Ask the Adoption Coach: The Birth of Your Baby

Newborn baby on birthmother chest
Reader: My Husband and I are adopting a baby who will be born the beginning of April, we want to be present for the birth of the baby. We are in Illinois and the birth Mom is in Florida, our problem is trying to figure out what to do if she should go in labor before the scheduled C-Section. We have figured out flying will probably be the best but if she goes into labor early then what? Any suggestions?
Adoption Coach:
Dear Reader:
Thank you for your question! First, one thing that is important to clarify is if the expectant mother wants you present at the hospital when the baby is born. You shared that you wish to be present, but is it part of the mother’s plan for you to be there?
Many agencies work with expectant mothers who are making adoption plans by asking them to create a hospital plan. This plan might include who can be in the delivery or operating room, who she wants to cut the umbilical cord or be the first to hold the baby, if the baby will room with her or elsewhere, etc. Oftentimes, this plan is not created until the expectant mother is fairly close to her due date.
Please keep in mind that though there might be a plan in place, the expectant mother has the right to change her plan at any point. Giving birth is an intimate and emotional experience for many women, and perhaps the experience is even more intense when that mother is considering placing her child for adoption. Furthermore, having a baby is physically demanding, and a mother may decide she needs to change her hospital plan in order to begin healing.
If the expectant mother expresses that she does want you present for the birth of the baby, there are a few things you can do in advance to make your possible spur-of-the-moment travel less hectic. First, you can have your bags packed or create a list of items you plan to take, so if you get a surprise phone call, you can quickly pack your bags based on the list. Because you are adopting from another state, you will have to await ICPC approval to take the baby from his or her birth state and enter into your home state. This process can take just a few days to several weeks. Therefore, you should plan to take enough of your own items (clothing, toiletries, medications) to span a two-week period or longer. Of course, many baby essentials can be purchased once you arrive in Florida. And some items are best to purchase after you have the baby and know the child’s preferences (such as with bottles, pacifiers, and formula). Items to be sure not to forget: your camera and battery charger, cell phone charger, laptop, and important paperwork (such as a copy of your home study).
Second, you can maximize the time you have now to prepare for your trip. You can map out your route to your local airport and from the airport in Florida to the hospital and to your chosen accommodation. You can also pre-select your accommodation in Florida: doing research on location, rooms, amenities, and nearby restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions. (It’s a good idea to select a hotel suite where there is typically a separate bedroom space and some degree of kitchen appliances.) Because you have to wait for ICPC approval, you will likely have some spare time on your hands, and certainly, sitting in a hotel room for days or weeks on end can make a family go stir-crazy. You can also do some research on airlines, flight prices and availability of flights, particularly non-stop flights. While you have the best of intentions to make it to the hospital in time for the child’s birth, the reality is that many factors such as flight times, the weather, road construction, and personal illness can unexpectedly create delays.
Third, you can work with your adoption professional to discuss the options you have while the mom and baby are still in the hospital. Is there a private room where you can spend time with the baby? What if the baby is in the NICU? Are you allowed to visit the baby in the NICU? Do adoptive parents require any special paperwork or security clearances to be in particular areas of the hospital with or without the baby? Before making any tentative plans, remember that it’s the expectant mother who is allowed to make these decisions and that her plan may change at any point. Also, you didn’t mention the baby’s father, but he may have a role in making some of these decisions as well.
Being matched is certainly an exciting time for waiting adoptive parents, but it is also an anxious time. It is normal to feel nervous, confused, and cautious. I encourage you to be honest about your feelings while being ever-mindful that the child belongs to the mother until and if she chooses to terminate parental rights.