A FRIEND’S STORY: A birth bom and a family in need
Laurie Townsend trained as a Friend in 2000 and has been matched with several birth moms, including Carla.*
Birthmothers: Tell us about Carla.
Laurie: Carla was 20 years old and 7 months’ pregnant when we were matched. She lived at home with her mother, step dad and sisters. Carla has a brain injury, the result of surgery for a congenital tumor. Her mental capabilities are of a 12- or 13-year-old, and she struggles with short-term memory.
Birthmothers: What led Carla to Birthmothers?
Laurie: Her mom, Jeanine, encouraged her to call. The baby’s father wasn’t in the picture, and Carla has limitations. Jeanine knew the family would need help when the baby arrived.
Birthmothers: Explain Jeanine’s situation.
Laurie: In addition to caring for her husband, two daughters and Carla, she works full time in computer support for a government contracting company. But her income is low, and benefits are limited.
Birthmothers: How were you able to help Carla?
Laurie: I took Carla to her appointments. She had regular check-ups with her obstetrician, of course, and also with her psychologist. This lifted a tremendous burden off Jeanine, who had already used up her personal leave days from work and couldn’t afford to miss any more.
Birthmothers: By the time you met Carla, had she decided to keep the baby?
Laurie: She’d decided to give birth. However, she occasionally wavered between parenting and adoption.
Birthmothers: Describe how you presented the avenues available to her.
Laurie: I wanted Carla to understand what parenting is like, so I brought her to my home to spend a day with me, my toddler and my 6-month-old. Amid the chaos, we went over some parenting resources from Birthmothers, such as caring for babies, finances and schedules. Carla knew she’d have difficulty remembering the information, so she recorded important points in her notebook.
Birthmothers: What else did you discuss?
Laurie: In order to be thorough, I presented the adoption option. I told Carla my own adoption story; I was raised in a loving home by two wonderful adoptive parents, and in young adulthood, I connected with my birth mom. Since then, both of my adoptive parents have passed away. I told Carla that I feel especially blessed because I have had two sets of parents who truly loved me. This way, Carla could see a clear picture of two kinds of love: the love required for parenting and the love required to place a baby for adoption.
Birthmothers: Tell us what happened when Carla decided to parent.
Laurie: I was able to connect Carla and Jeanine with practical resources they would need after the baby’s birth – assistance in the home, food stamps and transportation.
Birthmothers: What did you learn from being Carla’s Friend?
Laurie: I realized how important the Friend relationship can be for the birth mom’s family. Jeanine was desperate to develop a network of resources. She repeatedly thanked me for pointing her toward those that could help. I learned that a Friend is an extension of Christ’s love. God has a plan for each of these women and their families. I’m privileged to be a part of His solution.
*name changed for confidentiality