The hospital experience – has the pendulum swung too far?

14 Mar

I admit that I am old-fashioned and feel very strongly when I see what appears to be lines in the sand that are crossed in adoption.  The way this article was written turned me off so you may want to zip right on by.  To start off, this article linked is written to prospective adoptive parents, people who are supposed to have already been schooled on the intricacies of adoption, specifically the fact that until the papers are signed you are not in control, you have no rights and if you are invited to the hospital, you are a guest. 

I’m hearing a sense of entitlement in the article for the adopting parents to control the experience which is very troubling to me…I hope I am wrong.  How Should New Parents Navigate the Hospital Experience?

“It helps to discuss the hospital adoption experience with the birth parents and an adoption professional ahead of time, giving both families the opportunity to weigh in. Decide on as many details as possible, such as who will hold the baby first in the delivery room and what name the birth mother will put on the birth certificate form, and record them in a written hospital plan.” (bolding mine)

I don’t believe it is any business of the prospective parents what the expectant mother wants in her hospital plan, unless she specifically wants them to do something and they need to agree or decline.  Other than that, I don’t think they have any right to weigh in on her hospital plan for her, and her baby.  Nor do they have any right to weigh in on what name goes on the original birth certificate, which seems to be inferred, to me.

In reality they have no rights, because it is not their baby yet, and may never be.

I want to stop here for a minute and note that I’m sure there are adoption professionals who believe this empowers the expectant mother and helps her, it may also be fact.  There may also be adoption professionals skilled in ensuring the mother feels like she has no voice, and will follow the plan, regardless if she wants to change her mind.  I think it is the duty of everyone involved to make sure that the expectant mother is protected, and given the space to make that choice all over again, after her baby is born.

There are other points in the article that shouldn’t need to be pointed out at all.  And if they must be pointed out then it’s probably better to be extremely blunt so they get it, things like the expectant mother must be in control and the prospective parents are guests.

“[…] It helps if you can view this as her hospital experience. Check in with her and ask how things are going. At the same time, offer her time alone with the baby while you take a break (go back to the hotel and take a nap, or shop for baby items). Some birth mothers have complained that the adopting couple was always in the room, and they never had any time alone with the baby. You will have plenty of time with the baby when you get home!”  (bolding mine)

This IS her hospital experience, she’s the one pregnant, giving birth, and most importantly, she’s THE mom until those papers are signed.  If you don’t already understand that basic premise, sigh, then it might also seem to be mighty generous to offer her time alone with HER baby.  A mother stating that the adopting couple was always in the room speaks to how entitled some feel to a baby that is not yet, and may never be, theirs.

This whole article bothered me, triggered me…I think the pendulum has swung too far and needs to swing back to where an expectant mother is the only one in control.  I feel very strongly about this, enough to weigh in, adopting parents need to think of the long-term – how will their child react if they feel their mother by birth felt pushed to go along with the plan, rather than making that choice on her own, without any pressure, especially by the prospective parents.  It mattered to me that my parents didn’t play any role in what my mother decided to do in regards to me.  I hope any prospective parent reading this understands the difference it can make to a relationship with your child that needs to be strong enough to last a lifetime…

Now getting back to what originally triggered me to start writing was to ask my friends and readers reading this to weigh in on the naming part of this post, specifically, who should be part of the naming on the babies original birth certificate (the OBC) NOT the amended birth certificate.  I’ve created the short survey below based on I have read that is currently happening, I’ve tried to word two different statements as either/or so while there are four statements in total only pick the two  statements that best matches your view.  In the other box, please be so kind as to note what role you play in adoption, if any.


Posted by on March 14, 2015 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , ,

36 responses to “The hospital experience – has the pendulum swung too far?

  1. L4R

    March 14, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    Well, now, I’m irate. The PAPs do not have a right to even voice a thought about the name a mother gives to her child on the OBC. That’s utterly ridiculous, especially considering it will quickly become the non-legal name on a defunct document.

