The birth process is a little bit different when it comes to adoption. The physical aspects are the same, but the formalities and etiquette are quite different. As an adoptive parent, you are taking a backseat role in this process. You are there to offer your support as much as you are there to welcome your prospective child into the world. This can be challenging, especially with all the excitement that has been built up until this moment, but it is important to remember that the birth mother is in control at this moment and the most important thing is making sure she is comfortable and supported.
In most states, there is a 48-72 hour waiting period between birth and placement before the birth mother may relinquish her rights to the adoptive parents. This is a crucial time period for both sides of the adoption. It can be agonizing to wait knowing the birth mother may change her mind at any moment, just as it can be agonizing knowing you only have mere hours before you must hand your baby off to their new home. As the adoptive parents, you must understand that this is an especially difficult and emotional time for the birth mother and she will need all of the support she can get.
Every birth plan is different, which means that the process between birth and placement will look different for every family. Some birth mothers want the adoptive couple in the room with them while they give birth, others wait until the baby is born to let them know. Whatever she decides, make sure to respect her wishes. Now, essentially, once the birth mother gives birth there will be a waiting period before she can legally sign the relinquishment paperwork. This means that until the moment she signs that paper, she can change her mind. This can be extremely nerve-wracking for the adoptive parents, a time filled with complete uncertainty and anxiety.
Support Her Choices
As stressful as this time can be for you as the adoptive parent, it is tenfold for the birth mother. During this time, your role is to be supportive. This means supporting her decisions while in the hospital. She may choose to breastfeed during those few days of waiting and you should support her decision to do so. Not only is this a special moment for her to bond with the baby, it also has many health benefits. The concern for adoptive parents with the involvement of the birth parents once the baby is born, is usually that they will change their mind about parenting the child. While this can and sometimes does happen, showing the birth mother your support and interest in the well-being of the baby may ease her mind in her decision.
Just as with the birth plan, the waiting period before relinquishment should be agreed upon between birth mother and adoptive parents with the birth mother taking the lead. As the potential adoptive parent, you can offer your support by helping change diapers, holding the baby while she gets rest, or bringing her food. Even more so, this is the time when you will want to give her as much time as she wants and needs to be alone with her baby. She is making one of the biggest decisions of her life and you do not want her to feel pressured by your presence. Give her the space to say good-bye to her baby in the way she feels is best. This is the best thing you can do for your birth mother.
Communication is Key
One of the biggest fears that birth mothers have is that the family they choose will not hold up their end of the agreement. If you and your birth mom have chosen to have an open adoption, stick to that decision. Birth mothers are not a means to an end. They are mothers who are grieving. Even if she is certain in her decision, the loss that a birth mom feels is real. Honor her sacrifice by keeping your word about the contact and relationship that you have chosen to have, during and after.
Some birth mothers do not have the support system around them to help with the post-placement grief, which is why it is so important to make sure the time between giving birth and placement goes a positive way. The most important thing to her, and to you, should be what is best for the baby. Ideally, that would be a happy and healthy relationship between birth and adoptive parents, whether it is an open or closed adoption. Keeping the communication open throughout this process will make the transition from birth to placement easiest for both sides.
Adoption is Love
Adoption is beautiful in so many ways, but it is also heartbreaking. It is not easy, or full of sunshine and happiness. It is filled with tears and ache and disappointment. But what makes adoption so beautiful is its centeredness in love. A mother places her baby in adoption because she loves her. A mother chooses her baby from adoption because she loves her. Adoption is difficult for everyone involved, baby included, and there is no clearly right or wrong way to handle all the intricacies of it, but what matters most when you are choosing to adopt is that you recognize the birth mothers role in creating your family and surrounding her in abundant love.
Adoption Choices of Nevada
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Nevada. You may visit the website here or contact us by 775-825-4673 (Reno Office) or 702-474-4673 (Las Vegas Office). Our hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm PST.
Make an Impact
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Devon Thornton is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. She has recently moved from Orlando, FL to Clarksville, TN, and is pursuing her writing career with Adoption Choices and also writing personal essays in her free time. Devon is an avid reader and a big Harry Potter fan.
When she’s not curled up reading a book, you can find her somewhere on a hike or a camping trip. She loves her cat, Minerva, and considers herself a true animal lover. She hopes one day to publish a book of essays and to maybe meet J.K. Rowling.
Arielle, Lindsay. “5 Ways to Help a Birth Mother Heal After Placement.” American Adoptions Blog, 10 Aug. 2016, www.americanadoptions.com/blog/5-ways-to-help-a-birth-mother-heal-after-placement/.
Bailey, Kacey. “Planning Birth And Placement: Tips From A Birth Mom.” Adoption.com, 5 Sept. 2016, adoption.com/planning-birth-and-placement-tips-from-a-birth-mom.
Brenner, Natalie. “Placement From Birth: A Birth Mom’s Point of View.” Natalie Brenner Writes, Natalie Brenner Writes, 29 June 2018, www.nataliebrennerwrites.com/blog/placement-from-birth-a-birth-moms-point-of-view.
Outten, Leah. “Should a Birth Mom Breastfeed or Pump Before Placement?” The Guiding Star Project, 6 Feb. 2019, guidingstarproject.com/should-a-birth-mom-breastfeed-or-pump-before-placement/.
“The Adoption Process Through Birth Parents’ Eyes.” The Cradle, 5 Oct. 2018, www.cradle.org/blog/adoption-process-through-birth-parents-eyes.