What advice would you give to women placing a child for adoption who is planning her hospital experience?

AMANDA

So when I was going to the hospital, I had just started having the contractions and was going into labor and it was actually during school hours but at this point I wasn’t in school anymore and so we basically called my whole family, I have a really big family, just to let them know it was happening. My sister made her way up to the hospital just after we had gotten there, we also called the adoptive family because they lived about a 2 hour drive from the hospital so that way that they could come up and also the baby’s father’s family, we let them know as well. So, during the labor process it was just me and my immediate family and later that night as they were giving me epidural and settling me into the delivery room, the adoptive family came, and for the most part they stayed out but when it was time to go into the labor I had my sister and my mom and the adoptive mother come into the room for that part of the process.

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I wanted everyone to be there to make it feel a bit more like a celebration rather than this thing where I was giving my child away to someone else so it ended up… it felt like a big celebration and it felt like what you would want for a child when they’re welcome into the world. Although initially I didn’t plan for that, I had in my mind I had thought that I would go into it and I will deliver by myself. I didn’t want anyone in the room and my sister was the one who talked me out of that and I’m really glad that she did because I think it would have been so much harder to try to go at it alone and to carry that burden by myself. I did really like the fact that they were there for me and kind of just cheering me on through this process because that’s what I think every birth mother needs is people to cheer her on and tell her to keep going through it because it’s not easy.

We were in the hospital for 3 days, that was I guess the standard time that they keep you in and so during that time I had lots of my friends coming and the families and so each time that people came to visit, we bring my daughter out and everyone would kind of just get a chance with her. It was just this little bit of time that I think was really helpful for everyone to just kind of feel like they were a part of it and that they were all kind of in it with me to be able to place her with a new family and place her into a family that was really going to look after her and care after her and it was nice. It was good.

But I think it came to the point where it was time to go home and that was the hard bit. At that point, my friends had left and the adoptive family stayed and my family stayed, the father’s family they weren’t there at that point, and I think for that it was right. It just was kind of like an intimate moment between us really, there were tears and it was probably the most difficult part of the whole thing was those final moments right before I left the hospital because I handed over my daughter to her adoptive mother and that was it. That was… you know, they were gonna take her home and I was gonna go home without a baby but it was everything that it should have been, I think. In my mind, I think, that’s how it… it felt right, that was the way it should have gone. So for any mother who is planning her birth experience, I would say just to really consider what you want because what you want is really important. It’s nice to include everyone else but make sure that you’re taking care of yourself, that you are just really okay. That you’re comfortable with everything that’s happening, that’s the important thing, you need to be comfortable whatever it is you decided to do. It needs to feel right to you.

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LEAH OUTTEN

Well with my daughter’s birth, she was induced on her due date so that made it easy for everyone to travel to us. I had family coming to me for support and I had her family coming and they were 2-3 hours away and so that ensure that everybody could be in the right place and make it in time and that was really important for me. So we all spent the day at the hospital together and her family would come in during labor whenever I was resting and we would just sit and chat and they went shopping while I was in labor for her nursery décor that they’d let me picked out which was really special and sweet of them and when the time came to push, I did not have them in the delivery room but I’m pretty sure they were nearby.

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They’re at least in the hospital kind of waiting for the news- but it was important for me to kind of have my time with her first and to be with my family and my support and cause it’s a very vulnerable physical time, I didn’t wasn’t comfortable sharing physically but then I know when she was born I had my time with her and probably at least an hour or so, I’m just getting to study her and talk to her and just tell her how much I love her and I remember when she came out, looking at her and thinking and feeling like, this is her, this is their daughter, she is meant for them. That was really encouraging to my decision, and I just had that assurance again when seeing her in person too. And I remember bout – I kind of burst together but at some point at that night after she was born, her parents came in to meet her for the first time and I distinctly remember her dad holding her for the first time and just a tear falling down her face and I can just remember thinking how lucky she is to have a dad that already love her so much and that because of adoption she gets to have that fatherly role into her life and that just means so much to me and yeah, I would always treasure those moment of watching them bond for the first time and that I was a part of that and I get to give them that. It’s really special.

So we were probably in the hospital 3 or 4 days together and I had a birthmom that drove down 13 hours to be by my side during that process too. So I had my friends, I had my birthmom friend, I had my family, I had my social worker, I had her adoptive parents all there so I just felt very love and I had every comfort and support I needed. It was really, I really enjoyed that visit. And I knew it was going to be hard leaving but I really treasured those days together when all of us were together and we’re all there for one reason, to welcome this little girl and to pass her on to a new family.

