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The specialists at American Adoptions have been fielding a lot of questions from adoptive families during this time of heightened uncertainty. In “Questions from Adoptive Families,” we’ll address some of the questions we’ve received, and hopefully preemptively answer questions for future waiting families, particularly about COVID-19.
First up: Some adoptive parents who have recently received placement of a new baby have been met with a request that surprised them: A friend or family member of the birth mother has asked to meet them and the baby while they wait for ICPC clearance.
Your initial reaction may be one of fear, worry or even a bit of possessiveness.
So, if the birth mother’s friends or family members have asked if they can see you and the baby before you return home, you may be hesitant about accepting that request.
But, it’s a request that we strongly urge you to grant. Here’s why:
COVID-19 Has Changed Hospital Visitor Policies. This Affects Birth Mothers.
Because of the current hospital protocols regarding COVID-19, women who recently gave birth and placed their baby with you are not allowed visitors during their hospital stay. Their own children, parents, siblings, or potentially even the father of the baby may not have been permitted to hold her hand throughout labor, or to see the baby.
Under “normal” circumstances, these important people would be able to visit the birth mother and baby in the hospital — typically as the woman waits the required amount of time to issue her consent to the adoption. But because of COVID-19 hospital safety protocols, many of the most important people in a birth mom’s life weren’t able to meet the baby, meet the adoptive family, or say “goodbye for now” to a beloved child.
What Does This Request Mean?
As an adoptive parent, hearing that the baby’s biological family members or the birth mother’s friend would like to see the baby as you wait for ICPC clearance may trigger a knee-jerk reaction of fear. You may be wondering things like:
- “Does this mean that she’ll revoke consent?” No. She just wants the most important people in her life to meet her baby, and you!
- “If these family members get emotionally attached, will they try to stop the adoption?” Like the biological mother, these loved ones were already emotionally attached to this child — and saying “goodbye for now” is an important moment of closure. Remember: Family members don’t have legal rights to the child. They can’t stop the adoption, but they also don’t want to.
- “Is this unusual?” No. It’s common (and healthy) for biological family members to see the baby before he or she is placed with their family. But with COVID-19 protocols, this wasn’t able to happen in the hospital like it does in many situations.
- “Can’t I have alone time to bond with my baby?” Adoptive families must remember that their child is (and always will be) connected to their biological family through adoption. As you welcome this child into your life, the birth family is saying goodbye. You get to spend the rest of your lives loving this baby, and there will be plenty of time to bond when you return home and quarantine.
- “Why should I have to share these early moments with strangers?” These people love the baby and want to meet the parents who will be raising this child. This is their chance to be reassured that this child will be loved and cared for.
Why Do They Want to See the Baby (And You)?
For the birth mother’s support system, this may be their only opportunity to see this child in person. They want to be reassured that the baby will be OK! And, they want to be able to picture this baby with his or her parents: You.
As an adoptive parent, it can be hard to share these precious first moments with anyone, let alone with people you don’t know. And, you may be worried that their request to meet you and the baby signals regret or resistance to the adoption.
But, allowing these loved ones a moment to both celebrate and grieve is incredibly important for everyone involved. Their opportunity for emotional closure ordinarily happens during the pregnant woman’s hospital stay. But with the current COVID restrictions, these loved ones must now wait until the baby has been released from the hospital and into your care.
How Should You Facilitate this Meeting?
Contact your American Adoptions specialist! They’ll be able to answer any questions you may have, they can help coordinate between the birth family and yourself, and they’ll offer you some tips to ensure a positive experience for everyone.
The birth grandparents, biological siblings or other loved ones may want to hold the baby — during a pandemic, this can make new parents a little anxious. As you know, you’ll all be doing a lot of hand-washing and mask-wearing! When you’re at the hospital, ask your baby’s doctor about additional ways to protect the health of newborns before, during and after placement. This will be helpful not just for potential meetings with the birth mother’s loved ones, but for your travels home and navigating caring for a baby during a pandemic.
We understand that adoptive families experience a lot of emotions before, during and after placement. In the midst of your own overwhelming emotions, it can be hard to make room for the emotions of the baby’s birth family. But adoption, for both the birth and adoptive families, is all about opening one’s heart to more people. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it!
Remember: Your American Adoptions specialist will be there to support and guide you if you do receive this request from the birth mother’s loved ones.
Check back here for more Questions from Adoptive Families!