For the last ten months I have been the adoption coordinator at Journeys of the Heart. At first I was thinking about being at hospitals in the middle of the night and all the paperwork that would have to be done. I knew, though, since I had been the coordinator in the beginning of Journeys, that there were aspects of the job that would be difficult emotionally and some that would be sheer delight.
What I’ve found this time around is that the diversity of the women who are placing their babies for adoption is so great and it’s been an incredible honor and an education to help them when they’ve needed it. Several of the birth mothers have been homeless which presents unusual challenges for them, the agency and adopting parents. Usually prenatal care has not been received so we never know how the baby is going to be at birth. Where will they go after the placement is another challenge. Sometimes they make it clear that they don’t need any help from the agency and they will go back to their homelessness.
Drug use can be an issue with marijuana being used by many. The nurses at the hospitals say, “everyone is using it these days.” Not always true but often. Methamphetamines has long been a problem in the Pacific Northwest and it continues. The outcome for these babies can be good depending on a variety of variables. Many of these women will at least consider treatment after the baby is born.
Another category of women placing for adoption is one we haven’t seen in such numbers before – those that do not tell their families about the adoption plan, at least initially. This is done because they believe they will not be supported and may be judged and berated. Some have shared after they get home and the reaction has been upsetting, particularly when they are feeling their own grief and physical depletion.
What has happened with these placements is that the family and I become their support system at the hospital. We’ve gotten to know the women so well and the bond that is forged there is a wonderful precursor to a rich open adoption experience for everyone.
I can say that getting to know the women has been the best experience – I no longer worry about the late night hospital stays or the paperwork. I am all in emotionally and I have loved being there to support and advocate and connect. Bring it on!!
Susan Tompkins, LCSW
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