    I’m truly sorry that some are unable to have the experience of giving birth. I cannot imagine how difficult that is. But, rather than trying to usurp another’s experience, it would probably be better to grieve the loss of what cannot be. It is the mother’s experience to have.

    Be a guest, at most, and don’t press any agenda.

    “There are four statements in total only pick the two statements that best matches your view. In the other box, please be so kind as to note what role you play in adoption, if any. (In total you will have picked either the first or the second, the third or fourth, and written in your role in the other box.)”

    –I found this to be confusing. At first it directs me to pick two statements, which is what I did. Then, after I made my selection, when I reread it, the information in the parentheses instructs me to pick differently…. No idea if I followed your instructions, but I did answer according to my beliefs.


    • TAO

      March 14, 2015 at 11:09 pm

      I’ll delete the other instructions – you answered right. I agree with your comment…


      • TAO

        March 14, 2015 at 11:11 pm

        I’ve totally messed up the instructions adding that extra stuff in – only answer what most fits your views. Thanks for catching L4R…


        • TAO

          March 14, 2015 at 11:14 pm

          Can I say I hate polls…check any answers you feel fit your views


  2. flrpwll

    March 14, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Hm. I’m admittedly a bit hard-nosed about this, but I think PAP’s should keep well away from the hospital. None of this helping to deliver, cutting the cord, or watching the birth.

    They are the ones who will be taking the child home with them (more than likely), so why do they need to invade the birth space?Are they hovering around to make sure the first mother doesn’t change her mind?


    • TAO

      March 14, 2015 at 11:12 pm

      I don’t think they should be there either but it is also up to the individual mother – but the prospective parents must only see themselves as guests…kind of a pick your battle…


      • Lisa

        March 15, 2015 at 1:23 am

        Keep them the hell out of there. The individual mother deserves to be kept individual for as long as possiblle, so that she to relate with ease to her child.
        Only then can she make anything like approaching a considered decision.


      • flrpwll

        March 15, 2015 at 10:35 pm

        Oh, definitely. I just object to the fact that it seems to be an expectation for PAPs to be around somewhere.


        • TAO

          March 15, 2015 at 10:46 pm

          I don’t like the sense of entitlement either, I’ve also seen too many comments on public forums like the birthmother lost her mucus plug, or the birthmother is 44 cm dilated, etc., and it is so blatantly wrong. It all makes me squeamish – perhaps because of my experience giving birth combined with being adopted.


    • dmdezigns

      March 15, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Think of it this way.. . . If a woman is giving birth, not thinking of adoption, should she be able to choose who is in the room when she gives birth?, who is there later and how much time they spend at the hospital with her?, what name she gives the baby? Should she alone (or with her partner) be able to decide who is going to cut the cord? Should they alone be able to decide what type of birth plan works for them? I think we would all agree the answer is yes. We shouldn’t take those rights away just because a woman is considering adoption. She should still be able to make those decisions, but they need to be hers. And if she wants PAPs to be there for part or all, she should have the right to make that decision, but the PAPs should be there as guests. They should go out of their way to respect her wishes, not overstay their welcome, and make it easy for her to change anything about her plan for the experience to the point of not coming to the hospital at all if she wants it that way. I struggle with saying that all PAPs should be kept away because that takes away the right of the mom to choose what she wants. Let’s leave that choice with each individual mom because they are different. But I would like to see better guidelines for PAPs on how to honor and respect without being coercive.


      • flrpwll

        March 15, 2015 at 10:34 pm

        I agree. But the idea of the PAPs being there seems to be a given, and that is what I take issue with.


      • TAO

        March 15, 2015 at 10:49 pm

        Would you like to write a post?


        • flrpwll

          March 20, 2015 at 12:52 am

          Hah. It would probably be all swearing. I’ll leave that to people with calmer temperaments.


      • Dana

        March 22, 2015 at 12:41 am

        She should also make it very clear that if she catches the PAPs sharing her birth information on social media or by any other means (as someone else commented, “the birthmother lost her mucus plug” or “the birthmother is __ cm dilated”, etc.) that she can sue their pants off. That’s a violation of HIPAA.


