by, Emily Morehead, MA
November is National Adoption Month.
For many reasons, clinicians, including nurses, may feel uncertain about how to care for a patient planning adoption.
They may have little experience with patients planning adoption or be unsure of their hospital’s policies about care of patients planning adoption. Because adoption has changed so much in recent years, having current information is important. Sometimes personal or professional experiences may impact one’s perspective or opinion about adoption either positively or negatively. As with other sensitive issues, putting aside personal biases about adoption allows the clinician to appropriately help patients with their individual needs related to placing a baby for adoption.
Birth parent’s long term beliefs about themselves and their adoption plan may be influenced by the care received from clinicians. Adoption professionals have witnessed birth parents’ positively impacted by the nursing care they received while in the hospital. Our clients often share with us how important their medical team was to their healing and memory of that time in their life
Here are 8 tips to have on hand to assist you with providing empathetic and compassionate care to patients planning adoption:
- Know your hospital and/or practice’s policies and procedures on adoption.
- Know state laws regarding adoption.
- Understand that your patients will process their emotions differently. Understand your own emotions and reactions and be prepared to support patients where they are emotionally. Have adoption handouts and resource lists on hand.
- Understand that in most circumstances your patient may have been planning adoption for several months and has developed a trusting relationship with her caseworker. Her caseworker can be a great resource of information for you and your team.
- Some patients may be in a difficult situation and do not have a parenting plan for their baby. Work within your organization’s guidelines to provide referrals.
- Place a discrete symbol on the door of a patient who is planning adoption. This will keep staff mindful that the patient may have complex needs and desire extra empathy.
- Request adoption training for your practice or hospital. Training may be helpful to ask questions and identify ways to increase support for patients planning adoption.
- Use accurate adoption language. For example, replacing the words “give away for adoption” with “place for adoption” takes away judgement from language and empowers patients.
Emily Morehead, MA
Emily holds a Bachelor’s degree in Development and Family Studies and a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Emily is an Adoption Education Specialist at the Gladney Center for Adoption where she uses her clinical skills to educate medical professionals and social workers with accurate and practical information about empathetic approaches related to adoption.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, promotes the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, youth, and families by connecting child welfare, adoption, and related professionals as well as the public to information, resources, and tools covering topics on child welfare, child abuse and neglect, out-of-home care, adoption, and more.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway provides access to print and electronic publications, websites, databases, and online learning tools for improving child welfare practice, including resources that can be shared with families.