And one night her adoptive mom stayed the night for me in the hospital so it was a really good bonding time for us and to get to know each other more and just do fun girly things and just share her and just kind of a good little visual of what we would be in the future in that one little room of just two moms loving on her. It was just- we- I left the hospital empty armed and it was very hard. You know, you just want to go through the grieving process but I still have that peace and assurance that she was where she was meant to be and one thing that meant a lot to me too was that her adoptive parents sat down before I sign the papers and said, “If this isn’t what you want, we will be okay, you don’t have to do this for us.” It’s like a no pressure, like, “She’s your daughter, it’s your decision.We will be sad but we’ll get over it because when she’s meant to be with you then she’ll be with you.” And you know it was just a nice gesture of them to not feel like, “You have to do this! I want your baby.” It was very much they loved me as much as they loved her and that’s still true today that they’re an extended part of my family and they love on me as much as they do her so I would just think her adoptive parents in that way, to not just think about the baby but think about the birthmom that the baby’s coming from and her feelings and loving on her and she’s a big big role in the process.

I have two things for an expectant mom that is making a hospital plan and deciding on adoption. One, keep positive people around you. Like I had my friends and my family and if you don’t then I would highly suggest an adoption doula that can help you physically through labor, you know, giving you the things you need physically and supporting you or massaging your back, or getting you water or helping you communicate with nurses or doctors, all that kind of stuff but also emotionally that they’re your advocate and your support system if you don’t have a mom or a friend that is there for you and supportive of your decision. Out, keep negativity out and hire someone that will be that for you. And also one thing I wish I had known that pumping was an option. I wanted to breastfeed but I was kind of discouraged from it or nervous too because I didn’t want to make it harder to leave her. I knew the importance of breast milk because I had been exposed to it all my life. My siblings are younger than me. But I didn’t want to make my emotions harder and I wouldn’t have changed my mind because I was very confident but I was just saying if I had known that pumping was an option then it kind of be the best of both worlds where she could get the nutrients but I wouldn’t have to physically give it to her to make it harder on myself, then I would have done that. So I would just encourage for you to explore your options that and feeding, just something I never thought about or was told about. As a teenager I didn’t know those things.

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MAKENA LEIGH PORTER

So first things first, for me I wanted the adoptive couple to be there. So for the birth and the room and everything. I had a birth plan which is really good to have because when you’re going through the whole process you don’t really care what happens. You just, you want it to be over with. My hospital experience was amazing. The hospital I had Mason at, every—all the nurses they’re actually a little bit educated on adoption and several of them were actually looking for expectant parents and so I didn’t get any glares or anything and I would, well, I guess I could have another kid there. I loved it.

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 The biggest thing for me was they treated me like I was a real mother, I mean I am a real mother, just a different sort of mother and the adoptive couple I had to call them at like 2 am because they live 5 hours away. So I called them and then they just started driving as fast as they can. I think they probably sped to get to the hospital. It’s a 5-hour drive and they got there in 4. They walked in the room and I said break my water and they were there for everything. I remember the adoptive dad crying to my right and then the adoptive mom was actually videoing the birth cause it’s a tradition to my family, it’s a little weird, but she was – and it was amazing and once I had Mason he went on my chest. For me I didn’t have the huge connection with him. It was like he’s my baby, I’m gonna raise him kind of connection that he didn’t feel like he was mine and so I looked at him. I held him for like 20-30 minutes and then I was like well it’s their turn. When I handed Mason to his parents, it’s- – just seeing them altogether. It was beautiful. It actually made me tear up at the time. That’s where he’s supposed to be, with them. They stayed in the hospital with me, they had a room down the hall and so when I was really tired and ready to pass out, I would send Mason down the hallway and then they would hang out with him, play with him and all of my family was there and they were there and a case worker was there. The case worker was awesome and when I was awake it was Mason is with me, we’re hanging out and we had a photographer come and take pictures and it was amazing. I loved it.

I would say, make a birth plan. Look up everything that you’re concerned with and know beforehand. For me, I had a lot of people that I needed to tell when I was going into labor and so I had a text message ready to send to all these different people and so when it was time, I’d send it and then everyone’s getting ready. It was, I don’t know- just be prepared, go to your classes, look up what’s going on with your body, just be smart.

