CHESAPEAKE, Va. – For Becca and William Marchant, there’s no better feeling than being a mom and dad.
“Amazing,” Becca Marchant said. “I always say it was so surreal.”
The Chesapeake couple adopted Ava as a newborn at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last May. Due to hospital restrictions, it would be several days before Dad could meet his daughter.
“They tell you it’s your kid, but you can’t see her,” said William Marchant. “You haven’t been able to hold her, never met her. Hearing about feeding her, the struggles she’s going through, but I wasn’t feeling those struggles because I couldn’t go there to be a part of any of that.”
Despite the challenges, the couple considers themselves lucky.
Infant adoption has decreased in the past year nationwide. At Adoptions From The Heart, the agency the Marchants went through, the number of expectant moms deciding to give their baby up for adoption has dropped by about 10%.
“We always say in adoption that it takes a lot of flexibility, courage and strength to go into an adoption, open adoption on all sides,” said Nicole Fowler, the Virginia supervisor with Adoptions From The Heart. “Historically, voluntary adoptions account for .5-1.0% of births, and with the birth rates continuing to decrease, the percentage of voluntary adoption decreases as well.”
Fowler said birth rates in the U.S. have been declining for years and the COVID-19 crisis is only making the problem worse, despite early predictions that more families staying home together might mean more babies.
“It was thought to be a baby boom, but it’s called a 'baby bust,'” she said. “We have the lowest birth rate in the United States in many, many years.”
Fowler said families worried about finances and their health during COVID have contributed to fewer babies.
For the Marchants, their family is now complete. Ava will soon turn 11 months old, but planning for her first birthday is already in the works.
Ava’s birth mother and biological siblings are expected to be at her birthday celebration and in her life now and for as long as she wants.
“As she grows there are going to be questions that we can’t answer, so I think having her birth family in the picture, she can reach out to them and have those conversations with them,” said Becca Marchant. “I always feel that the more people you have to love you, that can’t hurt.”
There’s still a dire need for foster families and adopting older children. Fowlers said there are at least 3,000 children in Virginia’s Foster Care system in need of a forever home.
Adoptions From The Heart is licensed in Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York State.