AZ Pregnancy Help Logo

Birth Mother Matters in Adoption Episode #67 – Covid 19 / Coronavirus & Adoption Parents, Part 2 of 2

Ron Reigns:

Welcome. And thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into adoption issues from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 2:

Do what’s best for your kid and yourself because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid, and that’s not fair.

Speaker 3:

And I know that my daughter would be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 4:

Don’t have an abortion – give this child a chance.

Speaker 5:

All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m the Executive Director, President, and co-founder of Building Arizona Families Adoption Agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, and the You Before Me campaign creator. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis on school counseling. I was adopted at three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption, and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:

And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the co-host of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife, an adoption attorney, and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Ron Reigns:

Coronaviruses are a group of related viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, coronaviruses cause respiratory tract infections that can be mild, such as some cases of the common cold, and others that can be lethal such as SARS, MERS, and COVID-19. Symptoms in other species vary. In chickens, they cause an upper respiratory tract disease, while in cows and pigs, they cause diarrhea. There are yet vaccines or antiviral drugs to prevent or treat human coronavirus infections. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, OSHA’s website states that Chinese authorities identified the new coronavirus, which has resulted in confirmed human infections in China and a growing number of other countries, including the United States. Infected patients have also spread the virus to healthcare workers.

Ron Reigns:

According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is now a pandemic, meaning a global disease outbreak. On March 13th, 2020, the President of the United States declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency. The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading in the community in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means that people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are unsure how or where they became infected. The WHO states on their website that coronavirus disease, COVID-19, is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop severe illnesses. The best way to prevent and slow down the transmission is to be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes, and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently and not touching your face.

Ron Reigns:

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. So it is essential that you also practice respiratory etiquette, for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow. There are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. The WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available.

Ron Reigns:

So the main question is, how will COVID-19 impact domestic adoptions? Birth mothers? Adoptive parents? Today on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, we’re going to jump right into these questions. Please understand that we’re solely speaking on behalf of Building Arizona Families Adoption Agency and AZ Pregnancy Help located here in Arizona. We can’t speak for how other agencies are handling adoptions or their state regulations and guidelines concerning COVID-19.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Another question that we’ve been getting is, are birth mothers, are they still calling? Are they still coming into the program? And the answer is absolutely yes.

Ron Reigns:

I’m glad birth mothers are still entering the program. How about the other angle of the triad? How about adopting parents? Is that still an influx, or has that kind of thinned out a little bit in the last month?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

No, it really hasn’t thinned out. I think when an adoptive family or a husband and a wife decide that they want to be parents, they’re not going to let even a pandemic stand in the way.

Ron Reigns:

Right. Do you think that might be impacted in the coming months?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Well, I hope not because there are women who can’t parent these babies, and we need to make sure these birth mothers are supported and that their have loving families to go to. So I hope that’s not the case.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I don’t foresee that being the case, but I didn’t foresee the pandemic-

Ron Reigns:

Any of this,

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Turning into what it is. So that was something, and I think the big picture with adoptive families and the concern about the changes. Because they may be coming from out of state, many families are staying at Airbnbs rather than at hotels, which I think is an excellent idea because, again, it’s less exposure, and you can shelter in place there. They’re not able to get a nesting room anymore at the hospital, so they’re not able to have that bonding time with the baby, and that’s really hard because that was something that I thought was so special and so beautiful when a birth mother has her baby in the hospital. An adoptive family can be right there and be that support in person. They can wrap their arms around her and hug her and let her know how much they love her and how appreciative they are for helping them build this fantastic family. And that’s not able to happen right now.

Ron Reigns:

So it’ll be very nice when that comes back.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think that is what I will look forward to the most.

Ron Reigns:

I bet.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Are the adoptive families being able to have that connection? I also think it’s essential for birth mothers to see their baby with the adoptive family in the hospital. I think that that creates a beautiful vision for the future for them. It becomes a memory that they can look back on and think, “Wow, okay, my baby was just fine in her arms, and my baby’s going to be loved and well taken care of. And I don’t have to worry anymore, and I don’t have to second guess myself.” And now we’ve had to change that because the hospitals just aren’t allowing it. And I completely understand why.

Ron Reigns:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Again, they’re trying to minimize exposure, and I think that those healthcare workers are just absolute Godsends.

Ron Reigns:

They’ve been excellent for the entire country on all ends. So yeah, absolutely hats off to all of them.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes. And so again, we are obviously in 100% compliance with whatever they want us to do. Some hospitals have a little bit more of a lenient policy, whereas others take a stricter approach. And so we are just going with whatever they’re asking us to do. But again, this is short-term. This isn’t going to be forever. And it’s working; it’s working just fine. We’ve been playing a lot of babies this past quarter, and I think we may even have hit record numbers.

