Working together to help moms in need
by Chad Prososki | Catholic Charities
Have you ever heard it said that Catholics demand women to choose life for their babies but don’t help them prepare for or provide for that child? Those who are pro-life may often hear this or something similar, but I don’t believe it’s true. While organizations have long existed to help expectant mothers, it seems there is more support today than ever before. This is especially true here in North Dakota.
In the last decade, it has been amazing to see the outpouring of support for mothers, and fathers, with an unplanned pregnancy. For example, St .Gianna Maternity Home has been around for more than 10 years. It’s hard to believe that many years have gone by since dedicated supporters and volunteers tore apart and then restored their beautiful building in Warsaw. This was due to the vision of director Mary Pat Jahner, who had taught religion classes at St. Anthony Middle School in Fargo, and others. Similarly, the Jeremiah Program, based in the Twin Cities with its newest location in Fargo, helps raise mothers and children out of poverty two generations at a time.
In Fargo, there’s FirstChoice, led faithfully by Susan Richards and other faithful leaders over the years, and the Perry Center, that offer help and support to women and infants. Roxanne Solomen has inspired many with her writing, and Rachelle Sauvageau works quietly but tirelessly in the Diocesan Respect Life Office. FirstChoice in particular is known for its generous “Earn while you Learn” program that offers new parents free education and infant supplies. FirstChoice also has clinics in Bismarck and Devils Lake. Grand Forks has the Women’s Pregnancy Center, and Minot is blessed to have the Dakota Hope Clinic, opened within the last two years.
None of these pregnancy clinics are adoption placement agencies however. This makes the adoption work of Catholic Charities essential and important in providing comprehensive support and options to women in need. Of the women Catholic Charities journeys with, about half choose parenting and half adoption. And when someone at FirstChoice or St. Gianna’s makes a loving choice to make an adoption plan for their child, Catholic Charities North Dakota’s Pregnancy, Parenting, and Adoption Services (PPAS) can assist birthparents to find the right adoptive family for a child.
The purpose of the PPAS program goes beyond not only providing women free and confidential information about their birth options for parenting or adoption, it desires that each of these babies are born into the most stable situation possible. Our dedicated licensed social workers are trained and experienced in helping these women in difficult situations and PPAS Director Kris Haycraft takes the approach that “each of these moms should be wrapped in love and services in order to be the most prepared for their baby.” As she explains, “Nobody can be a great parent until their own basic needs are met. You can’t be your best as a parent if you are worrying about where your next meal will come from or where you will stay for the night. We believe that people, babies or adults, should not just survive but should thrive.”
One of the most interesting developments in adoption is the increase in what are called “open adoptions.” In an “open adoption” the birth parent and the new adoptive parents agree to maintain some level of contact, from as little as yearly updates to as much as regular visits with each other. This way a birth mother can still see her child grow and develop into a successful young woman or man, and the child will know his or her history and that their birthparents also love them. To learn more about how this works watch our new video at www.catholiccharities.org or contact Kris Haycraft, PPAS Director.
There are many caring people working together to provide life-affirming support to those in need. However, far too many women still walk this journey alone. If a woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy had a dozen phone numbers to call, and kind, friendly people she could visit with willing to help her, wouldn’t that be a wonderful choice to have? If you know someone in need, please let any of these great organizations know so that person can get the help and support they need. All of these nonprofits do excellent work, and we’re blessed at Catholic Charities North Dakota to also play an important role.
Chad Prososki is the Director of Development and Community Relations for Catholic Charities North Dakota. For more than 90 years, Catholic Charities North Dakota and its supporters have been putting their faith in action helping people, changing lives. You can reach Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 235-4457.