Reading this month’s Adoptive Parenting magazine, there was a cute picture of a newborn baby…sleeping in a carry-on bag. See, the adoptive parents had travelled a distance to the birthplace, and were staying at a hotel. The sleeper that they purchased was missing a part, so they were unable to set it up. Rather, they emptied the bag, filled it with something soft and voila, a bed. The story made me think of our situation, and I don’t think that I’ve written about this part in depth. The day of, and the days after the birth, where are we?
We have it easy compared to other adoptive parents. The parent who do international adoption will travel there at least twice, and may stay multiple weeks waiting for approval/court time/etc. Some domestic adoptions occur in different states, so travel is required, along with more legal documents/proceedings. Even adoptions within states can be complicated. Had we been matched with a birth parent in Cleveland, we would be travelling there often.
However, we are lucky. Our birth parents are local, and the hospital is about 15-20 minutes away from home. At some point in December, she will go into labor, call us and we will meet her at the hospital. She’ll have her room, and any friends and family she want there. We will have two chairs in the lobby, most likely. At this point, you can think of us like friends or family of the birth mother. She’s in charge. If she’s ok with us in the room, we can be there. If she’s not comfortable, we’re out.
The stories we’ve heard about the hospital are wide ranging. Many couple has told of the wonderfully supportive hospital staff who provided the adoptive parents an extra room on a slow night to sleep in with their new child. We’ve heard a story of a birth mother who introduced the adoptive parents as “friends”, but wasn’t interested in seeing them. You can guess how that turned out. My personal favorite is the story of the potential father’s dad in the waiting room with a case that held a paternity test. Not awkward at all.
I think our relationship with the birth parents is pretty good right now. I don’t expect us to be in there during birth, but I do think we’ll be in the room at various points. This whole dance though can be very awkward though. Birth mom and birth dad could be very happy with us, but their friends and family may not. After all, we are there to “steal” their niece, their granddaughter. They don’t know if we’ll keep up our end of the bargain and keep things open.
Let’s assume that things go smoothly. Birthparents let us in the room to see our girl. They put our requested name on the birth certificate. They remain confident in their decision going forward. We get to go to those “how to put on a diaper” classes, and things are looking good. It’s now 48 hours, and the hospital now is ready to discharge birthmother and baby. Wait, birthmother is still the legal guardian!
This is a pickle. Birthmother cannot sign any paperwork unt il 72 hours. What now? There are two choices. 1. Take the baby home, grow attached beyond all belief, and trust that birthmother won’t change her mind in 24 hours, crushing you. Or, 2. The baby goes to foster care for 24 hours (or until the paperwork is signed), you protect your heart, do the most legal option, but lose 24 hours of bonding. Not an easy choice.