In Virginia, a parent of a child has legal authority to formally grant custody of that child to another person without the need for a court order. It is remarkable, however, how few people know this. Neither hospitals nor insurance companies will acknowledge the validity of a simple parental Transfer of Custody document. When the hospital allows the adoptive parents to make medical decisions and to take the baby home with them, it does this because the birth mother has transferred authority to them. This does not mean that the hospital acknowledges that the adoptive parents have legal custody.
In most cases, the birth mother will be in the hospital from one to three days. During this time, she may want to spend time with the baby. The amount of contact a birth mother wants with the child varies considerably. Some want no contact at all, because they know they cannot handle the emotions involved. They may be afraid that if they hold the baby they will change their minds, and they want to prevent that from happening.
After the birth mother has recovered from the delivery, a social worker for the hospital will normally meet with her alone in her room. It is the job of the social worker to discuss the situation with the birth mother in a sensitive and professional manner, and to determine whether she still intends to place the child for adoption. she is given the opportunity to change her mind. This is why no one else is allowed in the room. There should be no pressure placed upon the birth mother one way or the other.
Hospital policies concerning adoptions of children born in the hospital are not uniform. Much improvement in these policies has taken place in recent years, and most Virginia hospitals now have simple and straight forward procedures. There are some hospitals, however, that have policies making adoption situations very difficult. It is important to understand the policy and to communicate with the appropriate staff in advance of the birth whenever possible.