Arriving at the hospital with the anticipation to meet your new baby is, for most parents, a time filled with insurmountable joy. It’s a time that you have been anxiously awaiting, and your friends and family are probably making you meals, sending flowers, and potentially coming to the hospital to greet this new baby of yours.

If you are building your family through domestic infant adoption, everything will be very different. Here are 4 things to expect when you are matched with an expectant woman who is considering an adoption plan at the hospital.

1. It is NOT about you.

The hospital staff, doctors, nurses, and everyone will do a really good job of not knowing how to talk to you or what to do with you either. Aside from being more or less uneducated about adoption plans in general, these professionals need to be caring for the expectant woman. This is not your time. Even if you are invited to be a part of the birth of this woman’s child, this birth is the expectant woman’s experience. What she has written in her plan, if she was able to make one, may change with labor complications or other unpredictable health concerns.  It is not your time to watch your child come into the world. It’s your time to support a woman who has carried a child for nine months in her body and will now endure traumatizing heart break. This time in the hospital is all about her.  It is a very, very complicated time for you, but all the focus needs to be on her.

2. Plans change.

If the expectant woman invites you to be a part of her hospital and labor experience with her, it is still all about her.  Making a hospital plan is a great way for an expectant woman to communicate what she wants during labor and her hospital stay. It is, however, a plan made with the information she has at that time. Maybe the expectant father, who was previously not interested, shows up for the birth. She may want him to be more involved with the labor, and that may mean you will play a lesser role. Or more of the extended (potential) birth family would like to see the baby before being discharged from the hospital. Or, in my case, your husband could be at the dentist. The expectant woman you are matched with can go into labor two weeks early, over an hour from where you are, and you could miss the whole birth all together.

A lot can happen at the hospital. A lot does happen at the hospital. Realize when/if you receive a copy of the intended plan and your role, that things can and do change. Be open, graceful, and understand that it is not about you. It is all about the expectant woman doing her best to bring her child into the world.

3. It’s not the same.

The hospital plan is a milestone of sorts in any domestic infant open adoption. I remember waiting anxiously to see what my son’s birth parents wanted our role to be, if any.  I also remember all of my bio parent friends telling me how I had to be in the room. How I had to see my child’s first breath and cut the umbilical cord.  They were all misty eyed, reliving the moments when they first laid eyes on their precious child. The miracle of it all.

Your experience will not be like that. It will be a miracle. You will fall apart at the profound realization of what has to happen for you to be this child’s mommy.  It will be very complicated emotionally. All of this will be going on with an audience of social workers, case workers, attorneys, hospital staff, and the grieving birth family.  It’s going to be complicated and overwhelming.

4. Don’t sweat it.

As I said in number 3, when an expectant woman makes a hospital plan, it’s going to be a big deal to you.  As hopeful adoptive parents, we assign a lot of meaning to how involved the expectant woman wants us to be. If she wants us more involved at the hospital, it a sign she is going to place her child. If she wants space at the hospital, she may not want to place her child.  Aside from our own assigned meaning, the well-intended bio parents around us are also feeding into what it means to experience those first firsts. I remember feeling like less of a mother if I wasn’t in the room when my son was born. Even my support people were telling me that I had to be in the room like it would prove something.

The hospital plan is what the expectant woman wants. It’s what she thinks is best for her and her child. It has nothing to do with you.  It has nothing to do with how much of a parent you can be or will be. It is just another example on how building your family through domestic infant adoption is different.

The hospital is a very real and raw time when adoption is involved. I would strongly encourage you to read everything you can about what other people have experienced. It will help to have some idea of how many conflicting emotions you may have.

Two families coming together over the love of one child that will bind them for life is a powerful force and it all comes at once in the hospital.

Are you ready to pursue a domestic infant adoption? Click here to connect with a compassionate, experienced adoption professional who can help get you started on the journey of a lifetime.