It is ideal for expecting parents and prospective adoptive parents to make plans for the hospital ahead of time. The truth is that it is unrealistic for all our plans to go exactly, well as planned. Being a parent means knowing how to collect yourself and move forward when an initial plan goes awry, including the hospital plan. At the hospital previously made agreements like who is in the hospital room when the expecting mother goes into labor can change instantly. In general, it is easy to grow impatient when plans keep changing.
The moment you start to feel “on edge” with all the hospital plan changes, acknowledge your feelings first and then take a deep breath. Do not take it personally when an adoption counselor or social worker calls you to wait a few more extra hours to return to the hospital. None of these changes are made from a malicious standpoint. It is helpful to take a moment and remember the birth parents are going through their own mental, physical, and emotional journey as well, so when changes are made there is a reason.
The moment you arrive at the hospital you may get the urge to jump for joy and call up your family to rush over to the hospital as well. It is perfectly fine to be excited and say “wow I’m a dad now” or “I’m a mom now”, but think about the other moms and dads who are there. By “other moms and dads” we mean the birth parents.
Don’t misunderstand us the birth parents are beyond happy to meet their baby, but of course, it is bittersweet. For obvious reasons, the birth is bittersweet for the biological parent because at the end of the day someone else will be taking their baby home. Show respect by not questioning their request to be alone with their newborn for a longer time period, give the baby his/her first bath, change his/her first diaper, etc.
An important fact to remind yourself as a prospective adoptive parent in the maternity ward is that you are still just a prospective adoptive parent. Until the birth parents sign their consent to forfeit their parental rights they are still the legal guardian of their newborn.
Showing the birth parents support at the hospital goes hand-in-hand with showing them respect. Think about what you say to birth parents during this emotional time as they hold their infant whom they are about to place into your care. Asking questions such as “are you sure you’re certain about placing your baby for adoption?” is not helpful during this hard time. A way to support your baby’s birth parent is to be a person they can confide in and talk openly to about how they are feeling mentally and emotionally, both during and after the baby is born.
The plans you and the expecting parent make for the day the baby is born may not occur precisely the way all of you imagined it to go. The general rule of thumb is to be flexible, show respect, and support no matter the circumstances. Regardless of how the day at the hospital unfolds, displaying commendable behavior is what is best for your family, which now includes your son/daughter and their birth family.