As a birth parent caseworker in Houston, I am used to meeting with my expectant mothers face to face in their homes or in a public place where we can plan their adoptions. However, COVID-19 came to town and abruptly halted our way of meeting. How do I provide the services and the attention that my clients need at this time of crisis in the community (and the world!)?
Thank goodness for technology! My expectant moms all have phones, and we are able to communicate every day either by text (their preferred way of keeping in touch), talk, or video chat. Other than going to their doctor appointments and getting groceries, they are staying put at home, often with their children home now that schools are canceled. I am happy to report that my expectant moms are not panicking! They are listening to their doctors, taking care of themselves and their children, and washing their hands and sanitizing their environments to the best of their abilities.
My clients are taking the time to rest! One of my clients is 8 ½ months pregnant and needs this time to find ways to be physically comfortable. At first when the news hit that we were experiencing a pandemic, one client panicked and picked up the phone fast! We discussed ways to stay safe, and she just wanted to know if this virus was going to eventually go away. I told her yes, we just need to be patient and safe. She is able to communicate with her adoptive parents by phone, and behind the scenes I am coordinating with the adoptive parents’ caseworker in Fort Worth, to make this labor, delivery, and placement run smoothly in the midst of the pandemic.
What is going to happen at the hospital when she checks in for her c-section? I don’t know at this moment, but I’m trying to find out. Everything changes on a dime these days, so we may not know who can be in the delivery room, who can visit with her (and how many at a time can visit), if the adoptive parents can ‘room in’ at the hospital, how we will have witnesses at the relinquishment signing….lots of unknowns! Instead of panicking, I am taking this one day at a time and keeping informed. The social worker at the hospital has already heard from me and I’m waiting to hear back from her. My goal is to keep this line of communication open so I can prepare my expectant mom. Knowledge is power; knowing what is going to happen will surely help all of us in this time of anxiety.
I have another expectant mom who will look through profile books to select the adoptive family for her baby girl scheduled to make her arrival in the world in June. A Fort Worth caseworker put the profile books in the mail, and my expectant mom already received notice from Fed-Ex that her package will arrive Monday. (It was scheduled for Friday but is delayed – and I don’t think anyone would be surprised by that!). My expectant mom and I will talk on the phone and discuss the families, and once she makes her decision, I will let the adoptive parent caseworkers know and take it from there. We can arrange a call for sure between the expectant mom and the adoptive parents she chooses, and then we can get creative and do a face-to-face meeting via computer. I will be contacting our wonderful IT department for help with that so we can get everyone on the screen. Yes, this will be a first, but I’m ready to make it happen!
How long will this go on? When will life return to normal? No one knows. However, I am confident that we at Gladney are going to make sure that our birth parents’ needs are met, that our newest babies come into this world safely, and that our adoptive parents are informed and where they physically need to be when their babies are ready to meet them.