God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life

The First 72 Hours

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The first 72 hours after birth can be the most trying moments of the adoption process. You’d think that wouldn’t be true, as there is a live child that’s ready for you, but there are so many things that are different for adoptive parents, and so much that can go wrong.

Here’s the facts: after the child is born, the birth mother can not sign over custody of the child for 72 hours. This gives the birth mother time to think about the decision, it’s especially hard with all the hormones from the birthing process.

Even if we have a prior relationship with the birth mother, and are on good terms, we cannot make any decisions in that first 72 hours.  She names the child, authorizes any tests, shots, etc.  If its a boy, she has the right to decide if he is circumcised or not.  If we’re lucky, she’ll have discussed them with us beforehand and respects our wishes.

Aside from the legal issues, is the hospital issues.  We cannot bring family or friends to the hospital.  There are many reasons for this.  First, the hospital does not have any obligation towards us.  They may be helpful and understanding, but birth mom and the child are the patients.  Birth mom will have her own family (hopefully) there to support her, and things will get too crowded with another set of family. Those issues are a matter of consideration on our parts.  The other reason that family and friends are discouraged is the resentment from the birth mother and her family.  Maybe birth mom is comfortable with her decision, but the family may not.  They may feel that you and your family are there to “take” their child away. Our agency has done many adoptions, and doesn’t make that recommendation lightly.

Now, if the baby is healthy, it’s typical  that they could get discharged after 48 hours.  Well, if my math is right, 48 < 72.  What happens then?  Some parents take the risk and take the baby home.  There are plenty of issues with this. You are not the legal caregiver at that point, and it will make things more difficult if she changes her mind at 71 hours.

These are just some of the issues.  We get 72 hours of “Will she, won’t she”.  Maybe the hospital will be supportive and helpful, maybe not.  There can be strained relations with birth mother family.  No one knows what will happen, we just have to be ready for anything.

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