I sat in the lobby the day my daughter was born, just waiting for news that she had entered the world. Her other mommy and I had talked about how this day would go ahead of time, and I respected the fact that she did not want me (or anyone else) in the room with her during labor. I had always believed that was a decision that was solely hers to make, and I never questioned her when she outlined for me how she wanted to handle this day.
- She would labor on her own as I waited in the lobby.
- When our daughter was born, she wanted a few moments to look at her, but did not want to hold her.
- After that, she wanted our little girl to be brought quickly to me.
So I waited in that lobby, feeling much like a 1920’s husband, clueless about what was happening in the delivery room.
Until a nurse came out and said, “She’s changed her mind. She’s asking if you would come in to see your daughter born.”
And I sobbed. Both because I hadn’t been expecting this gift, and because I was thankful she was going to allow me to be there for her – my heart had ached over the idea of her laboring alone.
It wasn’t long after that when our daughter was born. I held her hand through the labor and we wept together at the birth. After our little girl was weighed and swaddled, she asked me if she could change her mind and hold her now – I, of course, placed our little girl immediately in her arms. We then spent the next several hours huddled together in the recovery room, passing our daughter back and forth, laughing, crying, and embracing the complex emotions that surrounded this day.
I would like to share my thoughts with you from the perspective of an adoptive mother. As I have talked it over with my daughter’s other mommy extensively before, during, and after the birth, I have a few tips I’d like to share with birth mothers thinking about this very moment:
- Be Honest About What You Want: Placing a child for adoption is an incredibly difficult decision, no matter how resolved you may feel in this choice. So give yourself some room to grieve and process however you need to. I don’t know many adoptive parents who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be in the delivery room when their child enters the world, but I do know that you shouldn’t invite them to join you because you feel in any way obligated to have them there. If you are a modest person, or are concerned about how emotional you may be during the birth, it is perfectly acceptable for you to explain that you don’t want them there while you labor. It is even perfectly acceptable for you to tell them you don’t want them at the hospital at all, that you would rather have a few hours (or days) to say goodbye to your baby yourself.
You set the rules here. Just be honest about what you want.
- Know That Sometimes, Things Change: I know for a fact that my daughter’s other mother never had any intention of inviting me into the delivery room. But at the height of her pain and emotional roller coaster of a labor, she decided she actually wanted me there. And I was beyond grateful that she was willing to ask for me. So just know that no matter how you think you may want things to go before the labor, there is plenty that can change on the day of – including you deciding that you would rather not have the adoptive family in the delivery room with you after all.
- Listen to Yourself: It is also possible that once your baby is in your arms, you will realize you don’t actually want to pursue adoption. Those post-birth emotions can be incredibly intense, so you may not know what to believe in the hours following the birth of your child. But know that adoption is never a good thing if the biological mother goes on to regret her decision to place. Yes, a failed adoption can be an incredibly painful thing for an adoptive family, but not as painful as placing a child for adoption only to realize you didn’t have or want to. There are numerous reasons to pursue adoption, and if you are confident in your decision, no matter how painful it may be, then it is the right thing to do.
Listen to yourself and your gut in the days following the birth of your child. None of your decisions are final until the court says so.
My daughter’s birth was one of the most incredible days of my life. But it was also one of the most emotionally complicated. I was painfully aware of the juxtaposition of my joy against her other mother’s grief and loss. My heart ached for her, and I would have done just about anything to make this process easier for her. So please know that the parents hoping to adopt your child recognize the sacrifice you are making and want to ease your pain wherever they can. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you need to navigate the complex emotions of the day. Counselors and other support options are always available to you.
And remember that this is just one day; no matter what happens, it certainly doesn’t have to be the last day you see your child. You’re in control. If you ever need to talk to someone, we are here for you 24/7. Just give us a call: 410-683-2100.