Nationwide Adoption Center Reports Need for More Parents
Though the world has seemingly frozen due to the Coronavirus outbreak, babies are born, adoption plans are made, and in at least one micro facet of progress in the US, things move forward. At Lifetime Adoption, a nationwide adoption center out of Florida and California, the hotlines are ringing off the hook with pregnant women from across the country making urgent, yet furtive, calls at all hours of the day and night. They’re choosing adoption for their unborn babies and children. The majority of Lifetime’s adoptions within the past seven days have been emergency adoption placements for newborns. Many of these babies are mere hours old, as new adoptive parents rush to hospitals with welcoming arms, and hearts heavy with a complex mix of emotions ranging from respect, love, and sorrow for the birth mother, and the joy of becoming parents.
An often-overlooked result of uncertain times is the increase in adoptions of infants and children, according to Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., founder of Lifetime Adoption. "This is quite common," said Caldwell, of the surge in contact from pregnant women. "We have seen it during recessions, as well as after 9/11. Women want to ensure their children are safe and cared for during uncertain times." Caldwell has personally witnessed this current-event based fluctuation in adoptions many times through her years of adoption work, beginning in 1986. This surge creates an opportunity for adopting parents and parents that have considered becoming adoptive parents to fulfill their dreams of growing their families, perhaps more quickly than is traditionally expected. "There is a surge in babies and children that need loving families and homes right now, and at Lifetime Adoption, we are doing our level best to meet demand and create more happy homes as quickly as possible." says Caldwell.
Lifetime Adoption reports that they have assisted with six births in the past seven days and several were first-time calls directly from the hospital. This is double the adoptions the center normally sees. "One woman called after giving birth the previous day. She had been thinking about adoption but had not yet made any calls. It was important to her to choose the family, and we were able to show her a variety of waiting families," Caldwell shares. "She picked one and they were there within two hours."
Typically, adoptive families zip to and fro across the nation, at a moment’s notice, to meet their new babies, completely unfettered. Normally, a woman selecting an adoptive family for her baby could choose a family from anywhere in the nation. Now, things are far from normal. The reduction of air travel has had the biggest impact on adoptions coming together.
"For us, it is important to ensure families can travel quickly. We are considering geography right now. If a family is picked from across the country, it may be difficult," Caldwell says. The agency is now factoring in whether flights will be available to get a family to a baby before discharge from the hospital, which impacts which family a birth mother can choose for her baby. For example, an adoptive family in Florida may travel more easily to a baby in Georgia or Alabama.
Some families have now come to a temporary, yet heartbreaking, pause in their adoption’s progress, or have limited areas of travel due to employer restrictions. "We have openings now for adoptive parents," stated Caldwell. "Expectant mothers sometimes have specific requests, and we always want to be able to honor them. The more adoptive parents we have in each region, the better we’ll be able to serve the growing number of babies and children that are being placed for adoption." Caldwell shared that women working with Lifetime Adoption are often seeking couples who have struggled with infertility. The requests can be more unique, such as for a family living in the country, a family who loves dogs, or one that has children already in the home, so that her baby will have siblings.
As history shows, when things change, people adapt to changing times. As a country, the Coronavirus has changed the way some aspects of adoption work. Adoptive families are finalizing adoptions via phone, rather than in court. Social workers are doing virtual home visits via video conferencing. Hospital policies for newborns and visitation are more restrictive. Yet, for Caldwell’s organization, adoptions are continuing and are even on the rise.
"At Lifetime Adoption our commitment to our birth parents is as strong as ever. We’re still available for you 24/7 by phone or text and can answer your questions and offer you the support you need." says Caldwell.