Ron Reigns:

Really. That’s fantastic.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Then it is fantastic because these babies are going into beautiful, loving, adoptive homes. And anytime an adoption is successful, everybody wins.

Ron Reigns:

Right. All three ends.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And I love that. I hope that this coronavirus does not negatively impact society and the long term economically. I hope that that doesn’t become a barrier for adoptive families. I hope we can continue to come together and make this okay again. Because again, even as I’m talking to you, I still can’t believe where we are.

Ron Reigns:

Our entire world has changed. And I don’t know… I know some of it will come back, but I know some won’t. I’ve heard people say, okay, maybe this is the end of shaking hands. And that makes sense. But it’s kind of like, I love shaking hands. I think it’s a respectful thing. So it’s going to be a strange new world. I still do it on the few occasions that I’ve talked to people that weren’t family or whatever. And I instinctively stick my hand out, and then I pull it right back. It’s like, oh, geez, and that may never come back.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Really?

Ron Reigns:

That’s what I’ve heard. So who knows.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I have to say the first time I think I saw that up close was when my adoptive father, my father when, came over to the house, and he was leaving. This was at the very beginning of this. And my husband went to go and hug him. And my dad put up both hands and said, not right now. And I remember thinking, wow, this is where we are. And he was so brilliant in doing that. I mean, he’s in his mid-seventies and-

Ron Reigns:

He’s in that range. What are the people that are most impacted by this, 

certainly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so I remember thinking, oh my gosh, I hope this goes away and fast. But you’re right. It could definitely change things. Now, I don’t like shaking hands, to be honest. There’s disclosure, so I’m okay if that doesn’t come back.

Ron Reigns:

Fair enough. Depending on the circumstance, I feel it is a thing of respect, so that’s a personal thing on my end.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think it is a respectful thing, much more so between men than with women.

Ron Reigns:

I think that’s probably true. And then I think many more women are huggers, and that might not come back, at least maybe in families, but not so much with acquaintances and friends.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Wow. I hadn’t thought about that either. Yeah. I don’t know. I know the latest recommendation is if I read this correctly, that everyone is supposed to cover their mouths and noses now, even if they’re not sick. Is that what you’ve read as well?

Ron Reigns:

Yeah. If you’re going out in public, to have some kind of face-covering is better than having none. It will help to keep you from spreading it to somebody else if you unknowingly have it or from a little bit of getting it. It’s obviously not foolproof, but they’re recommending it. And I know at the beginning they were kind of like, Nah, it’s no big deal, no masks, you don’t need that. And now they’re kind of going back on that, saying, well, maybe.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. And I think, just like I had stated with us as an agency, everyone is trying to do the best they can. They’re trying to keep everybody as safe as possible. And I know that we had a situation recently where one of the newborns was in the NICU, and the baby was sick. And when the baby was discharged from the hospital, the hospital said, absolutely no contact other than with the adoptive mother and father. At that point, the birth mother hadn’t gotten to see the baby since she was discharged from the hospital, and that was really heartbreaking. But the rainbow at the end of this story is that I talked with the adoptive family, and they’re actually going to come back to Arizona after the pandemic is over and do a memorable visit.

Ron Reigns:

And spend tie with her. Oh, that’s nice.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Because there is, again, one of my jobs is to make sure that everybody is as safe as possible, and that means that I have to make some tough decisions. And when you look at it and think, can you allow it this one time, or can we just make an exception? No, because it could be that one time that permanently alters somebody’s life. What I have asked adoptive families, and we’re asking our birth moms, is we’re doing everything to keep everybody as safe as possible. We may not like the decisions that are being made. We may not like the circumstances that we’re in. We may not like the decisions made outside of our scope. But at the same time, everybody is making these and implementing these changes for the sake of safety to keep this as quarantined as possible.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So I’m looking at everything, and I’m thinking, I hope that this will not drag on for a long time. And I’m hoping that people start recovering and everybody can put this behind them. And I don’t know. Our international program with Haiti, obviously the pandemic, will halt some travel. So that is, unfortunately, being affected. Our other program, our Interstate Forever Families, where we help Arizona families adopt out of the other states’ foster care systems, I don’t have any data on how that’s going to be impacted. But on the bright side, have you seen the news about how the pandemic affects abortions?

Ron Reigns:

Actually, I was going to ask you about that because I know there’s been a debate. And many state governments have said any non-essential surgeries are being halted. Still, there’s debate on whether abortion is essential or non-essential. So what have you heard beyond that?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

There have been states that are restricting abortion.

Ron Reigns:

Yay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

They have, yeah. Mississippi, Texas, and Ohio moved on the 25th to limit abortion as part of the coronavirus response.

Ron Reigns:

That is excellent news, in my opinion.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Well, they did, yes. And then I know that some judges came back and stated that they… Basically, there was a lot of banter back and forth as to whether or not they could do that. So I think that it’s still underway as to whether or not that’s going to be solidified or not. I’m hoping that more states will join that theology. I’m excited that babies will be saved because as we horrifically lose people to this virus, maybe we’re saving the lives of others.