    • Liz Steen

      March 20, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      Couldn’t agree with you more……really has to stop. These mothers are not your surrogates.


      • Dana

        March 22, 2015 at 12:42 am

        Frankly you don’t treat a surrogate like that either. It’s still HER pregnancy, not yours. The BABY may not be hers, but her uterus certainly is.



      March 22, 2015 at 11:23 pm

      You are not hard-nosed. I totally agree and most are too nice to be assertive. Unfortunately I had my own mother invade my space in the hospital with traumatic words (to me they were). I also was not advised I had six months to change my mind after first signing. My son was 9 months old when I relinquished him and in retrospect I was in severe postpartum depression, something not taken into account much less recognized or help available, which my mother of course steered with hovering.


  3. Katie

    March 15, 2015 at 12:10 am

    The names of the biological parents go on the OBC — ONLY.

    All adoptees should have access to their OBCs. Period. It’s a basic human right.

    PAPs have no business being “matched” with pregnant ladies, let alone in the delivery room.


    • Lisa

      March 15, 2015 at 3:03 pm



  4. dmdezigns

    March 15, 2015 at 11:50 am

    So, I’m an AP. And yes I was at the hospital. Our daughter was my kid’s first mom’s fifth birth. And her 3rd placement. She had definite ideas of what she wanted at the hospital. We didn’t ask her. The agency shared some of what she had expressed to them and she told us what she wanted. Between those discussions, we learned what her desire for that time was, with the caveat that all was subject to change at the birth. We didn’t have input (and shouldn’t have had input). I didn’t expect to be in the delivery room. I had, as someone above posted, already grieved that loss, and it was no longer important to me. It wasn’t even on my nice to have list. She wanted me there. And to me my presence was about supporting her, holding her hand. I was so focused on her I didn’t half pay attention to the birth. She later told the agency it was one of the best delivery experiences she had had. That is not to brag – just to say, the focus should only be on meeting her needs and wishes while there. She told us she wanted that first day after delivery to be with the baby and that she wanted us to plan to leave once she got to her room. Per her wishes we stayed with baby in her room until they wheeled her in. Then we quietly and discreetly left. She called us before we got out of the parking lot because she was surprised we already left. We didn’t ask when we could come back. We just waited for her call. Those days were all about be there when she wants, leave when she wants. That’s how it should be if an AP is going to be there. Yes it was nerve racking, yes it was hard to think of what she wanted and ignore what we wanted. But this time was so important to her, she deserved to have it match her wants as much as it possibly could.

    With our son, she had an emergency csection with a lot of complications. We weren’t there for the birth and I don’t feel we really missed anything. I don’t look at him and think man if we’d only been there when he was born. It’s not a big deal to us. We did see him some at the hospital. With both kids, there was at least 1 whole day that we didn’t even go to the hospital. And we were never there more than a few hours at a time with either.

    I think sometimes, people want to control everything. And when so much has been out of your control already, you either embrace it and learn to experience life without worrying about controlling things or you become even more controlling in an attempt to offset the loss of control you’ve had.

    I think that if your response to not being able to control everything is to become more controlling, you should absolutely stay away from the hospital. If this feels like your birth experience because you didn’t get to have one, you should stay away from the hospital. If you are already thinking of this baby as yours before it’s born, you should stay away from the hospital. If you are hoping to breast feed the baby you hope to adopt, you absolutely should stay the HELL away from the hospital and by no means bf that baby before papers are signed. If you are tempted to do anything that puts you in a position of being mom while baby is still at the hospital, STAY AWAY! It amazes me that PAPs have to be told you aren’t mom yet. Mom still decides what baby eats. Mom still makes medical decisions. Mom gets to name baby. Mom gets to decide her visitors. Mom gets to decide when you leave. If you struggle with any of those ideas, you have no business at the hospital.

    And for the record, that article pissed me off and screamed coercion and entitlement to me. Articles and attitudes like that are exactly why so many are against PAPs being at the hospital. And I get that. I also think that it can be done properly. But it’s hard and not for the self absorbed or entitled.


