Programs for Moms at Hopeful Beginnings
Hopeful Beginnings was known as St. Mary’s. They were mostly known as an adoption agency. As most of you know, adoption numbers are decreasing. We like to spread the word that we have professional social workers to discuss the options of an unplanned pregnancy. We don’t put pressure, nor do we stress women out with our own agenda. Our true agenda is to empower each woman that comes to us so that she can make her own decision at her own pace. Our social workers meet with the women in person, if possible, and talk about the pros and cons of both adoption and parenting. The women formulate their own list and if they need assistance in formulating that list, the social worker will work with them side by side. We come to where you are comfortable if you are in the Chicagoland area or outlying suburbs. If you wish to have a telehealth appointment, you may see us that way. If you are in Central or Southern Illinois, we are happy to meet with you in person once or twice, then work with you by telehealth means. When you are ready to deliver, we are available to come to the hospital where you will deliver. If you need support, we will be present for the entire labor and delivery process. Then, we sit with you for more conversations and talk about what decision that you have come to. We talk about the realistic grief that you will experience. If you choose adoption, we are available to counsel you once a week or until you decide that you are ready to spring forward. Our doors are always open for a lifetime as you are a birth mother and may need assistance as issues may trigger you during the adoption anniversary or other various dates. I have talked with other agencies and they have a time limit for counseling. We are dedicated to you and want you to succeed. Therefore, if you are not ready immediately for counseling, we are available when you are ready. We are available for a lifetime, if you need us. We offer a small scholarship for education, if you choose to adopt. It is much easier for parenting moms to receive a grant or scholarship, but when you adopt, it may not be so readily available to help you with your financial well-being for school.
Being a birth mom is the most unselfish move for your baby. We don’t ever say that you are giving your baby up. That verbiage indicates that you don’t care about your baby. The verbiage is rather that you love your baby so much that you want the very best for them, and at the moment, you are unable to give them the things that they need. Your wish is that your baby has a financially and emotionally stable family that is willing to raise your child. We have workshops with our adoptive parents to discuss open adoption and what it looks like. We also do not accept families that want to have a closed adoption. A closed adoption means that the child is raised without visits, letters, or correspondence. Statistics show that an open adoption is super healthy for the child. According to VerywellFamilies.com, they address the pro’s of Open Adoptions that I would like to share with you:
Answers to the Big Questions
Because the adoptee will have some contact with their birth family, they will not have the feeling of a “missing piece” in their life that some adoptees describe. They will also have the opportunity to ask the big question, “why was I placed for adoption?” The need to fantasize or romanticize birth family circumstances is then removed from the equation, and the adopted child can grow up with the truth. This is talked about from the time they are little. Children need to know that they are adopted in terms that they can understand from the very beginning.
Link to Heritage and Ancestry
The adoptee within an open adoption will also have access to background on their heritage and ancestry. They will be able to claim that information as a piece of their identity.
Wider Circle of Family and Support
The adoptee within an open adoption may have more family to provide love and support. The adoptive family may also be grateful for the extra support provided by others who love their child. If this entire situation is accepted and embraced by all parties, with no fear, it is normalized by your child. If it is approached with love, it becomes a beautiful thing for birth parent, adoptive parent, and child. I have seen incredible examples of ideal adoption.
Medical Information Readily Available
Many adoptees lack access to basic medical background information regarding physical, mental, and emotional health issues in their biological family. This information can be vital to helping medical personnel make informed decisions on behalf of their patients. If there is ongoing conversations throughout the child’s life, they will get more medical information. Frequently, children are adopted and birth parents are at the height of good health, in their 20’s and 30’s. As a birth parent ages, medical issues surface. It is extremely important for adoptees to have this information to prevent problems before they happen. We were fortunate to meet my husband’s birth family and they were able to discuss medical conditions that the family had. Doctor’s want a complete medical history profile and if you don’t know the birth family, this cannot happen. The medical model is to treat when issues come up as opposed to the prevention model. An example, if you know that your birth mom is a diabetic, a well balanced diet and exercise program would be a great lifestyle for you to embrace as an adoptee.
