What is Cradle Care?
Cradle care refers to licensed caregivers that offer interim care to newborn children waiting for adoption. During this time, the birth parents and/or adoptive parents can visit the child in the cradle care home, until the adoption agency finalizes the adoption process. Cradle care families are required to provide a loving and nurturing environment for the time the child is in their care. As a voluntary position, cradle families receive a small stipend for their services. Depending on the state, cradle care families must complete core training and certification in infant care. Some agencies offer extensive monthly training to ensure the cradle family provides the best care possible to the newborn baby.
The Birth Parents
Choosing to give up your child for adoption is hard. Once you decide to give up your child, the adoption agency you work with might take time before placing your child into a new family. Between the birth and the placement, your child goes into foster care, where both you and the adoptive family have visitation rights. Depending on the agency you are working with, you might have a few weeks to change your mind; after these waiting period lapses, the child is legally a member of the adoptive family.
During this period, your adoptive agency will offer you counseling to help you deal with the stress and fear of letting go of your birth child. You will experience emotional and physical stress, and you need a strong support system to help you come to terms with the decision. During this period, you can trust the cradle care family to offer a suitable environment for the child, with the option of visiting your child as often as necessary.
The Foster Family
Foster families willing to care for infants have a responsibility to provide a safe and nurturing home for the child. During this period, you must commit to taking the child to all their appointments at the clinic, and to receiving both the adoptive and birth parents when they visit the child. Depending on the agency and the adoptive process, you might have to take care of the child for a few days or weeks after which the child now belongs to the adoptive parents and the agency may request them to stop visiting, as they complete the adoption process.
If you choose to provide cradle care, every adult in the family must undergo background and health checks, including criminal record screenings. Choosing to provide cradle care is a serious commitment; you must be in a position to take care of the baby 24/7. Agencies might also ask you to document important milestones through pictures or to keep a diary based on your day-to-day observations.
The prospect of finalizing your adoption is exciting; however, even after the birth of a child, you might have to wait a few days or weeks before you can welcome your new baby home. During this period, the child will go into cradle care with the foster family, where you will have visitation rights. You can see the child every other week and even accompany the family as they go for check-ups at the clinic. However, this is also a trying time for you as the birth parents might change their mind and choose to keep the child; in addition to the counseling provided by the agency, you need support from your loved ones.
Cradle care offers a temporary home to an infant where the birth parent can say goodbye slowly as the new parents make final preparations to welcome the child home. Some agencies will charge a fee to the adoptive parents to care for the child’s cradle care or offer to cover the costs through donations. Depending on what role you play in the child’s life during cradle care, Your First Look will offer you the counseling and support you need.