No two adoptions are the same and neither is the adoption experience. The process in itself is the same, but the emotions are different. And this adoption experience was definitely different than our first.
At the beginning everything seemed quite similar.
Both of our birth mothers:
- Found out they were pregnant at five and half months along.
- The birth father was known and involved.
- Pregnant with little girls.
- Wished to have an open adoption.
- Wanted to meet regularly up until the birth.
- Both were induced.
However, there were also some differences between each adoption experience:
- Age: Our first birth mother was older with grown children. Our second was younger and this was her first child.
- Birth Fathers: We had met our first birth father. We have not met this one.
- Degree of openness desired: Our first adoption is semi-open, meaning we send pictures and letters. This adoption is open. Meaning, in addition to pictures and letters, we will physically meet four times a year.
- Naming the baby: Our first birth mother let us choose the name (she just didn’t want to know it until after the birth). Our second birth mother had a name that she was drawn to and wanted incorporated into her name (So we added it as a second middle name).
But the biggest difference has been the hospital adoption experience.
Obviously, COVID restrictions made an impact on the experience. Also, we were at a different hospital that had different protocols. However, there we more differences than that…
Let’s start with a recap of our first adoption:
Our oldest daughter‘s birth mother was induced at 8am. We arrived at the hospital at 8 as well, along with our adoption agent. We waited in the waiting room on the labor and delivery floor. Our birth mother was accompanied by the birth father and her grown children. While we were waiting for labor to begin, her kids kept us updated on how everything was going and even went to lunch with us.
When placing for adoption, the birth mother must come up with a birth plan (i.e. who is to be in the room, holds the baby first, etc…). Her plan was for her family to be in the room and then the baby would come to us after the birth. However, right before the birth mother was about to push, she changed her mind and had one of her children come and get me and I was able to watch my daughter be born (I even cut her umbilical cord!).
After the birth, when everyone was cleaned up and good health was confirmed, we all moved to the postpartum floor. The birth mom, the baby, and myself all received matching identify bracelets so the hospital knew who the baby belonged to.
The birth family kept the baby in their room for a little over an hour but then she was moved to our room where she stayed until we left the hospital two days later. Before the birth mother left the day after the birth, she did come down to our room to say goodbye, but she didn’t spend any more alone time with her.
During adoptions, birth parents have until 72 hours after the birth to have a change of heart. This means that they still have rights to the baby until they sign a custody release at the 72 hour mark. At no point in this adoption were we nervous that this wouldn’t happen. And obviously it did happen and our beautiful little girl is now two.
And now for this adoption experience:
Our birth mother was induced at 10PM on Sunday night. Luckily, COVID regulations loosened up a little bit and my husband and I were given a room on the postpartum floor to wait. The birth mom, however, was only allowed to have one support person with her at a time. So for her birth plan she chose to have the birth father for the delivery and then he would leave and her mom would come the day following the birth. She also requested to be the first to hold the baby.
We barely slept the first night wondering what was going on. We didn’t have a nurse or social worker assigned to us from the hospital and our agent wasn’t there either (due to COVID). So there was no communication about what was happening. The only time we were able to get an update was when we went up to the labor and delivery floor and asked the nurses to call her nurse so she could tell us.
We first asked at 8AM on Monday morning. We were told that she was about 1cm dilated. This being her first baby, we were pretty sure we were in it for the long haul.
This could take days…
But then we asked again around 12PM before we went to lunch. The nurse at this point told that she was already 6cm dilated and 90% effaced! This was going quick!
We assumed that it would still be a few hours until pushing, though, since most women dilate somewhere around a centimeter an hour. However, when we asked again at 2:30PM the nurse told me that the baby was born a little over an hour ago!
I was so excited, but I was also VERY nervous because:
- The birth mom told our agent that she would text her updates so that she could relay them to me and she never did.
- The hospital didn’t inform me of active labor/birth until I asked.
- The nurse told me that the birth mom was going to stay with the baby for the next 2 hours until they moved down to the postpartum floor and then they would discuss how we were going to do the introduction.
When we got to the hospital before our oldest daughter was born, our agent told us that if the birthmother spends more than 8 hours with the baby that we just go ahead and leave the hospital because it is a sign that she is having a change of heart. I called our agent during this 2 hour wait and updated her as to what was going on. She told me to be VERY nervous because to her it sounded like the hospital staff was treating it as if the birth mother was planning to parent. She also told me that she had multiple placements at this hospital this year and none of them went like this was going.
My anxiety was through the roof!
And then the two hours was up and we still had no baby… We kept waiting in silence. It was coming up to the three hour mark and we were about to ask someone but then we heard them. They were in the hall and getting moved into the room right next to us (which is also weird, our first adoption we were down the hall from the birth mom).
Now, I don’t know about you, but I feel that God has a heck of a sense of humor and uses irony to play with us. Our first daughter was born at 4:20PM on a Monday. Our second daughter was born at 1:21PM on a Monday. At EXACTLY 4:20PM on that Monday the nurse walks into our room to tell us she is bringing our baby over!
The nurses brought her in. Although I still did not receive a bracelet matching hers, we got to finally meet our daughter. And we got to give her her first bottle. However, around 9PM that night the birth father left and her mother came and so she wanted the baby back.
The nurses took the baby back over and she stayed there until around 11PM when the birth mother decided she wanted to sleep and the baby would stay the night in our room.
The next morning, at 9AM, the nurses came back in and said that COVID restrictions loosened again and that the birth mom was allowed to have family visit that day so she wanted the baby back until 6PM!
I was a wreck!
That was over the 8 hours we were warned about. However, all we could do was wait and pray. Our agent did tell us that recently she had an adoption in which the birth mother kept the baby for 48 hours and then right before she left the hospital she gave the baby to the adoptive family and all went through! So there was still hope!
The nurses came back in that afternoon to say that the baby was having her first bath and the birth mom not only would like some clothes to change her into but would also like for us to come over and watch the bath with them!
Getting to see her and her mom was a HUGE relief! The birth mom told me that her delivery nurse was apparently new to the hospital and did not follow her birth plan. She was apologetic that we had to wait for so long to meet the baby but she was grateful that we, of course, did!
I felt at ease with everything after getting to see them until that evening…
The birth father came back with his family that evening and so the baby stayed in their room until 9PM! That is when the nurse finally came in to get me to give me a bracelet to match the baby since the birth mom was leaving the hospital. I got a matching bracelet, but the birth mother was going to keep hers so that her and the birth father could come back the next day (before the baby was allowed to leave the hospital) to she her again.
At this point I was just praying super hard that they just wanted to come back and see her. Not come back and take her home.
Luckily, the next day, our agent informed us that they had changed their mind and were not going to come to see her again. HUGE relief #2!
We brought her home yesterday and she finally got to meet her big sister. I was SO nervous about jealousy from our older daughter but she LOVES her! I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction and acceptance (at least so far!). Some family and friends have met her too but until this moment we haven’t publicly announced her birth.
We were waiting for her birth parents to sign off at the 72 hour, post-birth mark (1:21PM today) and…
Today must have been one of the hardest days of their lives. But it is also one of the best of ours! We will be forever grateful for these two beautiful people!!