This guest post is by Leah Campbell, an adoptive mother and writer.
On the day my daughter was born I sat in the hospital lobby, waiting for news that she had entered the world.
During her pregnancy her birthmother and I had talked about how this day would go and I respected the fact that she did not want me, or anyone else, in the room with her during labor.
I had always believed that decision was solely hers to make, and I never questioned her when she outlined for me how she wanted to handle the day.
After our daughter was born, she said she wanted a few moments to look at her, but did not want to hold her, and then she wanted our little girl to be brought quickly to me.
So I waited, clueless about what was happening in the delivery room, until a nurse came out and said, “She’s changed her mind. She’s asking if you would come in to see your daughter being born.”
I sobbed when I heard that. I was so thankful she was allowing me to be there for her. My heart had ached over the idea of her laboring alone.
I held her hand during the labor and together we wept at the birth. After our little girl was weighed and swaddled, she asked me if she could change her mind and hold her.
“Of course,” I said, and I placed our little girl immediately in her arms.
Then we spent the next several hours huddled together in the recovery room, passing our daughter back and forth, laughing, crying, and embracing the complex emotions that surrounded the day.
If you’re an expectant mother considering adoption, I’d like to share some of the things I learned from my hospital experience and my discussions about it with my daughter’s birthmother.
1. Be Honest About What You Want
Placing a child for adoption is an incredibly difficult decision, no matter how resolved you may feel in this choice.
So give yourself room to grieve and process your emotions however you need to.
Most adoptive parents would jump at the chance to be in the delivery room with you when their child enters the world.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea, either because you’re modest or concerned about how emotional you may be, don’t feel obligated to go through with it.
It is perfectly acceptable for you to explain that you don’t want them there while you labor.
In fact, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell them you don’t want them at the hospital at all, and that you need a few hours (or days) to say goodbye to your baby yourself.
2. Know That Sometimes Things Change
I know for a fact that my daughter’s other mother never had any intention of inviting me into the delivery room.
But at the height of her pain and the emotional roller coaster of her labor, she decided she wanted me there and I was beyond grateful to be asked.
So just know that no matter how you think you may want things to go before the labor, there is plenty that can change on the day of the birth.
And of course, it can go either way — whether you want the adoptive family to be more involved in the delivery or less involved — depending on how you feel.
3. Listen to Your Gut
So much can change on your delivery day. Emotions can be incredibly intense and you may be struggling with conflicting feelings.
You may even decide, once your baby is in your arms, that you don’t want to pursue adoption after all.
Yes, a failed adoption can be an incredibly painful experience for an adoptive family.
But it’s not as painful as placing a child and then realizing that you didn’t want to or need to. Adoption is never a good thing if the biological mother goes on to regret her decision.
There are numerous reasons to place a child. It’s painful, but if you’re confident in your decision, it is the right one for you.
Listen to your gut after your child’s birth. None of your decisions are final until the court says so.
My daughter’s birth was one of the most incredible days of my life. But it was also one of the most emotionally complicated.
I was painfully aware of the contrast between my joy and her other mother’s grief and loss.
My heart ached for her, and I would have done just about anything to make the process easier for her.
So please know that the parents hoping to adopt your child recognize the sacrifice you are making and want to ease your pain wherever they can.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for whatever you need to navigate the complex emotions of the day. Counselors and other support options are always available to you.
Remember that your delivery day is just one day. And that no matter what happens on that day, it doesn’t have to be the last day you see your child. Take control while you can.
Leah Campbell is a writer for Adoption Makes Family, an adoption agency in Maryland. She has travelled the world and written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption, and parenting. A single mother by choice after a serendipitous series of events led to the adoption of her daughter.
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