Here’s the moment everyone has been anxiously anticipating. The woman who is planning to place her child with you is about to give birth.

Ack! It’s headless chicken time. A woman is about to have a baby! What do you do? What do you do?

Although boiling a pot of water seems to be the answer to that question every time it comes up on TV, the proper response in this circumstance is: Whatever she desires, that’s what.

If she wants you standing beside her coaching through the delivery while your husband records the event on camera, that’s where you’ll be. If she wants you pacing the hall with her mother, you’ll pace. If she wants you stuck at home until she’s ready to see you, you’ll be getting about your life as best you can, but with your cell phone never more than a centimeter from your grasp.

It’s possible that where she thought she’d want you before going into labor will not be the same place she actually wants you once labor has commenced. As best as you can, you must respect her wishes even if they are not part of what you knew as the plan. Of course, if she decides at the last moment that she wants you to cut the umbilical cord and you’re the type that passes out at the thought of splinter removal, you may have to give this some hard thought and try a bit of negotiation…or find yourself a crash helmet, just in case ‘woozie’ turns into ‘down for the count’.

It’s a baby … and you’re chopped liver

Soon, voilá, it’s a BABY! (That’s easy for me to say, but believe it or not, voilá isn’t actually a word often uttered with that final push. Maybe in France?)

Once again, it’s Mom’s call on what happens. The ball … the baby, the future of everyone involved … yep, that would be her court it’s in.

You’re pretty much chopped liver right now, so you need to be prepared for how powerless you will be over everything for a while. Go with the flow and take notes if you can. Within a few days this time will all be a blur and it won’t be easy to reconstruct events that you will be asked to recount for years to come.

Without a doubt, these will be some of the hardest days of your life.

Before you get carried away with just how hard it is to pass the hours knowing the baby is here, seeing him, perhaps holding him, but not yet being able to take him home– or even to legitimately call him your own– walk a mile or so in the mother’s maternity moccasins on a perspective hunt.

She’s just given birth, is sore and exhausted, AND is coming up to crunch time. There is no way these days will be anything but heartbreaking for her. Yes, soon everyone who’s anyone in this adoption will come face to face with that truth about adoption: adoption is as much about loss as it is about gain. No one, however, will experience this with the depth of emotion the mother will feel.

You may be having a few days of frustrated and anxious misery while waiting for the baby to come to you, but a lifetime of joy is just around that next bend.

Precious time

For the woman who brought this baby into the world a few minutes ago, these same days will be all the time she has for her child to be completely hers.

Writer and expert on adoption issues, birth mom Jan Baker, often speaks about the life-long suffering experienced by women after relinquishment.


One of my biggest gripes…is [when some people] make placing a baby for adoption appear as a one-time event that you will ‘get over’ or experience some mild sadness throughout a lifetime, making it seem as though knowing that your child has a ‘better’ life will make up for losing them. [That] rarely does anything to ease the pain. Most birth moms that I know…are blindsided by the deep and unrelenting pain that relinquishing causes. It is unexpected, and when they do not “get over it” as they are told they should, they think something’s wrong with them, and that other birth mothers do just fine.”

Of course, if you have any concerns about where everyone stands in your adoption plan, you’ll want to bring these up. If you can address them with the mother, that will be the place to start. If you need to hear more, don’t hesitate to contact your agency, your attorney, or her attorney for information and assurance.

Good-bye before Hello

In addition to the flowers you’ve brought for the new mother (a mini-forest is appropriate, unless she’s allergic) a special gift may help to convey your feelings when the time comes for you to take the baby home with you, leaving her behind.

Keepsake jewelry signifying the relationship between your family, the child you have in common, and her may serve to communicate your emotions– but as every situation is as different as every child, a fitting gift can come in just about any form.

Gifts are lovely gestures, but there will be no filling the void left when you go. Counseling beforehand can help prepare all involved and ease the transition a bit, but no one will be able to make this moment better for the woman who at this point in the process becomes a birthmother.

If arrangements have been made for contact or visitation, honor these as you would a promise made to your child, and do not allow the rush of emotion or the flurry of excited activity to dampen your dedication to the woman who gave birth to your new baby.