Ron Reigns:

On the younger ones, indeed.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so again, maybe that’s a silver lining.

Ron Reigns:

Some lemonade.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. Some lemonade. Federal judges in Alabama, Ohio, and Texas have blocked orders banning non-essential medical procedures from limiting abortion access during the coronavirus outbreaks. A win for abortion rights activists as a fight over abortion rights intersects with the worsening pandemic. Days after Texas Attorney General Paxton ordered a ban on nearly all abortions in the state during the coronavirus pandemic, Planned Parenthood filed an emergency lawsuit in federal court attempting to overturn the order. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight reproductive health clinics in Texas claims that Paxton’s order is unconstitutional and in violation of Roe v. Wade and demanding an immediate temporary restraining order to keep the doors of Texas abortion clinics open.

Ron Reigns:

So both sides are fighting this tooth and nail right now.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

They are. Texas is currently the only state to explicitly ban the procedure during the coronavirus pandemic. Last week Ohio Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Fulkerson sent letters to several abortion clinics in the state accusing them of violating the order. But the clinics’ lawyers quickly responded, assuring Fulkerson’s office that they were in compliance with the order and were taking all necessary precautions. Abortion clinics in Ohio remain open, appointments have not been canceled, and so far, the clinics are not being penalized. So there’s a lot of, I guess, a lot of banter going back and forth in defining what’s essential and medically necessary and what’s not essential and how things are being classified. Again, I wonder what long-term effect will come of this because it sounds like we weren’t as a nation medically ready to deal with a pandemic of this size.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think we’ve been so busy focusing on abortions and lots of these smaller pieces rather than looking globally at the big picture. So maybe now people can see that when we are pouring ourselves into giving somebody the right to choose, we should have been pouring ourselves into looking towards the future and making sure we as a nation had enough hospital beds and ventilators and masks things like that. I don’t know. What have you heard in terms of the future? What estimates have you read about?

Ron Reigns:

I’ve heard so many different things. And honestly, I don’t even think the experts know because they’re not getting as much information as they need to make their diagnoses. So I don’t think that… We obviously can’t stay quarantined indefinitely. There’s got to be some light at the end of the tunnel, or people are just going to go nuts and say, I can’t take it anymore, I’m getting out. And so I think the government and the scientists and the epidemiologists and everybody else really need to focus on getting an answer to the public and saying, okay, this is what we’re shooting for, this is why, and this is why you need to stay inside for this amount of time. But I don’t think anybody has any real concrete answers at this point. And I know they’re trying, but I think the public will start getting restless.

Ron Reigns:

I mean, you can only Netflix and chill for so long before just saying, I got to get out, I need to do something. Right? So I don’t know. I’m hoping that we get answers on when a vaccine might become available. They’re saying not for 12 to 18 months on that part of it. Will the summer come, and the rise in temperature starts to kind of quiet this a little bit, at least bring it down? Is there going to be a second wave? There are so many questions that nobody seems to… Every estimate I’ve seen or every graph prediction kind of stops at August. And it’s like, well, what happens beyond August? I haven’t seen anything on that. And I just don’t think they know, unfortunately, but I think they need to really hunker down and find answers to help all of us.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. Well, for today, what we’re telling adoptive families is, please don’t fly in an airplane. If at all possible, please try to drive if you can. We’re actually not allowing newborns to go on airplanes without permission from a pediatrician. Because again, that’s just too much exposure. So many of our families are driving in, and then they’ll be driving home, which is not ideal. I get it with a newborn, but it’s safer. We are Skyping and Zooming with adoptive families. Whereas we used to do more face-to-face contact when they would come into the state and meet with us. And we used to do hospital tours and sit with them in the waiting room if the birth mother didn’t want them in the delivery room. And again, we’re not able to do any of that because they’re not even allowed to be at the hospital.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so it’s changed in so many aspects. It’s changed for the birth moms, and it’s changed for the adoptive families, and it’s changed for us, but we can get through this together. We’ve just got to keep the faith and have hope and promise and know that it’ll be okay in the end. And I think if we all keep a really positive outlook, I think hopefully good things will follow.

Ron Reigns:

Just a reminder, you can send or drop off donations, whether it’s financial or non-perishable food items, to our food pantry to help our birth mothers who are struggling, especially during this time at 8433 North Black Canyon Highway Suite 152, in Phoenix, Arizona, 85021. Visit Building Arizona Families website@azpregnancyhelp.com and for more information, click Here. We also have a new website for this podcast at birthmothermatterspodcast.com. Make sure you rate and review us wherever you’re listening to this podcast. We really appreciate it. And join us next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. For Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I am Ron Reigns, and we will see you then.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: