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Your Ultimate Guide to the Adoption Hospital Experience

The big day is just about here. As you start to wonder what your adoption hospital experience will look like, you probably have a few questions about what to expect. To help put your mind at ease, check out this ultimate guide that has everything you need to know.

Because this guide is going to be pretty long, 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 her 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 her baby

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

  • And more

In every part of the hospital adoption process, the prospective birth mother is in charge. She also has the freedom to adjust what she wants the hospital stay to look like at any point, so it’s important for the 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 their own room. Otherwise, the adoptive family should expect to spend most of the time in her room.

After the delivery, the birth parents can sign the consent to the adoption. How long the prospective birth parents need to wait to complete this step will take 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 the prospective birth mother and will list her 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 are Adoption Agencies Responsible for in the Hospital?

The hospital stay can be one of the most emotional — and exciting — days in adoption. You’re probably rightfully anxious 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 an adoption agency will step in. Once the prospective birth mother fills out her adoption birth plan, the adoption specialist will distribute it everyone, including to the hospital staff and the adoptive family, so that they can be prepared and support her on this important day.

Depending on the situation, the adoption specialist can be there in person to offer emotional support to the prospective birth mother 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 and the consent forms.

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 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 travelling 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.

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 also included a section for any general questions about what adoptive parents and prospective birth parents need to know before traveling to the hospital.

Can the Hospital Help with Adoption?

If you’re thinking about making an adoption plan, then you’re probably wondering, “Do hospitals offer adoption services?”  

While the hospital staff will be involved in the adoption process, their role is normally to coordinate with the adoptive family’s and/or birth parent’s adoption agency. So, they won’t actually be the ones walking anyone through the adoption process. However, prospective birth parents who are considering adoption at the hospital and after delivery can ask a hospital social worker to help them find an adoption agency to start a same-day adoption. A birth parent could even call an adoption agency, such as American Adoptions, directly to ask for more information!

The situation is a little different, however, for hopeful adoptive parents wondering, “Are hospital case workers involved in adoption?” For those that haven’t started the adoption process yet, they will need to contact an adoption agency themselves. Hospitals usually won’t be able to arrange an adoption on their own, so the best option is to go through a licensed professional.

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 that the adoptive parents will likely be asked to spend a lot of time in her room with her and the baby. If she doesn’t want a lot of contact, then she might want the adoptive family to spend most of the time with the baby in the nursery or in a separate room. In some cases, the hospital will allow the adoptive family to have their own room, while means they’ll have 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 a lot of contact while she’s making her adoption plan, then change her mind after the birth and decide to have the baby in her own room. It’s important to be flexible and patient after you arrive at the hospital just in case plans change.

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 cute outfits for your little one

  • 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.

What Should You Do if You Encounter Anti-Adoption Hospital Staff?

Running into a hospital staff member who is unsupportive of adoption is the last thing you need on a day that is already so hectic and emotional. But it never hurts to be too prepared just in case it does happen. Below are just a few of our suggestions when it comes to dealing with anti-adoption staff:

  • Try to focus on the day itself: No matter where you go, there are always going to be people unsupportive of adoption. But please don’t let their comments ruin the entire experience for you. Remember to breathe deeply and focus on the people who are there to support you.

  • Let your adoption specialist or someone close to you know: If you hear an anti-adoption comment, it might be difficult to respond or correct that person in the moment. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep it yourself. You can always ask your adoption specialist or a member of your support system to speak up on your behalf. You deserve to feel comfortable on this incredibly important day.

How long does a mother who “gives a baby up” for adoption usually stay in hospital after 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 you live in, the birth parents might also 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 which state you live in, birth parents will have to wait a minimum of somewhere between 24 hours to a few days to signthe adoption paperwork.

If you are considering placing your baby for adoption, this is the point where you will absolutely want to make sure that adoption is the right choice for you. After staying in the hospital when “giving a baby up” for adoption, your adoption specialist and attorney will want you to take this time to really think over your decision. Because once you sign your consent to the adoption, and the period of revocation has passed, you won’t be able to change your mind and get your baby back. At this point, your parental rights have been terminated, and the adoptive parents are now your child’s legal guardians.

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 an adoption professional 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, your adoption specialist 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.

Placing a baby for adoption at the last minute can be stressful. But your adoption specialist will be there every step of the way to make the hospital adoption process as smooth as possible.


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 at any time 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. America Adoptions, Inc. 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.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

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Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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