A beautiful hospital experience
Susan Tompkins, LCSW
Domestic Adoption Coordinator
Journeys of the Heart Adoption
Recently I was part of a beautiful hospital/adoption experience, something we all want but don’t always get. I don’t mean that the birth mother didn’t experience grief and loss but considering the difficult circumstances , she felt surrounded by the love and tender loving care.
How do I know this was a beautiful and loving experience? Of course, I have my own feelings and observations but numerous nurses validated this and social workers stopping the adoptive parents and me and saying something like, “this is the most loving and caring adoption we have ever experienced.”
One has to start with a birth mother who was open to receiving the love and TLC and adopting parents , in this case Layton and Sean, who had it in their hearts to give it. In this case, we had that openness and receptiveness on both sides.
The hospital did not have an extra room for the adoptive parents so the Layton spent two nights in the room with the birth mother and sweet baby. The first night the birth mother wanted to hold the baby most of the night. She did and when she really needed to sleep, she handed him over to Layton, who was more than ready to hold the precious bundle. Sean was in with everyone during the day and at a nearby hotel at night, getting his special time with the baby when it seemed appropriate.
The sharing went on throughout the hospital stay with the Layton always checking in to see what the birth mother wanted and then made sure she got it.
We all met at the hospital early in the morning. Layton handed over a medium sized black bag to the birth mother saying it was full of things she had packed that the birth mother might want or need during hospitalization. While we waited to be admitted, the birth mother looked through the bag and was she surprised. Clearly, Layton had put a lot of thought into the ingredients.
Here is a list of what was inside:
- Stool softener
- Water bottle
- Snack mix
- Facial wipes
- Make up remover
- Journal and pen
- Nail polish
- Hair bands
- Uber and iTunes gift card for a ride/meal/music
The birth mother was so grateful that such a bag was put together just for her and it set a nice tone for the whole stay.
Add in a phenomenal hospital staff who supported the birth mother in every way and often stopped by just to give her a hug or word of encouragement. Add in a complicated birth that Layton helped with, bringing she and the birth mother closer. It also didn’t hurt that Layton was herself adopted and understood the importance of birth family in the child’s life and who very much wanted the loving relationship that she didn’t have until much later in adulthood.
All the ingredients were there for the best adoption experience possible. You may be this fortunate when it is your time to be at the hospital with your child’s birth mother. However, if not, think of some ways that you can replicate the caring. For instance, you can have the care bag ready to go and maybe add a few things that are specific to the birth mother’s liking. (Pay attention to what she does like during your time with her or ask the adoption coordinator).
Alternatively, come up with your own ideas about what will make her feel like the special person she is.
For the last ten months I have been the adoption coordinator at Journeys of the Heart. At first I was thinking about being at hospitals in the middle of the night and all the paperwork that would have to be done. I knew, though, since I had been the coordinator in the beginning of Journeys, that there were aspects of the job that would be difficult emotionally and some that would be sheer delight.
What I’ve found this time around is that the diversity of the women who are placing their babies for adoption is so great and it’s been an incredible honor and an education to help them when they’ve needed it. Several of the birth mothers have been homeless which presents unusual challenges for them, the agency and adopting parents. Usually prenatal care has not been received so we never know how the baby is going to be at birth. Where will they go after the placement is another challenge. Sometimes they make it clear that they don’t need any help from the agency and they will go back to their homelessness.
Drug use can be an issue with marijuana being used by many. The nurses at the hospitals say, “everyone is using it these days.” Not always true but often. Methamphetamines has long been a problem in the Pacific Northwest and it continues. The outcome for these babies can be good depending on a variety of variables. Many of these women will at least consider treatment after the baby is born.
Another category of women placing for adoption is one we haven’t seen in such numbers before – those that do not tell their families about the adoption plan, at least initially. This is done because they believe they will not be supported and may be judged and berated. Some have shared after they get home and the reaction has been upsetting, particularly when they are feeling their own grief and physical depletion.
What has happened with these placements is that the family and I become their support system at the hospital. We’ve gotten to know the women so well and the bond that is forged there is a wonderful precursor to a rich open adoption experience for everyone.
I can say that getting to know the women has been the best experience – I no longer worry about the late night hospital stays or the paperwork. I am all in emotionally and I have loved being there to support and advocate and connect. Bring it on!!
Susan Tompkins, LCSW
Text or Call me anytime
This e-mail just in from Chad Goller-Sojourner about his exciting new TransracialFamily Coaching.
After a year of planning and six months of hard work, Transracial Family Coaching is finally up and running. Like my forthcoming book From Lutefisk and Lefse to Cornbread and Collards: Narratives, Essays, and Interactive Exercises in Transracial Adoption Transracial Family Coaching is born out of a heartfelt desire to assist prospective and adoptive parents in identifying, understanding, and overcoming the inherent challenges and obstacles that come with creating and growing healthy and happy transracial families.
Transracial adoption has been happening since the late 1940’s when Korean orphans were being adopted by Caucasian parents who lived all over the US. At that time and for many years later the prevailing wisdom was to “take them home and love them.” No need for these children to grow up knowing about being Korean since that was no longer the case – they were Americans and the majority race of America was Caucasian. (more…)
Last summer Kathy from Oregon came home with her darling daughter, Shanita, from Uganda. We’ve put in a few pictures here for all to enjoy. First Shanita when we first met her and then pictures of Kathy and Shanita together. Needless to say, Shanita knew from the instant Kathy walked into the orphanage that she was her mother and the two have been inseparable ever since. It was one of those moments when Kathy realized that this was all meant to be. (more…)