In this context, community based care refers to receiving support services from a professional who holds shared identities and experiences with their clients. These commonalities enhance the cultural competency of their professional services and foster stronger, more comfortable connections between client and provider as well as clearer communication.
I focus my practice on serving individuals and families who share my identities and experiences because I know first hand how these things may impact one's experience of navigating the healthcare system. As a queer, gender non-conforming person who chose adoption, I faced unique challenges while navigating a heteronormative healthcare system, and wish to use my experience to support others who may encounter the same.
I am not an advocate for nor against adoption. I am an advocate of reproductive justice, which demands that all people have freedom of choice in making reproductive decisions. Freedom of choice demands that the options from which a person may choose - pregnancy, parenting, abortion, adoption - all be accessible. For parenting to truly be an accessible option, people considering it must be able to access affordable prenatal care, safe communities and housing in which to raise their children, clean water and air, adequate parental leave, and financial compensation for the work of child rearing. All too often, these things are not within reach, which creates a pressure to relinquish the opportunity to parent. Even in the least coercive of circumstances, separation from a child, even immediately after birth, is a trauma for the birthing parent and the child. I consider my work in supporting all people involved in adoption to make these events as positive and supportive as possible, a matter of harm reduction. It is important to note that adoptive parents personally are not responsible for creating the social circumstances that push so many pregnant people to relinquish, however, we are all responsible for creating a more equitable world in which everyone has the opportunity to build family as they see fit. Adoption as an institution is a separate and much larger beast from any individual family, and I am prepared to support all families, including all members of the adoption triad, with open mindedness, compassion, and love.
Separation day refers to the day a birthing person says goodbye to the baby they carried and custody is transferred to adoptive or intended parents. This may be the day the baby is born, or several days later depending on the birth setting (for example, upon discharge from a hospital). This is an emotional day when the birthing person will experience significant hormonal shifts and may need extra support.
The benefits of the support of a doula are many, centered in, but also reaching beyond the event of birth. The care of a doula is shown to support more positive outcomes for both the birthing person and baby, which becomes ever more important when the anticipation of a trauma is attached to process of labor and birth. Even in the most confidently connected adoption plans, separation from one’s baby is a traumatic event. Providing anticipatory and immediate support for a birthing person in this position can aid in processing the event and dealing with grief, and provide them with a committed witness in what is often an extremely isolating event. This support may increase the potential to sustain an open relationship with their child’s adoptive family with greater manageability and less strain. Research has shown that ongoing contact through open adoption leads to better adjustment and satisfaction in adoptees, a goal naturally shared by both birth and adoptive parents.
No. In adoption, like in birth, and in life, nothing is promised. Even when a potential match is made before birth, a pregnant person's baby is their baby until they choose to place, after birth. Placement is never guaranteed, this is the cost associated with the privilege of having the opportunity to raise a child that someone else brought onto earth . The role of a doula is not to convince or persuade a pregnant person on the extremely personal decision of whether to parent or to place; the role of the doula is to provide the needed support for the best possible outcomes in the process of labor and birth. While all potential adoptions come with this uncertainty, the support of a doula is a benefit to all birthing people and their babies. Providing this support is indicative of investment in that specific value - the best thing for the baby - whether it leads to the fulfillment of our personal wishes or not.
Because we know that open adoptions support the best outcomes for adoptees and birth parents, I see it as within the scope of my work to provide any support that may ease the transition period from birth to placement and into relationship building. This may look like: postpartum visits with the birth parent; facilitating milk delivery; post placement visits with the adoptive family and supporting infant care; attending early visits between birth and adoptive families; providing post visit support to birth families; identifying additional sources of support for birth and adoptive families and making referrals.
There is no blueprint, no rulebook for how to handle the early stages of relationship building in an adoption triad, or how to maintain the relationship long term. While I cannot tell you that there is one best way to do this, I can reflect back my observations, assist in crafting ideas and strategies, and hold space for the emotions of all involved while keeping the long term goals in sight.
Welcome a new baby home is a huge adjustment! The support of a doula during this time may include: overnight shifts so new parents can sleep; meal prep and light housework; support with infant feeding and sourcing human milk if needed; playdates and focused care for older children.
Generally, no. Open adoptions produce more psychological benefits for all involved in the process, and for this reason are my priority. Exceptions may be made on a case by case basis when birth parents express a strong desire for a closed or mediated adoption. I am not a fit for prospective adoptive parents who are specifically seeking a closed adoption regardless of a match.
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