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BAILEY CORRELL

First advice, go through and plan your birth. Do you want an epidural? Do you want to go all natural pain meds? Do you want an episiotomy? Do you want to opt out of episiotomy? Would you rather tear? Your birth is just as valid and as important as any other women, any traditional birthing experience. It is going to be different and let your doctor know that you’re choosing adoption. They don’t really know what to do with birthparents. We don’t come by very often. We are very different than the traditional birthing experience.

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[no audio] More emotions, there’s a lot of different things that go through our mind. Really be vocal with your doctor about what your choices are and what your birth plan is. I was induced and I had an epidural and it was awesome. It was super easy, great experience. It lasted [no audio] hours and I had a great time. When I arrived at the hospital, my best friend was there, the adoptive parents were there and my parents where there and my grandmother. This is her first great grandchild and I wanted her to be in the room for that. So we all went in. I had the epidural, I was induced and labor started progressing. We spent probably 12 hours before I actually got into hard labor. All of us playing cards, watching movies, it was great, it was a good bonding experience. I’m so glad they got to be there.

While you’re planning your birth, plan who you want to be there. Do you want your mother and father in the room? Do you want your best friend? Is your boyfriend available? Whoever is going to be the best support for you, pick them. Don’t pick someone just because they’ll be upset that they weren’t in the room. This is about you. And if you do not want the adoptive parents in the room, if that seems invasive, that is perfectly fine. You should not feel pressured for that at all. This is your experience too. [no audio] whenever I started pushing and actually had my daughter there was this sad feeling of this is the last time I’ll be able to call her mine [no audio]. Being pregnant can be miserable, it’s hot, it’s uncomfortable, you feel like a whale and I remember that last second thinking I would kill for 1 more month of this. I would do anything just to have her for one more week. When I was actually in active labor, the adoptive parents left the room and I was able to have her and just have a couple minutes with her just alone. We were able to have some time, I was able to talk to her, kiss her, love on her and finally I decided, I can’t imagine what her adoptive parents were thinking, they must have been like kids on Christmas morning, I called them in and handed her to her adoptive mother and said “It’s time to meet your mom”. We both were in tears. We both looked horrible. She’s been up all night with me. I looked like [no audio] baby. It was emotional, it was hard. I delivered the placenta and actually her adoptive father was able to cut her umbilical cord at that point. It was such a sweet moment for him and he was so excited and just honored and it was [no audio]. While I was talking about planning your birth, like I said, birthmothers are kind of rare and in the past we didn’t have the same birthing experiences that traditional mothers had. My doctors even still discouraged me from holding my daughter. He said, “Well it’s gonna be hard, you’re gonna bond”. I was like “I’m 9 months pregnant, I’m already bonded. This thing has been kicking me and sitting on my bladder for months.” I obviously like her a little bit. I obviously love the child and fought him on that one and tell him “Mind your own business, this is my experience not yours.” You might have to be a little pushy with your doctor in this. He was not going to take that from me. I wasn’t going to let him. And so I was able to hold her and I am so glad I did. After the birth, the nurses were great, they came and spend their breaks with me. I was moved off of the prenatal and birth floor. The labor and delivery floor and moved up to the renal floor and was able to be away from all of the noises of newborns and all of that because it was just too hard for me. So requesting something like that, maybe something you’re interested in, there’s nothing wrong with that. It was great for me to get away from the sound of newborns crying [no audio] knowing that my daughter was with someone else.

So in that, take control of your labor, your birth, because you’ve earned it. This is legitimate. You’ve earned the right to be in control here and just because you’re not keeping your child or you’re considering giving your child up for adoption that does not make your birth any less legitimate.

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HEIDI RUSSO

My hospital experience almost 28 years ago. I think we had planned pretty much out what was going to happen there. I had planned it out with Susie, the social worker at Lutherans Social Services and I’ve planned it out with Rick and Theresa. I believe Rick and Theresa were there after Colin was born and saw him. What wasn’t really relayed well to the nursing staff who was interacting with me was that, at that time in Wisconsin, between the time you delivered and the time you got into court to relinquish your right, your parental right was a 6 week period. So, what would normally happen is your child will go to foster care.

