The hospital stay is, in many ways, the culmination of a long and arduous adoption journey. Both the prospective birth mother and hopeful adoptive parents have waited so long for this moment. Each has imagined for months how it would feel.
Whatever those imagined scenarios were, they have been altered by the new reality ushered in by COVID-19. No one could have expected or planned for an unprecedented global pandemic. This historic event has impacted nearly every aspect of life, including much of the adoption process.
Your visit to the hospital — for labor and delivery as a prospective birth mother and for placement as an adoptive parent — is probably going to look different than the original hospital plan. One of the biggest changes may be your ability to be together at the hospital.
This can be heartbreaking for anyone in an open adoption relationship. Your physical presence with each other at the hospital was supposed to play a central role in the placement. Now, that may not be able to happen.
Do you find yourself — as a prospective birth mother or as an adoptive parent — in a position where you won’t be able to meet at the hospital? If so, this guide is for you. Our adoption specialists have been working hard to help families and prospective birth parents navigate this new challenge.
If you’re wondering whether or not meeting at the hospital will be impossible in your situation due to COVID-19, here are three things to consider, and three proactive steps to take to continue to grow your open adoption relationship.
Three Things to Consider
Will you be able to meet at the hospital like originally planned? The answer will be different for everyone. The best way to figure out what will happen in your specific situation is to speak with your adoption specialist. They can provide direct guidance and help create a new plan in light of COVID-19.
As you consider your personal situation, here are three things to consider that may impact whether or not you can meet in person at the hospital, or if it is a good idea to do so:
What are your hospital’s guidelines?
Each hospital has its own guidelines for social distancing in response to COVID-19. Some hospitals are still not allowing visitors, while others are, but only after a COVID-19 test has come back negative. Still others are more relaxed, allowing small groups of visitors and requiring that masks be worn.
The best indicator of whether or not you will be able to meet at the hospital will be your hospital’s specific guidelines. Work with your adoption specialist and healthcare provider to determine these.
How widespread is COVID-19 in your area?
The pandemic is a global reality, but it impacts every area differently. Is the hospital located in a city that has seen rapid spread of the virus, or an area that has escaped the worst impacts of COVID-19? Areas that have not experienced the widespread effects of the virus may have more relaxed hospital guidelines and lower risk for meeting in person at the hospital.
In addition to the prevalence of the virus in your area, you may also want to consider the level of exposure that everyone in your triad has. Is one of the adoptive parents an essential worker who is frequently in high-risk situations? If so, this increases the risk of being together at the hospital.
Does anyone in the adoption triad have increased health concerns?
Older individuals and those with preexisting conditions are at a higher risk for severe presentation of COVID-19 if they do become sick. Does that describe anyone in your adoption triad?
Even if you are not considered high-risk, it’s important to look out for others who are. If one of the prospective birth or adoptive parents is at a high risk for severe presentation, it may be best to not meet in person at the hospital.
Three Steps to Take
Where does that leave you? For many, meeting in person at the hospital will not be possible until COVID-19 cases decline significantly in the U.S.
We know how hard this can be. The hospital stay is one of the most important parts of the whole process. While nothing can make up for missing out on in-person interaction at the hospital, here are three steps you can take to continue building your open adoption relationship in spite of the restrictions imposed by COVID-19:
Video calls are a great way to get to know each other when meeting in person isn’t an option. It’s not a perfect substitute, and you may experience frustration along the way. But, it’s certainly better than nothing. Virtual “face to face” time can be a great way to deepen your relationship before placement.
Or, if you feel safe doing so, you could choose to meet in person before your hospital stay. Maybe the hospital guidelines don’t allow for visitors, but you feel personally safe enough to meet in a park or other large space without crowds. You could decide to continue with your pre-placement contact, strengthening your open adoption relationship. It won’t totally make up for missing out on the hospital stay together, but it can at least make it a bit easier.
If you do decide to meet, it’s still advised to follow social distancing practices, when possible.
Plan Meetings After
An open adoption relationship is only just beginning during pre-placement. Work proactively to plan meetings after placement, too. Knowing that there is more to come can help ease your disappointment about changing the hospital plan right now.
Call Your Specialist Today
Feeling confused, overwhelmed, or frustrated by the situation you are in? It’s understandable. The best thing to do is call your specialist. Together, you can create a plan to move forward with your process and make the most of the unfortunate situation we are currently living in.