By Tami Jo Watson
Facing an unplanned pregnancy can be life‐altering. Catholic Social Services’ (CSS) mission is to compassionately serve the poor and those in need, strengthen individuals and families, and advocate for social justice. Pregnancy Support and Adoption Services (PSAS) strives to meet the mission by offering birth options counseling to families throughout Alaska, in regards to parenting or making an adoption plan.
Our services are free for birth families and our pregnancy support advocate staff walk alongside birth families while they explore these options. PSAS can help identify and respond to personal needs and concerns during this difficult time. PSAS is here to offer unconditional support regardless of the path chosen.
Our goal is to assist families in making a plan that they feel is best for their family – free of pressure and judgment. Whether deciding to parent or to make an adoption plan, the PSAS team is happy to meet with any birth parent or family to discuss birth options.
Families can call to discuss the program at any time, whether birth mothers are three weeks pregnant or have already had their baby. The PSAS program assists families in making plans of adoptions for their babies from birth to the age of 3 years old.
PSAS has assisted birth families, regardless of their age or location in Alaska, in making plans of adoption since 1969. Our main population served is between the ages of 20 and 29 years old, however, we have also worked with teens that were facing an unplanned pregnancy. Between July 2014 and April 2017, PSAS has worked with four teen birth moms and three teen birth fathers while they made their plans of adoption. Being a teenager is hard enough, but having to make such a life-alternating decision is heart breaking at times and very emotional for our birth parents.
All of our adoptions are considered open; the birth parents are able to select the adoptive families from profile books, having the option of meeting the adoptive family and building a lifelong relationship. Each adoption journey is unique and some birth families prefer to have limited contact, and that is okay.
While some birth moms are able to lean on family, friends or PSAS for support, other birth parents need a higher level of support and a referral to professional counseling is needed. PSAS is lucky enough to have a licensed counselor who is willing to meet with our birth parents free of charge if they are open to the opportunity.
Making a plan of adoption can be hard due to the stigma that teenagers feel about making a plan and the pressure from peers, family or friends in regards to their decision. We have worked with teens who have had to navigate the pressure of their family’s wishes, and also their peers’ ridicule and judgement if they made an adoption plan.
Making a plan of adoption is one of the most selfless acts a birth parent can make; they are making a plan so that their child can have a life that they are unable to provide. Birth parents have a deep love for their children and an inner strength to let them go, to let them go and live a life they wanted them to have. It is not something to be ashamed of, but a choice that is made out of love for their child.
To learn more, visit the PSAS webpage or call 1-888-625-7315.
Tami Jo Watson is the program director for Pregnancy Support and Adoption Services at Catholic Social Services.