    • TAO

      March 15, 2015 at 10:48 pm

      Thanks DM – so happy to see you back here. Agree it can be done properly but not how it was presented in the article. Articles like this just make it all that much harder, appalled it was published.


    • flrpwll

      March 15, 2015 at 10:49 pm

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. 🙂


  5. Jess

    March 16, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Just another expert weighing in on an experience that is not even hers–unless Kathleen Silber is a first mother, and I’m betting she isn’t. The tone of the piece was incredibly patronizing. “Be sensitive to the birth mother’s needs, and let her feel she is in control.” It is to barf. Notice who Silber assumes is really in control here.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. onewomanschoice

    March 16, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    I found the very first paragraph off-putting.

    The birth parents are saying hello to “the” (instead of “their”) baby, and, at the same time, are preparing to say goodbye.

    And that’s it? Really?

    Then they move immediately to the Adoptive parents.

    1. The adoptive parents are joyful but anxious.
    2. They may worry about how they’ll be treated by the hospital staff,
    3. or that the birth mother will change her mind about adoption
    4. and delay their dreams of parenthood.

    So the birthparents are just going to say hello and goodbye without any feelings and the birth father may not change his mind? Nor are they anxious? They won’t or don’t worry about how the proposed adoptive parents are going to treat them? They don’t worry how the staff will treat them (history shows hospital staff has treated women giving birth and relinquishing their rights pretty shitty in the past). They don’t think about their dreams and how their dreams of being a parent are being delayed or if they break this agreement, how it will make the proposed adoptive parents feel?

    Birthparents (mainly birthmothes) have the weight of the world on their shoulders at this very difficult time in their life. This first paragraph makes it sound as if their role, their feelings, their emotions and their responsibilies are trivial as compared to the adoptive parents.

    So yes Tao, it wreaks of entitlement from the very first paragraph. Thanks for sharing and shedding light and for always giving us a voice.


    • TAO

      March 16, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Thanks – sometimes I tread into spaces I shouldn’t – but the mere thought that the prospective parents would feel they have a right to weigh in on the name given on the original birth certificate – just tipped me over. The whole piece did – but the OBC? That’s just plain wrong.


  7. onewomanschoice

    March 17, 2015 at 1:56 am

    Reblogged this on One Woman's Choice and commented:
    Good topic. My thoughts are in the comments of the blog post. Be sure to vote at the bottom of the post.


  8. Tiffany

    March 19, 2015 at 12:41 am

    I could say a lot, but I disagree so much with the article and find it sad because I think agencies prepare PAPs to act in this way, based on my personal experience.

    I have several regrets with the way we handled our interactions with my daughter’s parents at her birth, and they will stay with me forever. I didn’t know better, and I honestly tried very hard to do the right thing, and in many of the instances, I did. But it’s very emotional and stressful and no one knows the right things to say. There was so much politeness on both our parts, and not enough honesty, I believe. I don’t want to get into specifics here, but based on my personal experience, I do not think PAPs should be at the hospital when the baby is born or the day after or until the mother signs the papers.

    I treasure the pictures I have of me holding my daughter a few hours after her birth, and I treasure the pictures I have of her with her parents because I wouldn’t have them for her otherwise. But in looking back, I didn’t belong there. I have a mixture of both regret and joy in those memories, and I wish I had done better.


    • Tiffany

      March 19, 2015 at 12:50 am

      Forgot to answer your actual question. We were asked by the parents to pick a name, and they demurred when I asked if they had one or any ideas. I don’t know what their feelings were around this decision- if they felt compelled to offer it to us. I won’t speak for them. But I did not make the assumption that we would name her, I didn’t ask, and I didn’t offer. I did not know about the sealing of the OBC until after a name was chosen- we completed a very quick adoption. I didn’t realize then that even in an open adoption, they issue a new BC and the parents could have named her as they wished. I thought the OBC would stay. They did not know, either, as the social worker did not tell them. That’s a huge regret of mine, and I tried to correct it after the fact, but it isn’t possible once the document is signed at the hospital.

