VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The presumably brave but difficult decision to place a baby for adoption was tough for many birth parents in a pre-pandemic world. During the COVID-19 crisis, some coping with that decision found that has been even more challenging.
“I think for all of us this has been kind of an isolating time, and that’s no different in an unplanned pregnancy,” said Kristen Schlee, a pregnancy counselor with Bethany Christian Services. “It’s already kind of an isolating time for women that are facing that.”
Bethany Christian Services is an adoption agency that has locations across the country, including a center in Virginia Beach known as Bethany of Virginia. The adoption agency provides support and vital resources to women facing an unplanned pregnancy.
“When she comes to us, our role is to just get her to take a deep breath and to think through what all of her options are and to know that whatever she decides, we will walk her through that decision and support her all the way,” said Schlee.
According to Schlee, the uncertainty surrounding the start of COVID-19 led to increased levels of stress, loneliness and anxiety.
“The restrictions that there are at hospitals and doctor’s offices and places where we used to be able to go in to provide that hands-on support with women dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, sometimes we’re not allowed to go in anymore,” Schlee said. “Sometimes the conditions under which we’re allowed to go in are very different, so we have had to be extremely creative in the ways that we are able to provide that support for her.”
Schlee said many of the expectant moms who come to Bethany don’t have a strong support group or guidance and are afraid of judgment.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” she said. “It’s a lifetime of healing that birth parents go [through]."
Bethany offers free monthly virtual support groups to help people begin the healing process.
“What I want to make sure people understand is how incredibly brave and courageous birth mothers are, birth parents,” said Schlee. “When they make a decision to make an adoption plan, it is not out of selfishness; it is not out of laziness. It is always out of love. I have always seen women and men make these choices because they love their children so much and they want what’s best for their children. They want something for their children that they don’t feel capable of providing at this time. There’s a lot of misinformation. It is a loving, courageous choice.”
According to Bethany, nearly all of domestic adoptions are open adoptions.
For more information, click here or call 1-800-BETHANY.