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Your Ultimate Guide to the Adoption Hospital Experience [Everything You Need to Know]

Your hospital experience can go exactly how you want it to because of a well-thought-out adoption hospital plan. 

Because this guide provides comprehensive information on the adoption hospital experience, you’ll probably have a few questions along the way. The good news is that we’re always happy to help answer them. Please fill out our form to reach out to an adoption professional today or call 1-800-ADOPTION to help prepare for the adoption hospital process. 

What Happens Before the Adoption at the Hospital? 

When the adoption process begins, the prospective birth mother will make a plan for what she wants the hospital stay to look like as a part of her adoption plan. She'll be the one to decide

  • Which members of her support team will be at the hospital 

  • If she wants to be the first one to hold her baby 

  • If she wants to take pictures with the adoptive family and/or her baby 

  • If she wants to give any special gifts or keepsakes to her baby 

  • If she wants the adoptive family to be in the room with her

  • And more 

If you are considering placing a baby for adoption, you are in charge of every part of the hospital adoption process. You have the freedom to adjust what you want the hospital stay to look like at any point, so we encourage adoptive parents to try and be flexible. 

What Happens When the Adoptive Family Arrives? 

When you are adopting or placing a baby for adoption, what to expect at the hospital can vary depending on the specific hospital’s policies and your unique adoption situation. In general, once the adoptive family arrives at the hospital, they should receive ID wristbands or badges. This way, they will have access to the maternity ward, the ability to see the prospective birth mother (depending on her wishes) and to see the baby in the nursery.

Depending on the hospital’s availability and what the prospective birth mother is comfortable with, the adoptive parents may have a private room. Otherwise, the adoptive family should expect to spend most of the time in your room. 

Katelyn and her husband Matt developed a strong relationship with their birth mother and were able to spend most of their time at the hospital in the room with her.

“We had a very unusual relationship with our birth mom,” Katelyn said. “We recognize that not everybody has that relationship where they can just sit in the hospital room and talk and be open, but we really love her.”

“She talked about her fears and we talked about ours, and there was this beautiful moment when we stopped filtering everything so much and being so afraid of saying the wrong thing, and we were just honest.”

After the delivery, you can sign the adoption paperwork. How long you need to wait at the hospital to complete this step will depend on the state you live in. The adoptive parents should also receive all of the baby’s medical records if a medical release form has been signed. Next, the adoption specialist will walk the adoptive family through the process of submitting their insurance for the baby.

The baby will also have two birth certificates. An original one, which is filled out and completed by you and will list yourself as the mother. And, after the adoption is finalized, an amended birth certificate, which the adoptive family will request with the help of their attorney. 

What is the Adoption Agency Responsible for in the Hospital? 

The hospital stay can be one of the most emotional — and exciting — days in adoption. You’re probably a little nervous about the day ahead, and if you’re like most people, you’re stressed out about what you need to take care of. 

That’s where American Adoptions will step in. Once the prospective birth mother fills out her adoption birth plan, her adoption specialist will distribute it to everyone, including the hospital staff and the adoptive family, so that they can be prepared and support the prospective birth mother on this important day. 

Depending on the situation, an adoption specialist can be there in person to offer emotional support for the hospital adoption experience. But regardless of where they are, the adoption specialist will check in a few times by phone to offer support. They will also be there to help answer any questions about adoption paperwork. 

To get more information on how your adoption specialist supports you at the hospital, call 1-800-ADOPTION

Adoption 101: What to Expect at the Hospital When “Giving a Baby Up” for Adoption 

The hospital stay is stressful enough for any new mother. But when you’re a new mother considering adoption, you’ll have a brand-new list of worries to think about. It’s common to wonder, “When you are giving the baby up for adoption, what happens at the hospital?” Remember, your adoption specialist will always help you create a hospital plan and walk you through all of your options for adoption at the hospital, so you can get answers to all of your questions and feel prepared going into the big day. 

However, to help answer a few of your questions, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common questions that expectant mothers have about the hospital adoption process: 

  • If you are giving your baby up for adoption, do you have to give it a name before it leaves the hospital? No, you do not have to give your baby a name before they leave the hospital, but you can if you would prefer. Often, the adoptive family names the baby themselves, and you can choose to put this name on the original birth certificate. If you’d like to choose a different name for your baby to put on their original birth certificate, then you certainly can, but you are under no obligation to do so if you feel uncomfortable. 

  • If you want to give your baby up for adoption, can you change your mind in the hospital? Yes, you can always change your mind about the adoption — even if you’re already at the hospital or if you’ve just given birth. If you start to feel this way, please let your adoption specialist know as soon as possible. 

  • When you give a baby up for adoption, do you take them home from the hospital? When you place your baby for adoption, the family will meet you at the hospital, so you won’t need to worry about taking your baby home if you don’t want to. 

Adoption 101: What to Expect at the Hospital for Adoptive Parents 

We can bet that you’re super excited to meet your baby. But you probably have a ton of questions when it comes to what to expect. Here are our answers to some of the most common ones: 

  • When should I get ready to travel? When the prospective birth mother goes into labor, you will receive the call from your adoption specialist giving you the go-ahead to travel. You’ll need to start traveling shortly after the call so that you can arrive at the hospital within 24 hours. 

