but many times, I felt out of place and didn’t know what to do. I felt like she was working so hard and that I should be doing something, too! She wasn’t very talkative and didn’t offer me any direction so I got past my own awkward feelings and realized that sitting beside her silently was enough. I rubbed her back at times or just held her hand softly. We didn’t exchange many words but I knew my presence was enough.
Respect her desires post-delivery. Just like her labor/delivery desires, any parents deserve to have their desires respected after baby arrives. This is especially true in adoption situations. The parents may want private time with their baby and that sacred space should be respected.
Stay with the birthmother for as long as you can. Instead of whisking baby away and snuggling her on your chest in private, stay with the birthmother for as long as possible. She’ll need love and support more than ever. It was important to me that my child’s birthmother knew I cared for her deeply – not just the baby – and she was important to me. If you’re all in the hospital for multiple days, spend as much time in her room as you can and let her be with the baby if she desires.
If she’s open to it, take pictures together. Some of my most prized treasures are the photos we have of my daughter and her birthmother throughout those two days we were with her in the hospital. I will cherish those photos forever and my daughter will always be able to see us together and the love and joy on all of our faces. I know that some birthmothers won’t feel like taking pictures or feeling too emotional to to do and that’s understandable. But if you have moments where you’re all together, you’ll never regret asking.