      We did include the parents in deciding the name, though, when they asked us to name our (all of us) daughter. Also, a part of our daughter’s name is her mother’s name.


      • TAO

        March 19, 2015 at 2:09 pm

        Tiffany – your adoption happened organically if you will – not agency/lawyer driven so I don’t think you should hold regrets that are in any way blame based, if that makes any sense.


        • Tiffany

          March 20, 2015 at 12:10 am

          Thanks, TAO, but I really do still hold myself accountable. It may not have been intentional, it may have been the result of a very, very quick series of events which made it hard to think straight, and it may have been based in ignorance, but I still made choices that I regret because they were mistakes. Mistakes completely free of any malicious intentions. But mistakes none the less, and I will have to live with them.

          What angers me is when I try to share about it, and PAPs or other APs shut me up because it isn’t the sunshine and roses they want people to hear about. I am angry when I see agencies doing this crap- encouraging pre-birth placements, close contact between the mother and PAPs, and using the term “birth mom” when the mother is still pregnant with her own child and is absolutely not a “birth mom.” THEY should know better, like I do, after going through it one time. Yet after hundreds of times, they still spout the same junk.


  9. wenderfulme

    March 19, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    Reblogged this on In My Own Words and commented:
    Interesting Dialog.


  10. Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy

    March 19, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    The idea of APs influencing the OBC at ALL gives me chills up my spine. Just leave it alone and let it be a truthful record even if it gets sealed! Urgggg.
    The article itself makes me spit nails. I just can’t stand these “experts” that are just not. It’s just validating and foster the wrong information and those horrible feelings of entitlement. Double urgggg
    I dislike the PAPs at the hospital at all. (though if one MUST.. thank you DM for being as close to perfect as you could.) I also am not a fan at all of the prebirth matching either. And I know, form these discussions before that often what is said is ” our birthmother wanted us there. She had no one else to support her” And I hear that, but I also will concur that the pendulum DOES need to swing. It’s no the PAP’s job to “support” her. If she has no one to hold her hand in labor, then if you want to help, help her find a doula. Pay for it if you want. But don’t be there. I don’t care if she says she wants you there. At some point, some “expert” is going to have to have to say that it is just not in her best interest – it’s wrong for PAPs to be there because no matter how much you “try to make it about her” just you presences as an expectation AP is going to influence her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      March 19, 2015 at 10:45 pm

      Thanks Claudia


  11. StoneGirl

    March 20, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    As an adoptee, I really feel that my birth was MY experience to share with my natural parents only. I am extremely uncomfortable with the thought of my adoptive parents being there. It feels intrusive and greedy and manipulative, and makes me concerned about their attitude/possessiveness/jealousy regarding the many other aspects of being involved in an adoption. APs who can’t bear the thought of not being at the birth: there’s no need to take over EVERY single aspect of your prospective child’s life starting with their first breath. Just chill.


  12. iwishiwasadopteD

    March 21, 2015 at 4:01 am

    I’m happy that my adoptive parents were not there when I was born. It was not the way back in 1962.

    My mother cared for me in the hospital for 5 days. I don’t know if the staff knew I was going to be given up for adoption. I was released to my parents. My mother described dressing me in an outfit that she knitted for me. She said it was tight around my head and the nurse helped her get it on me.

    She described my father holding my hand tenderly.

    They got in the my fathers car with me, and drove to the adoption agency. They had an appointment with the agency pediatrician. They arrived early, and spent the time holding and playing with me. They took turns holding me while the papers necessary for my relinquishment were completed. My mother was described as weeping during the process, but sure about her decision to place me.

    My mother seemed to know me very well. she expressed concern for me, and fed me a bottle and changed my diaper quite competently. There was no doubt that she had a great deal of affection for me.

    My parents left me at the agency. They returned a week later to complete the final paperwork.

    I went to a foster home for 3 weeks, then was placed with my adoptive family. Cold words for a harsh reality. I don’t remember a thing.



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