  • What happens when my adoption is in another state? If your adoption is taking place in another state, be prepared to wait a bit until you can go home. Usually, ICPC will let you know that it’s okay to return home about 7-10 days after your hospital adoption. 

  • Is it better to fly or drive? The most important thing to do is to get to the hospital as soon as possible. Because of this, it’s a good idea to plan out your trip ahead of time to determine which would be quicker. If you’re thinking of flying, remember to factor in time for layovers. And if you’re driving, don’t forget to account for rush hour traffic. 

You can get more information on traveling to meet your new baby by calling 1-800-ADOPTION to speak to one of our adoption professionals. 

General FAQ 

We’re sure that you, like most people, have a lot of questions when it comes to the hospital adoption process. To make it easy, we’ve included a list of general questions about what adoptive parents and prospective birth parents need to know before traveling to the hospital. 

Where does the baby stay in the hospital when adopted? 

This will look a little different in every adoption. The first thing to think about is the prospective birth mother’s comfort level and what she listed in her hospital adoption plan paperwork. If she would like, she does have the option of having the baby in her room for the entire duration of the hospital stay. Naturally, this means adoptive parents will likely be asked to spend some time in her room with her and the baby.

If she doesn’t want much contact, then she might want the adoptive family to spend most of the time with the baby in the nursery or a separate room. In some cases, the hospital will allow adoptive parents to have their own room, which can give them more time to bond with the baby. 

Please remember that situations can and do change at the hospital. For example, the prospective birth mother might decide that she doesn’t want much contact while she’s making her adoption plan, then change her mind after the birth and decide to have the baby in her room. It’s important for adoptive parents to be flexible and patient after they arrive at the hospital just in case plans change. 

Contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION or fill out our free online information form to get more information on the hospital stay. 

What should you bring with you?

No one wants to be stuck packing at the last minute. Especially when your baby is on the way. But depending on whether you’re an adoptive family or a prospective birth mother, your list will look a little different. Here’s what you should try to include in your hospital bag for the hospital adoption process: 

Adoptive Families 

As an adoptive family, you’ll need to be prepared for your hospital adoption experience itself. But don’t forget about what you’ll need to get your little one safely home, too! To make your planning easier, here are some must-haves that every parent should bring: 

  • A bag or backpack with plenty of space 

  • A few outfits for the baby

  • A car seat (the hospital won’t let you leave without it!) 

  • A package of diapers 

  • Wipes 

  • A couple of blankets 

  • Formula or breastmilk from a milk bank 

  • Bottles 

  • A camera 

  • A carrier or baby wrap 

Prospective Birth Parents 

When you’re a prospective birth mother, you’ll want to make sure that you’re as comfortable as possible for your adoption and birth at the hospital. That’s why these are the must-have items to add to your hospital checklist

  • Your ID and insurance information 

  • A copy of your birth plan to distribute to hospital staff (your adoption specialist can help you with this!) 

  • Comfortable clothing 

  • Toiletries 

  • Books 

  • A tablet for easy reading or to watch your favorite show 

  • Slippers or socks 

  • A robe 

  • Chapstick 

  • Hair ties 

Like any checklist, you’ll want to make sure that you have everything you need ready to go at a moment’s notice before your hospital adoption experience. Babies tend to arrive on their own schedule, after all. You don’t want to realize that you’re missing your favorite robe while you’re in labor.  Gathering what you need ahead of time will ensure a smooth and easy hospital adoption stay. 

How long does a mother who “gives a baby up” for adoption usually stay in the hospital after the baby is born? 

It depends. Naturally, a woman who has just delivered a baby will need to spend some time in the hospital recovering from the delivery. Usually, she and the baby will be cleared for discharge at the same time, but there are some instances in which one is ready before the other.

For example, if a prospective birth mother has a cesarean-section, the time of discharge will be around 72-96 hours. In other cases, she might be ready to leave as soon as 24-48 hours after birth. How long it will be until you can leave is decided by the hospital and doctors, so there isn’t a way to speed it up. 

Depending on the state the baby is born in, the birth parents might sign the adoption paperwork in the hospital. This is an important step that must be completed before your baby can legally be adopted. Depending on state laws, birth parents will have to wait a minimum of somewhere between 24 hours to a few days to sign the adoption paperwork

What does the Last-Minute Adoption Hospital Experience Look like? 

The last-minute or same-day hospital adoption process will look a little bit different from other adoptions. If you are considering placing a baby for adoption when you’ve just arrived at the hospital or if you’ve already given birth, the process will go quicker for you. 

Like any other adoption, the first step is to contact one of our adoption professionals to create an adoption plan. In this outline, you’ll be able to decide what you’re looking for in an adoptive family, along with your level of openness. Once that’s done, we will start sending you adoptive family profiles that match what you’re looking for.

After you’ve found one that you like, they will be notified by their adoption specialist and will travel to you as quickly as possible. Once they arrive at the hospital, it will be time to start the process of placing your baby with the adoptive family. 

As you can see, there’s a lot to know about the hospital adoption process. If you have any questions about adoption and what to expect at the hospital, we’re always happy to answer them. You can give us a call 24/7 at 1-800-ADOPTION or reach out to your adoption specialist directly. 

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

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