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Against everybody’s advice I wasn’t going to do that. I was bringing Colin home with me to care for him during that time period instead of placing him in foster care. What happened when I was in the hospital after I delivered him was they had him in the nursery and the nurse had come into my hospital room and said, “How are you doing?” that kind of stuff and I was like, “Fine, I was well”. I said, “Where’s my son?” and she was like “Oh, he’s in the nursery, don’t worry about it. We know you’re giving him up for adoption, we’ll take care of it” and I panicked then like, “Absolutely not! You bring him here right now. I am taking him home with me.” So I don’t think that our plan, as far as how that was going to work wasn’t relayed really well. Of course that sent me into a whole another spin of being paranoid, that they’re going to try to take him at the hospital, not they being Rick and Theresa but it was just a really uncomfortable situation. The communication wasn’t well. I don’t think nurses were educated at the time in how to interact with a birthmom placing. They still aren’t. I’m a nurse myself. They still are not educated on how to interact, communicate well with birthmoms and the whole adoption process so I can’t say it was the best experience, I think now you can chart your course in the hospital how you want it. I know now a lot of birthmoms are breastfeeding to give their child the best nutrition they can before placing in the arms of the adoptive couple. If that is what’s going to work best for you and you’re comfortable with that, that’s amazing. Whatever works best for you, whatever you’re comfortable with, whatever’s going to make the process of adoption easiest, if there’s an easy way, and smooth and comfortable for you, that you’re doing what’s best, do it. Even if it goes against the rules or the guidelines, this is your journey. You can chart this course however you want to chart it, based on what you feel is best for you because every situation is different. So I would just say do what you want to do and do it your way because you can’t go back on it once it’s done. That would be my advice.

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KELSEY QUESENBERRY

Well we had a last minute placement. We hadn’t even been matched or considered anything because true to being myself, I’m a procsrastrinator in every sense of the term, so we actually picked them after I had Henry. They had 2 days to put together a nursery and buy everything. It was just much as a whirlwind for us as it was for them. They came later. Amanda’s sister came with her and we got to meet them. They were really great. We were both super, super nervous and I felt horrible after being in the hospital for 3 days.

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Personally for us, we chose not to see Henry until we were leaving the hospital because we kind of wanted the first time that we saw him to be with his parents. It was hard and I know a lot of women decide that that time in the hospital was theirs. Honestly, you just kind of have to go with what feels right to you. We let our families see him and they really tried to push for us to see him as well but again I think it’s all about making your own decisions. Just go with what feels right. Don’t be afraid to utilize the hospital staff. I can’t tell you how amazing the nurses were at the hospital. They even made up this little list of who was allowed to visit me in my room and who wasn’t and if you were not in the list, you were not allowed back in my room. I’m pretty sure, the one nurse I don’t really quite remember, I was a little hazy and she threatened to call security on my mom once so that was awesome. Even if you have an idea of what you want to do when you get to the hospital, sometimes plan change and that’s okay. Like I said before, just take care of yourself and do what feels right for you.

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JANEL BROWN

My daughter’s mother was my Lamaze partner and during Lamaze I had let her move that I wasn’t feeling the baby move so they did a non-stress test which prompted another non-stress test the following day which ended up telling us that they were going to induce my labor the following Monday. All of that was planned and my daughter’s mother was in the delivery room with me, along with my own mother and she was my Lamaze coach.

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Once my daughter was born, because they knew that I was placing her, they didn’t give her to me and they just wheeled her out the room. Her mom was on their heels and I think at that time, I felt forgotten, but my mom was still there and I still had to finish doing all the after labor and all that fun stuff. It was always planned that she would be in the room with me and she would be the first person to be with our daughter.

Something I would tell future birthparents that are planning a hospital experience is to bring a camera. Make sure you take pictures not just on your phone. You want to have actual pictures that you can have in a photo album, it’s important. Talk to your doctors and talk to the parents and know if you’re going to get the chance to be the first one to hold your child. I think that it’s important and something that is not always discussed. The other thing in the hospital, remember what you write on the birth certificate papers because I don’t. Sometimes I question, what name did I put on there for her? Because we felt like her parents were her parents so I believe I just let them fill out that part and I did my part of the birth certificate papers. Just make sure that you have the involvement that you want in the whole experience. If you’re going to feed your child, change her or him, make sure that that’s known because if you miss out on that stuff that’s stuff you’ll never get back.

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