Abrazo truly has a heart for birthmothers, and when people ask what makes Abrazo different from other agencies, that’s what comes to mind.
Years ago, adoption agencies were largely an outgrowth of orphanages and foundling homes, and their focus was on caring for children and getting adoptive parents placed with the children that best met their needs.
So those agencies served children and adoptive parents, but the birthparents were considered nothing more than a means to their ends. Once papers were signed and the child was placed, the support services for the birthparents ended abruptly, and so did any contact the adoptive families may have had with them.
Those birthparents were left to suffer in silence, and many did– for decades on end.
(That’s so not how it is here at Abrazo.)
A Different Adoption Agency
At Abrazo, the mothers who place children here are family to us. We get to know them well prior to placement and welcome them like the sisters they are here. We don’t want them to “just disappear” after placement (and we don’t want to place children with the kind of people who secretly or not-so-secretly hope they’ll do so, either.)
We rejoice in their successes. We agonize over their hardships. Our counseling program and our birthparent support group meetings are always available to birthmothers, whether they placed here or elsewhere, and to see Abrazo birthparents back at Homecoming or at Camp Abrazo is like old home week for us. Even when they’re not proud of their circumstances, we’re still proud of them, and we want them to know it.
Having a heart for birthmothers doesn’t say anything about the agency, though. What it really says is that the first mothers with whom our agency works are women truly worth getting to know, and worth staying in touch with, for the long haul. They have grit and guts and grace and resilience. We all can learn much from them. They have faced down some of life’s greatest challenges, fallen off the horse at times and gotten themselves back up and in the saddle, for their kids’ sakes. Many of the birthmoms with whom we work have battled motherlessness and addiction and poverty and abuse and self-doubt and dysfunction and risen like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes.
A Different Kind of Social Worker
It takes a special kind of social worker to serve the diverse needs of the birthparent community, and Abrazo is most fortunate to find and hire social workers who truly have a heart for birthmothers.
Like Rachel, for instance. She’s an LMSW, which means she went through a whole lot of schooling to learn to serve the needs of others, but beyond her credentials and her resume, Rachel is a hardworking and strong woman of faith, with spunk and style and wit and wisdom well beyond her years. Her love language is service, and in a day’s time, she can twist her hair into countless perfect styles. She loves camping and hiking, and she wears vintage-style clothing with dangly earrings featuring Van Gogh or Frida Kahlo, and she’s the kind of resourceful person you would definitely want in your canoe even if you’d lost all the paddles in the rapids.
Rachel doesn’t see it as her responsibility to compel women to surrender their children for adoption. (Trust us, she’d be out of here if she thought this was expected of her.) If you ask Rachel, she’ll be the first to tell you that her job is about supporting females as they make their own best choices for themselves and their children, and helping them find whatever resources and support they need along the way to their chosen destination (and beyond.) We appreciate this about her, because Rachel approaches her work as a calling (and this is why she often makes herself available to our clients beyond her paid work hours, even when she probably shouldn’t.)
She finds her clients medical care, and housing, and gets them to their prenatal appointments and creates special memories for them along the way, too, just because that’s how she is. She gets them tacos and listens to their guy problems and helps them search for opportunities when needed, and she even went the extra mile to once handpaint an eggshell to make a gender reveal extra awesome. Her work takes her into hospitals and jails and sometimes, the sort of neighborhoods that make less-hardy professionals steer clear. She hears some of life’s most sordid tales and doesn’t judge. She meets people where they are, and then works to help them figure out their goals. She anticipates her clients’ needs with kindness, and whenever we see her interact with clients’ kids around our office, we’re reminded of why she is the favorite aunt of all her many nieces and nephews.
One thing most folks don’t know about Rachel is that she has no family here in Texas. She was raised in Alabama, but most of her relatives are now in Tennessee, and she misses them terribly. It’s because she has a genuine desire to serve that she feels called to be where she is right now, however, and we love her for that.
To have a heart for birthmothers means you have empathy, respect and admiration for those who have endured life’s greatest sacrifices in order to put their child’s needs before their own. It means actually being there for them, not just saying nice things to them or posting adoption-friendly memes on social media. Rachel does all of these things and more.
Rachel’s birthday was this weekend, and we share this tribute not to embarrass her, but rather, to thank her parents for raising their daughter to be the kind of woman she is, with a heart for birthmothers, a great work ethic and a true passion for all that is good and kind and decent.