No Need to Search
Many adoptees do not know the details of their adoption story, which is the narrative of how their life began. An adoptee in an open adoption will have this information and will not have to wait in anticipation through an adoption search, if it is available. Adoption searches can exhaust a person in many ways, both emotionally and financially.
The process of adoption is an interesting one. I want to share with you some of the legal rights of a woman who chooses to place for adoption goes through. Many people think that it is a done deal right after she delivers and that she is not allowed to see her child in the hospital. That definitely is the old school way of doing things. Today, we give women choices if they want to spend time with their baby before separating from them. In fact, the birth moms make all of the medical decisions for their infants, such as Hepatitis B vaccines, circumcisions, and other various medical procedures. Legally, that child belongs to the birth mom. 72 hours after birth, the birth mother can sign her surrenders. If she doesn’t because she wants to have a little more time, we have what we call Interim Homes. Interim Homes have been given a complete home study, given a federal and state background check of each member of the family, and has multiple visits by our social workers to ensure that an Interim Family is safe and appropriate to have infants and children up to 4 years old in their home. The birth mom signs a consent placing that child in an interim home. If surrenders are signed, Hopeful Beginnings take custody of the child, and places the child in the home of the adoptive family that she chose. The parents in the Interim Home or adoptive family agree to not take the child out of state, and if the baby is ill and is taken to the ER or hospital, we are notified immediately and are the go between to speak with the doctor. They also take the infant to the doctor within 2 to 3 days for a check-up after birth and act as their guardian. Children are usually placed with an Interim Family for approximately 2-14 days, although in unusual or extreme circumstances where it is necessary, they have been known to take care of the baby for months at a time, in which the family is chosen by the birth mom, surrenders are signed and we get the all clear to proceed. The most advantageous and healthy way for adoption to occur is to establish a permanent placement with the adoptive family. Bonding skin to skin and developing a relationship with the child is the best for attachment to begin. Attachment is so important for normal child development. There are so many attachment disorders if children were not nurtured and loved at the beginning of their lives. After a couple of weeks after placement occurs, between 2 weeks and 1 month, we ask both the adoptive family and birth family to meet at our agency or near the birth mom’s home at a library, rectory of a church, or the best place in the social worker’s estimation for this important meeting to occur. This meeting is truly unnerving for both parties. Both are nervous, both are worried that they will say the “wrong thing” or there will be an outburst. Quite frankly, the adoptive family has their own social worker from our agency and the birth family has their own social worker from our agency so that they will be counseled before this meeting and feel supported both before, during, and after the meeting. We work very hard to provide counseling in order to go ahead with open adoption. Children brought up in families that know that they are adopted and that “the birth story is told to them, such as your Mommy loved you so much, she chose us to care for you because she couldn’t do so at that time.” Then, the adoptive family keeps the birth mother’s picture in their room, or in a scrapbook, so that the child always knows his or her story. In fact, children love their own story and love to hear it from their adoptive parents. We usually have the meetings at our agency supervised by us but as the birth mom and the adoptive family feel more comfortable, they can start to meet together without us. If safety is ever an issue, we keep the meetings at the agency. Also, we are there for the adoptive family for anything unusual that happens at their meetings. Our role is education, counseling, and guidance.
As a Director of the Agency, I always received glowing reports on how Allyson or Julia, brought my family together and they were forever grateful to Allyson or Julia. This position that they hold is more than a job, it is a labor of love for the social workers that do the adoptions. We also have a bilingual counselor who is wonderful to work with for the birth mother. Our Executive Director, Natalie Rodriguez, is bilingual Spanish, so if both sides are Spanish Speaking Only, then Natalie jumps right in. I have done many adoptions and worked with either birth parents or adoptive parents and it has been a true honor and mission.
Adoption is the hardest thing that a woman can do, therefore we feel she is brave and courageous to do the right thing for her and the baby. If the mom feels that she has enough support in parenting her child, then we will begin to work with her throughout the infancy stage. Sometimes we have women experiencing prenatal and postpartum anxiety and depression. If the woman is feeling any of those things or is having difficulty transitioning to motherhood, we take them on as a client. All of our counseling services are free and do not require insurance or Medicaid. We are one of the only free women’s counseling center in the Northwest Suburban Areas of Chicago. If a woman chooses to learn about her resources in her area, we take her on as a Case Management Client. She will learn how to apply for the LINK CARD, use WIC services, apply for the Medicaid card for herself and her baby, and have access to our Baby Closet. Once a month, our baby closet will give you free diapers, wipes, formula, and clothing to help you get through the month. Emergency Formula to supplement what WIC gives you is available. We try and empower women to go to the different agencies to help themselves. If LINK is not enough for food for their families, we encourage them to go to their Townships to go to their Food Pantries. Oftentimes Food Pantries are available to people at Churches, as well.
One of the saddest things that we see is when a woman loses a baby as a miscarriage, stillbirth, or a death of the baby right after birth. We try and schedule women for counseling almost immediately after we receive their self-referral or doctor referral to get started for Grief and Loss Counseling. This type of counseling is a real art. Not everyone can do this, but our social workers have been educated to do so. This type of counseling is also available in Spanish. We give them ideas to deal with their husbands who are oftentimes going through the same thing, grief and loss. A deep postpartum depression also can result. We are ready and waiting to work with your doctor to help you through a frank conversation with your doctor about how much progress that we have gotten through counseling. If we feel that medication may be in order, we ask you to consult with your obstetrician for an evaluation for medication. Counseling and medication is the key to a quicker recovery because the chemistry of your body after delivering a baby, miscarriage, or a stillbirth has changed. You may not have to take medication for the rest of your life, but rather to get you through a difficult period. Some people call this an adjustment disorder because of a transition in life. All of your hopes and dreams of having this child are destroyed. We prepare you for what to say to people who say hurtful things that you are not prepared for. They don’t mean it, but they want to say something because they honestly don’t know what to say to you. Frequently, the women that we have counseled will call us in a year or two, telling us that they are pregnant, or have delivered a healthy baby boy or girl. Many clients tell us that our counseling feels like they are coming home into a warm and inviting environment, whether in person or telehealth!
Now we understand what the typical birth mom goes through emotionally. But each woman is different and each adoption is different and each adopted family is different. Of course, we have policies and procedures, yet treat each woman as an individual and embrace their differences. Everyone comes from a different family system or no family, has a wonderful support system or no support system, and has education or no education. But the bottom line is that each woman having an unplanned pregnancy needs support, acceptance, and learning empowerment to make her own decisions, not ours. They have to live with their decisions. We can guide, mentor, but not make any other human decision that will impact someone else. We have many of their answers, but it is much more powerful when they come to the conclusion on their own with support. To us, the worse thing we hear is that any adoption agency puts pressure on them in order to fulfill their own wishes.
Women during or after pregnancy, due to hormonal changes, fear of the birth and the future, etc. may go through anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum or depression either time or both. We are here to help with counseling and we are willing to work with your physician or health care provider and/or outside therapist. We are fortunate in our area as we have Amita’s Alexian Brothers Hoffman Estate campus, postpartum depression unit. It is the only one in Illinois. We do receive many of our referrals from their program. We are the only ones that provide free counseling for this turbulent time in their lives. When removing the barrier of payment, women are flocking to receive treatment free of charge. We invite anyone having problems finding counseling to phone our office at 847-870-8181 that’s 847-870-8181. You can also go on our website for more information. You can expect the phone to be answered by one of the staff when the office is open and just ask for counseling. The person on the other end of the phone will start asking questions and will send you paperwork to fill out and then someone will call you back to make an appointment after your forms are filled out and returned. We have an operator answering phone calls off hours. If you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, tell the operator and she will connect you with a social worker who can speak with you immediately. For all other issues, if you leave your name and phone number, someone will get back to you in 24 hours or on the weekends, Monday.
Now even if you really really always dreamed of being a mom, you might find yourself having difficulty adjusting to motherhood. It doesn’t mean that you don’t want your baby. You may have been working full time and then some and were in a routine for years. In fact, I would venture to say that you had a fine routine of getting up, going to work, even working 7 days a week and you were a star. Your pregnancy was exciting, you even read books. Your co-workers teased you about getting ready not to sleep when the baby comes. So for all practical purposes you were on a roll and got used to being pregnant after going through your first trimester morning nausea. Again, you have this down. And then the magical moment of delivering your baby was almost an ethereal feeling afterwards and you went through the process in the hospital. You had your line of support, your nurses, your lactation consultant in the hospital. You did ok with having your own room with the baby in the bassinet beside you. Your husband came in and out of your room and look at what you have, a beautiful family. Then, the moment of reality hits, yes, that is going home without someone there to talk with and ask questions to. Perhaps you didn’t have the perfect mom or you were an only child, or even, you were the youngest child. Maybe you didn’t babysit when you were younger. The idea of a baby was always beautiful to you and you believed you had a perfect world. Or, so you thought, until you got home. Your mom may or may not be there for you and your husband thought you had it all together, but, something stopped you dead in your tracks. You started to realize that you were totally responsible for another little being’s life. Nutrition, health, stimulation, toys, illness, what does day to day look like and what I am I supposed to do all day. Work feels normal, being home does not. Your world has suddenly turned upside down. Maybe you even look forward to getting back to work. You go to your doctor and she asks you questions and you are totally honest with her. She sits down and looks at you in your eyes and asks if you might like to talk with someone to help you out of this funk. She heard about Hopeful Beginnings and makes a referral. You are scared out of your mind that you are that woman. Then, you get the courage to make THE CALL. You have your appointment and you don’t even have to go into the office. You can stay in the comfort of your home and it feels like talking with a friend. Your social worker will give you homework, like journaling so you can see where you are and visually see your progress. After a few weeks, you start to feel better. It takes time and diligence, but you take a few steps forward and one step back. You keep going in that cadence and suddenly, you get up in the morning and see the sunshine. The first inkling of happiness starts to creep into your persona. You and your counselor discuss potential discharge and meet every other week, then once a month just to check in and you are ready to launch. It is a beautiful transition and you enjoy being a mom. So this is a bird’s eye view of what difficulty transitioning into motherhood looks like. We bring you out of the darkness of difficulty and into the light of knowing just what to do.
I do remember being an OB nurse and then bringing my son home from the hospital and it took me 2 hours to feed and diaper him. I felt totally helpless and nervous. Just to share with you, I was the expert educator in the hospital with women, but when I had my own…It was totally different. We have now recognized difficulty adjusting to motherhood and it is acceptable, just like postpartum anxiety and depression. Our agency looks at motherhood and have programs to meet you and your baby’s needs. As of March 1st you will have the choice of meeting through telehealth or meeting at our office in Palatine. All you need is a phone that supports Zoom or just talk on it and you are set for your first appointment. If you are in the city, you don’t have to feel pressured to come in! We will give you resources that you can use in your area. Please don’t prolong the state that you are in, just call 847-870-8181. That is 847-870-8181.
Hopeful Beginnings also offers a Teen Parenting Program through one of the largest Northwest Suburban High School District. This program has facilitated students to increase attendance, graduate on time and go on to a 2 year college, trade school, 4 year university and complete their career dreams. This program does NOT condone or promote pregnancy during high school. As in many other alternative programs offered through schools, the Hopeful Beginnings teen parenting program takes the students where they are at and provides one-on-one and group experiences that provide the support that they need in order to be successful during high school. It provides a safe arena to verbalize their difficulties and challenges in life and to find alternatives to being successful. Students understand that they need to find ways to provide financially and emotionally for their child and become contributing members of society. Just as high schools have alternative programs for alternative needs of students, this is an incident in which becoming pregnant has serious consequences if not addressed. I was in charge of this program for 22 years and was asked to partner with the District when I became Director of our Agency. The numbers of pregnant and parenting students went down, and graduation rates of these students went up.
You can reach Hopeful Beginnings at 847-870-8181
Services: https://www.hopefulbeginning.org/maternity-services/Back To Blog