I recently saw a video where two moms were dropping “truth bombs” about pregnancy and birth. One thing they mentioned was the need for padding immediately after… or maybe a better word would be sponges. They implied that women are usually told to bring a pantiliner, as there “may be some blood”, and then proceeded to demonstrate how to layer maxi pads to cover all affected areas.
I guess this is another area where I have midwives to thank for properly preparing me. Pads? Nah. A good month before my due date, they told me to go ahead and stock up on some adult diapers. That’s right – fashion statement of the century. I begrudgingly bought a small package, and wow, what a shock: they knew what they were talking about!
Once I had showered, I got cozy in a T-shirt, oversized sweatpants, and – yep – an adult diaper (with a pad inside it still, just to be safe), and rolled into bed for some MUCH needed rest. My daughter’s parents were happily bonding with her in the living room, but soon, they brought her back in. In my prior discussions with them and the midwives, I had requested to attempt nursing before she was taken home – it was an experience I just wanted to have. I got to hold her on my chest, feel her warm skin against mine, put my finger in her tiny hand, and… fall asleep. Hey, I was exhausted. It was really sweet to take a short nap with her.
I rather appreciated not having to go anywhere afterward. Even with my initial plans to give birth in a beautiful local birthing center, we would have had to get dressed and clean up and pack up and drive home at some point – probably not a comfortable drive home either. Now of course, the baby still had to be bundled up and carted home in this situation, but I was thinking how easy it all would have been in a typical keeping-the-baby scenario. There’s no rush. The midwives cleaned everything up and even took out the trash with them. One could spend as much time as desired skin-to-skin bonding or go straight into a nap. I read a story in one homebirth book where a woman who had given birth at home said she missed the whole “bringing the baby home” experience, but lord, it just seemed to me like it would be so much easier to skip that ordeal altogether.
Home birth vs. a birthing center will definitely be a debate should I ever go through this again, but either way, one thing that was avoided was a ton of paperwork. I’m not sure what all went on with the parents, but for me, there were only a couple of papers I had to sign. After we had all gathered to watch the midwives give the baby her first examination, my adoption agent sat down with me to go over final details. There was no strange third party from the hospital present, and we had already talked through and signed the majority of the paperwork in my earlier appointments. I believe there was only one signature needed for me to activate all of the other forms. At this point though, my daughter was still legally mine. The initial agreement is simply that the birth mother is allowing the adoptive parents to care for her child for a time.
That all changes once you have an official court date. Mine was set for exactly two weeks later. Several days before, I had a meeting with a lawyer, which the adoption agency provided. She helped me fill out the remaining legal forms that would legally release me from all rights of paternity. The court date was simple, lasting only fifteen minutes. I answered a series of routine questions, mostly with “yes” or “no.” However, the state of Oklahoma has a law which requires the presiding judge to believe the child will be in better hands with their adoptive parents than with the birth mother, so I had to state my reasons for placing my daughter up for adoption. Afterward, the kind judge took the time to go off record to tell me that he thought I would be a wonderful mother someday. I had remained unemotional up to that moment, but I have to admit, that brought tears to my eyes.
However, even after parental rights had been waived, there were more steps to be taken (luckily, this is where the agency takes care of things for you). We had had some trouble getting the biological father to sign forms releasing his own rights of paternity, although he hadn’t put up any fight against the adoption. Finally, having been unable even to serve him the papers (which would have automatically waived his rights if he failed to return them after thirty days), we resorted to waiving his rights by publication. In this method, a birth announcement for the child is placed in a newspaper, requesting that anyone wanting to claim paternity please step forward in court on a set day. If no one appears on that day, then all paternal rights are officially waived. The day came and went, nothing happened, and my daughter was at last released from her biological parents.
But it’s still not quite that easy for the adoptive parents. At this time, she is still legally a ward of the adoption agency, not her parents. It will not be until six months after her birth – a trial period in which the agency checks in multiple times with the parents to see how things are progressing and make sure they are fit to parent – that she will have her legal adoption day, and her last name will be changed for good. From start to finish, it’s quite a process!
That’s why I couldn’t be more grateful for my agency. There was no point in my pregnancy or adoption process when I felt confused about what was happening or what came next. I always knew that they would handle the details, that they cared very specifically about me and my baby, and that they would make sure everything worked out in our best interests. Whether you are considering adopting a child or placing your child for adoption, don’t hesitate because you are worried about the hassle or the process or the difficulty. It’s always worth it in the end. Not only that, but I also met and interacted with some amazing people along the way, from my daughter’s parents to my agent to my lawyer to the judge. There are people ready and waiting to help you, no matter what your situation.