The birth of your baby is a life-changing moment shared with your family and your surrogate. But what happens after your baby has entered the world, your surrogate is ready to go home, and your baby is ready to be discharged and leave the hospital with you?
Reminders About What Happens Before Your Baby is Born
Most of the preparations for post-birth steps will be completed by your specialist and attorney.
Your American Surrogacy specialist will be in touch with your attorney before the birth to make sure that all the appropriate paperwork is sent to the hospital ahead of time. We’ll remain in touch with your attorney throughout your surrogate’s labor, delivery and recovery, in case any additional paperwork is required. We’ll notify your attorney when your baby has been born so that they can complete any paperwork needed to discharge your baby to your care during and after the hospital stay.
In many states, most (if not all) of the legal processes can be completed before the baby is even born, so everything can be sent to the hospital in advance. However, if there are any necessary legal steps after your baby’s birth, your attorney will already have walked you through those processes, and they will be ready to put the finishing touches on that paperwork once your baby is born.
If any additional documentation is required in your situation, you may need to sign some paperwork or wait for those documents to be processed. However, this still won’t affect your ability to bring home your baby after he or she is born.
Generally speaking, most intended parents’ attorneys and specialists will have things ready to go once the baby is cleared for discharge.
From there, all that’s left is to travel home. Traveling with a newborn born via surrogacy will, in most respects, be the same as bringing any new baby home. However, intended parents often ask how they should prepare. Here are five of our tips:
1. Don’t Stress Too Much about the Birth Certificate and Social Security Card
Is it likely that anyone is going to eye you suspiciously and stop you to ask for documentation proving that this is your child as you travel home? No. But getting the standard documentation sooner rather than later never hurts, for bureaucratic purposes. So obtain those items right away if you can, but if you can’t, it’s alright!
Many states allow for pre-birth surrogacy orders, in which case, your baby’s birth certificate will be ready to go with your names listed when you’re discharged from the hospital. If, however, you require post-birth measures, your attorney will complete the necessary steps to update the birth certificate with your names as soon as possible. Processing that might take a little longer, so don’t stress if it’s not available right away.
You’ll be able to apply for a social security card as soon as your baby is born, but you may need your child’s birth certificate at some offices. This can be a pain if you don’t have the birth certificate right away; you might need to wait until you get it to apply for the card. It may be helpful to have any pre- or post-birth orders on hand, just in case officials would like to see those. You can begin applying for that card on the Social Security Administration’s website.
Most parents don’t have any trouble with either step, but contact your specialist or attorney if you run into any difficulties.
2. Don’t Rush It
It’s understandable if you want to get back to “real life” with your new child, but this precious early time together is very short-lived. Additionally, there are two important reasons to take your time before heading home:
The first: More time with your surrogate and her family. This is the end of your journey together, and seeing your new family together will mean so much to her. Be sure to spend plenty of time with her while you can, even if you’re excited for some quality alone time with your own family!
The second: More time to make sure your baby is healthy and sturdy enough to travel. Newborns are surprisingly tough and ready to travel fairly quickly, but they can also benefit from a day or two of bonding time and adjusting to the world before they take their first trip. If you’re planning on flying, different airlines will have varying policies on the earliest they’ll permit an infant to fly with them, so this is something to be aware of before you book that flight.
3. Choose to Drive, If You Can
The first reason we recommend driving, if possible, is because of the aforementioned policies that airlines have regarding newborns. Some may require the baby’s birth certificate as proof of age, and if you don’t have that certificate yet, it can be an additional hurdle.
It’s absolutely possible to fly with an infant, but there are some benefits to driving your newborn home:
- Reduced exposure to illness for a new immune system
- The ability to make stops as-needed for diaper changes and feedings
- Less chance of significant travel delays
- No need for proof of age (if you’re nervous about not having all of your baby’s documentation yet)
Just like when flying, you’ll still want to follow basic newborn safety practices when driving. Otherwise, this route is fairly straightforward.
4. Bring Something to Organize Documents
Again, most of the surrogacy-related documentation will already have been sent to the hospital before the birth by your American Surrogacy specialist and your attorney. However, it never hurts to bring physical copies of relevant documentation with you to the hospital, just in case you or the hospital staff need to refer to something.
You might pack copies of:
- You and your surrogate’s preferred birth plan
- Pre-birth parentage orders (if applicable)
- Your surrogacy contract
- Insurance information for your baby
Afterwards, you’ll walk out of the hospital with a new baby — and a lot of papers. You may receive:
- A list of immunizations
- A list of health screenings and panels completed
- Your baby’s birth stats
- Doctor’s notes
- Discharge papers
- Pamphlets for new parents to help with the care of their newborn
- A birth certificate, in some situations
- And more
Having a folder of some sort where you can safely store and access these papers — alongside whatever surrogacy-related documentation you brought with you as a just-in-case measure — will likely be helpful.
5. Follow Standard Safety and Packing Tips
Parents everywhere will have plenty of advice for you when it comes to packing for the hospital and the trip home. The biggest differences in your situation: You won’t need to pack for postpartum care, and you’ll want to pack some extra clothes and supplies in case you’re in the hospital for a while.
Of course, the most important things you’ll need to have ready before you head out of the hospital with your baby include:
- An approved carrier/car seat, preferably already installed
- A stocked diaper bag
- Breastmilk (and something to transport it in), formula or a combination of both
- Diapers and wipes
- Extra clothes
- Plenty of cloths and rags
- Bottles (remember that you can always clean them on-the-go, if you need to, so don’t overpack)
- Some plastic bags to temporarily seal up dirty spit-up rags and clothes
Resist the urge to pack the cute, unnecessary things. For now, just make sure that your baby is safe, comfortable, warm and fed as you travel home. Keep your own bags packed with strictly practical and comfortable items, too.
If you have any questions, or you’re uncertain about preparing to travel home with your surrogacy-born newborn, you can always ask your American Surrogacy specialist, or check in with parents who have been in your shoes!