This post is by Maxine Chalker, the founder of Adoptions From The Heart and an adoptee.
The day of your hospital stay will be emotional and emotions are something most of us just can’t control.
The practical aspects of your hospital stay, on the other hand, are completely in your control.
Most expectant parents work in close collaboration with their social workers to develop an adoption hospital plan, outlining exactly how they envision the hospital stay going.
Hospital plans are designed to ensure that an expectant parent’s wishes are known and honored.
You can think about your hospital plan as a detailed message to the hospital staff, your adoption agency and your child’s adoptive family.
Hospital plans often cover practical aspects of delivery, like whether or not you are comfortable receiving pain medications, but also help to structure interactions with your child’s adoptive family.
Adoptive families are only allowed to visit you and your child in the hospital with your permission.
You have every right to opt out from interacting with the adoptive family during your hospital stay.
As in every aspect of the adoption process, your comfort is the most important thing to consider.
You shouldn’t feel any pressure to please other people.
Giving birth is one of the most intimate and vulnerable experiences that anyone will ever go through.
Do what’s right for you and your baby.
Here are some of the questions that most expectant mothers consider to create their hospital plans:
- Do you want members of the adoptive family to be in the delivery room? If so, who do you want to hold your baby first?
- Would you like members of your support system to be with you at the hospital?
- Do you want to spend time with your baby without the adoptive family present?
- Would you like to name your baby yourself or give your baby the name that the adoptive family has picked out?
- Would you like to feed your baby? If so, do you want to breast- or bottle-feed?
- Do you want the adoptive family to help you care for your baby in the hospital?
- Would you like pictures to be taken of you with your baby?
- Do you want to sleep in the same hospital room as your baby?
- How long do you want to stay in the maternity ward after delivery?
- Are there any mementos, like your baby’s hospital bracelet, that you’d like to bring home from the hospital?
- Would you like to leave the hospital before or after your baby does?
- When would you like to sign your relinquishment papers?
- Are you comfortable leaving the hospital with your child’s adoptive family?
Remember that your preferences might change over time.
Most expectant parents begin considering parts of their hospital plan well in advance of delivery, but few have settled on finalized plans until about a month before their due date.
Things can change. Our comfort level with various scenarios is no exception, so keep an open mind.
As time passes, and you get to know the adoptive family, your thinking could evolve.
Your social worker will prove to be an invaluable resource when you are creating your hospital plan.
We all need help processing our emotions and the feelings stirred up by the adoption process can be extremely difficult.
At Adoptions From The Heart, we’ve learned that labor and delivery can be major sources of anxiety for expectant parents who have made adoption plans.
Your hospital stay is a unique moment, one that can’t be changed after it’s over. Careful planning ahead of time can make sure that your voice is heard and respected.
Maxine Chalker is the founder of Adoptions From The Heart and an adoptee.
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