Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Coordinating with the Hospital

Another one of the many moving parts of surrogacy is the need to coordinate with the delivery hospital.  It turns out you can't just show up, pop out a baby, and then expect the hospital to allow a totally different couple to take it home.

In our situation, it was important to all of us that my IPs be treated like the parents right from the start, and for me to be left alone without being bugged about medical or legal decisions that I had no right to make.  We also wanted to ensure that the medical staff we dealt with understand our unique situation and treat us with respect during our stay.

Our first step was to find out from our lawyer what sort of legal documents we would need to present to the hospital so that they would recognize my IPs as parents.  As I mentioned in my previous post, she said we would need to get a VAP form from the hospital and sign it (to establish IF as the biological and legal parent).  That way, he would be given the full rights to access and make medical decisions for the babies without me or my husband having to act as the middleman.  The form also allows the babies to be discharged with their parents instead of me.  Since there is no PBO in Missouri, this document is the best we can do as far as getting legal backup for our situation.

My IPs decided that if possible, they would like their own recovery room, separate from mine, where they can spend time bonding with their babies before they are discharged.  I am very happy they made this choice, because while I'm sure I will love spending time with my IPs and getting some baby snuggles in, I don't really want to have to "host" them in my room all day long while I'm recovering from delivery.  Since parents aren't allowed in the nursery and babies are generally expected to "room in" with their parents, getting their own room is really my IPs' only option to be able to spend time alone with their babies for long periods of time.

While on the hospital tour a couple weeks ago, we made sure to ask the tour guide who we would need to get in touch with to figure out how to make sure they can get their own room, and can generally be recognized as the parents by the hospital staff.  She pointed us in the direction of the nurse manager for Labor & Delivery. 

So two weeks ago, I called and got in touch with the nurse manager.  She was very nice, and assured us that as long as there were enough rooms, my IPs would be able to get their own room.  However, she was totally unfamiliar with surrogacy and had no idea about the legal forms or anything else we would need.  She seemed to think that treating the situation like an adoption would be fine, and kept on referring to me as the birth mother (um, no).  After a few promises to gather more information and call me back, and me following up after receiving no call, she finally passed me off to the hospital social worker.

The social worker was also very nice.  Unfortunately, after talking to the birth certificate department, she determined that the hospital had no idea what a VAP form was.  (As a side note - even if they've never had a surrogacy before, I find it hard to believe that they've never had a situation where the legal husband isn't the bio father of the baby.)  She said for adoptions you would normally sign a medical power of attorney form to give the adoptive parents the right to make medical decisions for the child.  I explained that that wouldn't work in our situation, because it would require me to sign away rights to a baby that I never had any rights to in the first place.  So she took down a bunch of info, said she would contact the hospital legal department and my attorney if necessary, and promised to call me back.

Amazingly, she did!  And she had good news!  The hospital legal department had contacted the powers that be, found the VAP form, and have secured it for us to sign when we arrive at the hospital to deliver.  She confirmed that IPs will get their own room (space permitting) and will both get their own bracelets to be able to access the babies whenever they want, regardless of whether I'm present.  She also told me that since she understands what's going on with us, she will serve as point person for our delivery, whenever it happens to be.  She gave me her personal pager number and told me to call it when I'm heading for the hospital.  She will then contact the medical team and make sure everyone knows what's going on.

The other thing she encouraged us to do (which my doctor also recommended) was to get a birth plan put into my file that not only states my wishes as far as labor and delivery, but has everyone's contact number and includes my IPs' wishes for what they are hoping for both during and after delivery.  That way the hospital staff can look through it and do their best to accommodate our wishes without having to ask us lots of stupid questions.

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