You get the call. You hurry to gather your bags, get to the airport and to the hospital. Once you arrive, you now have a choice to make... to focus on yourselves and the baby, or look beyond yourself and focus your attention on the woman who is laying in the hospital bed broken hearted.
Let's talk about some things you can put into practice while you navigate this new, unknown territory.
1. Don't pressure her (guilt or coerce)- It is your job to put your emotions aside and love well. I know how badly you want to scream with excitement. There is a baby that has just been born. You have talked about this day, prayed about it and prepared for these moments. But, as much as you so badly want to wrap that baby in your arms and forget about everything going on around you, there is a woman who is experiencing one of the worst days she will ever walk through. Remember this baby is still hers. She has every right to take in these special moments as well, and as heartbreaking as it might be, she has every right to decide to parent. I would even encourage you to speak the words "We love you. We respect you and whatever decision you make. You make the best decision for you and your baby."
2. Respect her feelings- She may ask you to stay in the room with her. She may ask that you not come to the hospital until the papers have been signed. She may ask that you stay in another room at the hospital to spend time with the baby. She may ask you to help deliver the baby or be the first one to hold the baby. She may hold that time as a sacred moment for just her to remember by herself. Honor her. Love her. Be respectful.
3. Never invite family or friends- Don't invite your family and friends to the hospital unless your child's mom tells you she wants them there. Even then, let her lead the progression of how that takes place. Please understand this is her hospital experience first and we don't need to treat it as our own by inviting family and friends. Once TPR is signed and you have the baby home, they will have all the time in the world to bond with the new little one.
4. Prepare for the emotional "see ya later"- Adoption is hard. Bittersweet. Joyful. And full of so many other emotions. It involves grief and goodbyes or "see ya later's". Just remember that your most joyful day will be the day her heart is falling apart. Be sensitive to her emotions. Offer a safe space where she can share her thoughts and feelings with you if she desires. Grief is a normal part of this process. You will feel guilty for being the one who is "causing" her grief. Know this is part of the process.
5. Make plans- Before you leave the hospital, talk through what the next few months will look like. Reassure her you are not just there to take her baby and leave. Let her know that you have every intention of honoring your agreement. If she is able (and would like to), it might be helpful to go ahead and schedule a visit so she has a date in mind. Some families will even see their child's first mom again before leaving the state as you await ICPC. This can be helpful for the grieving process!
Whatever you do, do it from a heart full of empathy and compassion. The love you have for her and her child will show through your actions and words. Love well!
Written by Mallory Fogas, Owner of Arrow + Root
On IG and Facebook as - arrowandroot