In Gladney Residential Program (much like a college dorm), women come to us for so many reasons, but the thread that carries through each of their stories is that they find themselves facing unplanned pregnancies and they are looking for a loving option for themselves and their babies. In addition to safe, stable housing for her pregnancy and immediate postpartum period, food, support, referrals to community resources, we can care for a woman more holistically with life-skill coaching, prenatal classes, birth support and a community of women who can identify and empathize with their desire to make an adoption plan.
Sometimes they are homeless and pregnant; sometimes they are teens with nowhere to go, sometimes they just need a break from their current lives to focus on their pregnancy and life after. It can feel awkward at first, but one way we push past our clients’ diverse backgrounds to create community is to celebrate together. We celebrate newfound sobriety, graduations from high school or career training, birthdays, or the one that is my favorite: when each individual client’s strength and bravery. That she is making a positive choice for herself and her baby and that she is worth celebrating.
Birth moms don’t get baby showers with diaper cakes and onesies, their needs are different, but we want to celebrate them in a special way, so we do this instead. About a month before each woman’s due date, we gather in our beautiful great room, staff and residents. and we each come up with a word to describe the woman we celebrate. We tell her that she is strong, that she’s beautiful, that she’s loved, that she’s an over-comer. We assure her that she’s valued and wanted. We write these words on cards that she can keep, so that she can be reminded how we see her when life is tough. We don’t lie and say that what she’s doing will be easy, but we tell her that she is stronger than her situation is hard, even when it comes to going through with her adoption plan. Part of my job is to join these beautiful women in the hospital when it’s time to have their babies. I pull these words out as she is laboring to remind her that she is stronger than her situation. Whether she grew up hearing these things her entire life, or she’s hearing them for the first time, it’s a beautiful thing to tell women that they are strong. We give them little gifts to show them that they are loved and to make their stay in the hospital more comfortable, but ultimately, it’s the words that are the true and lasting gift.
Before each woman leave us for her next season, we circle up again. We share the growth we’ve seen during her time here and we wish her the best. We fill her cup with good things and launch her into her future with our love and support. It’s a great day when we see a woman who came in homeless and pregnant, out of options, moving out into stable housing and employment, with a community around her to offer ongoing support. We get to meet them where they are and meet needs that so often they didn’t know were there. We can offer a little glimmer of love and support in a season that started with stress and grief, and we can display that in the end, good things can come from this, even if it’s hard. Adoption can be a beautiful thing.
As you talk with one of our Options Counselors, ask about the Gladney Residence Living and see if it's an option for you.