Years ago, dealing with a hospital during the birth of a baby about to be adopted could be quite an ordeal. The procedures (if there were any) varied widely. Smaller hospitals may not have ever dealt with the situation, or may not have standardized procedures. It could be quite difficult to balance the hospital’s interests and concerns (liability issues, privacy issues), the biological parent(s) needs, and the adoptive parents needs.
For instance in Texas, a common problem occurred when the bio mom preferred not to see the baby, because it was too difficult for her. However, if there were no provisions in place for allowing the baby to be cared for or released to anyone but her, she had no options. She would have to hold the baby until the “release” was complete. Once she got out of the wheelchair and out the front door of the hospital she could hand the baby to the adoptive parents. Often, the adoption attorney would have coordinated all this in advance with the parents, and made the hospital aware of what was about to happen.
Happily, things have changed. Most hospitals now have procedures in place to deal with adoptions of newborns.
It is very important that the hospital be aware of a planned adoption well in advance of delivery. Many options are available to adoptive parents and biological parents who have an adoption plan. Adoptive parents are often able to be part of the entire process. In some cases they may be able to stay at the hospital, and may wear wrist bracelets which identify them.
The National Council for Adoption, in Adoption Advocate, Educating Hospitals About Adoption; How Hospital Staff can Support Parent Considering an Adoption Plan- (October 2012), lists the following “Practice Recommendations” for hospitals:
1. Train staff – Hospitals can develop their own training and there is also training available through a federal grant from the Children’s Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services.
2. Establish policies that are birthparent-focused and friendly to adoptive parents: For instance: one staff member is designated as an adoption expert, the bio mother’s chart is clearly coded and identified, the medical records are clear about the adoption plan – including who is allowed to “room in”, what will happen at the baby’s release from the hospital and so on.
Making arrangements in advance with the hospital can help the biological parents and adoptive parents feel supported during this important time. An adoption attorney can assist with coordinating the process.