How, exactly, does one do an adoption during the coronavirus pandemic?
It’s not something we were thinking much about even a month ago, but suddenly, here we are.
President Trump has announced a national emergency due to coronavirus (otherwise known as COVID-19) and people worldwide are faced with unforeseen challenges.
Let’s start with the basics: what’s the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic? According to Webster, an epidemic is a disease outbreak that spreads quickly and affects many individuals. A pandemic is an epidemic that affects a wider geographical region and a bigger population.
So how will the coronavirus pandemic impact the process at Abrazo, and what complications should folks expect, doing adoption during the coronavirus pandemic? Because coronavirus is relatively new, the information is developing hourly, but definitely check a reliable source like the CDC for all the latest news.
Please Try to Stay Calm!
It’s easy to panic when you see bare shelves in the grocery store, but try to stay calm. This is important for your own well-being as well as that of those around you.
Avoid reading all the sensationalized social media stories, if you can. Gossip about government lock-downs or national shortages doesn’t help anyone. You don’t have control over the government, but you can be in control of your own risk of exposure.
You know the drill, already. Practice careful hand washing. Avoid large crowds and big group events. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, instead of your hands. And please, if you haven’t already done so: get a flu shot!
If there’s any silver lining to this pandemic, perhaps it’s that families are getting more time together? The nationally-flailing birthrate may also spike dramatically nine months from this, considering all the folks staying home. (So if an unintended pregnancy would not be a welcome surprise, remember to get protection while you’re at the store stocking up on necessities.)
At present, it seems there is a low risk of COVID-19 transmission from pregnant women to babies. However, it is essential that prospective birthmothers participate fully in prenatal care, for their own protection.
Many hospitals are sharply restricting patient access, so prospective adoptive parents may be banned from Labor & Delivery, or subject to prescreening in some locations. Anytime you visit anyone in a hospital, wash hands for 20 seconds upon entering and leaving a patient’s room, so the patient and medical staff can view your precaution. And change clothes and shoes promptly upon leaving a hospital, for your own protection.
For all adoptive families caring for babies or children still under an agency’s care, please be reminded that the agency should be promptly notified of any and all hospitalizations of household members. (Agencies are also required to notify the State of any hospitalizations involving babies or children in the agency’s care, and medical records may also be required.)
Texas homestudies still require five face-to-face in-person interviews, including an in-home inspection. Unless TDFPS decides otherwise, post-placement visits must also be conducted in person. Finally, be forewarned that in Bexar County, the courts have temporarily put all “non-urgent” legal matters on hold, so any adoption proceedings scheduled for the next few weeks are necessarily being postponed by judicial orders. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause anyone.
Some are predicting that the falling stock market and investment losses may sharply curtail the ability of some to afford the adoption process. Whether this, coupled with nationally-dropping placement stats and the low birth rate may threaten the survival of some adoption programs remains to be seen.
How Abrazo Can Help
Abrazo’s Board of Directors has decided that Abrazo will continue to remain open during normal business hours (subject to change if necessary.) We’re still on call 24/7, and we’re happy to travel as needed. We’re disinfecting our playroom toys, our office door handles, phones and computer keyboards frequently, in an ongoing effort to help mitigate risks at our office. And remember: Abrazo always has free counseling available, for anyone who wants to come in or wishes to schedule phone or FaceTime sessions.
Birthparent support group meetings have been temporarily suspended because our conference room does not allow for the recommended 6 foot space between attendees. Adopting families uncomfortable with traveling to Texas for orientation may postpone participation until the next scheduled weekend. Camp Abrazo is still slated to occur as planned, the last weekend in May.
There are no widespread travel bans yet, but if implemented, foster care may again become necessary if immediate placement is not possible. Interstate Compact delays should also be anticipated, if state offices close down. Adoptive families who wish to postpone finalization proceedings to avoid traveling with babies during the national health crisis may do so for up to two months. (However, please note that post-placement reports and in-person supervisory visits must continue as normally required.)
Thank America’s Medical Professionals!
Finally, a heartfelt word of thanks and praise for all the healthcare providers who are working through this crisis.
To all the hospital social workers, nurses, ob-gyns and others who are continuing to provide quality care to those in need, bless you! Abrazo has a special supply of complimentary hand sanitizers ready and waiting for medical personnel, upon request, as we continue to offer the best of services for adoption during the coronavirus pandemic.
Together, we’ll get through this… not if, but when!