The role of an Interim Care Volunteer is not always an easy one, but they all agree that it is certainly rewarding. Spence-Chapin’s Interim Care Program provides a unique and important service to birth parents, offering them time and space to work with one of our social workers on a plan for the future while knowing their baby is being cared for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, in the home of one of our trained volunteer families. And if caring for a newborn was not enough of a challenge, now our Interim Care Volunteers are navigating a COVID-19 world and the many precautions and protocols that come with it. Spence-Chapin has not paused its support and services to birth parents and adoptive families alike, which means that the Interim Care Program is running as usual—just with a few more safeguards.
Unsurprisingly, however, our volunteers are not only managing—they are thriving—and enjoying the opportunity to continue to help our birth parents, even through a pandemic.
“Baby care is not too much different since the pandemic,” admits Laura, who has been a volunteer for four years, along with her husband of 31 years, Mark. “The biggest precaution we take is washing our hands…and washing our hands and washing our hands!” she laughs.
“As a family, we have been staying home and limiting our outside access as a much as possible, and we continue to do so with a baby in our home.”
For Laura, when she says, “family,” she means everybody, as her adult children are currently staying with them during the pandemic, and everyone is schooling or working from home.
“This means a lot of togetherness, which has been a blessing…mostly,” Laura jokes. “It is a remarkably interesting time, and we are finding our new normal.”
Similarly, volunteer Tammy has also not found the safety measures to be too difficult. “We have not really had to take any extra precautions since we rarely leave the house,” she explains.
“But when we do go to the grocery store, we always wear masks and wash our hands with sanitizing wipes once we get into the car, and then again when we get home.”
In fact, Tammy and her family have found that having a newborn in the house during the pandemic can actually be a positive thing: “It definitely gives everyone something to focus on and enjoy together. It has actually been wonderful having a baby during this time.”
Even more so than the joy from providing care to newborns who need it, is the contentment that comes from knowing how much this program helps birth parents. As volunteer Ann put it plainly, “The need to help isn’t elimination in a pandemic, and our inclination to help is not removed.”
Almost forty newborns have been cared for by Ann and her family over the years. In fact, each family member is involved in the caring for the babies—from their feedings, to the changing of diapers, and soothing the babies, including Ann’s teenage children. Since the beginning of the pandemic, two babies have already passed through her loving care.
For Ann, the hardest part, even before the pandemic, is saying goodbye. But now with social distancing, that moment feels even more bittersweet than usual.
“[During placement] I was not able to hand the baby to the family and hug them,” she laments. But she was able to share information about the baby with the adoptive family prior to placement, which she
always finds gratifying. She also expressed to the family that she would be available by phone if the family wanted to stay in touch, something she always offers, and that many families do take her up on.
Spence-Chapin is so grateful to the remarkable families that volunteer for our Interim Care Program. They play an incredibly important role for birth parents and adoptive families by caring for their newborns as they await their forever homes.
Even during these unprecedented times, they are not only willing but excited to continue to help.
Perhaps volunteer Laura put it best: “We agreed to care for a baby during this pandemic because they still need us. No matter what is going on in the world, babies are born, mothers need help, babies need love, and mothers need time. None of this stops because of a pandemic.”
To learn more about Spence-Chapin’s Interim Care Program, or about our services to birth parents and adoptive families, please contact us at [email protected].