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Birth Mother Matters in Adoption Episode #71 – Making a Hospital Plan During COVID-19

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 the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Doing what’s best for your kid and for 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 am the Executive Director, President and Co-Founder of Building Arizona Families’ adoption agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation and creator of the You Before Me campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling. I was adopted at the age of 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, who’s an adoption attorney, and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

During the COVID pandemic… I think I always alternate between COVID 19 and coronavirus, because it seems that’s what everybody is doing-

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You want to make sure that you use both. People who refer to it as one can resonate with that, and you’re not leaving somebody out. So I go back and forth and I’m not sure why we all do that, but we’re doing that.

Ron Reigns:

The precedent’s been set, so let’s follow it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Let’s follow it. Let’s jump in. Be part of the crowd. All right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Birth mothers have a really big job to do when they are proceeding and making an adoption plan. We’ve talked about hospital plans in the past. A hospital plan is where a birth mother sits with her case worker and makes an outline of how she wants everything to go at the hospital.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It’s a detailed plan so that we know what our role is. We can explain to the adoptive parent case manager what their role is, and we can let the hospital social worker and the hospital staff know what their role is. So everybody understands whether birth mom wants to hold the baby after she delivers right away, who she wants to cut the cord, who she wants to be in the delivery room, who she wants to be her primary support person, if she winds up having a C-section, who’s going to be the one to go in with her. We lay this out, so that we all have an idea of where she’s going with it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It changes all the time: Our birth mom may go into the hospital and she may say, “Wait, I want to do it like this instead”, or “wait, wait, wait, I want to change this”. And that’s totally fine. It’s just a guideline and a starting place. But it’s a big deal, because in the hospital, that’s where a birth mom is the star, it’s her show… We want her to feel that. We want to feel that special, heroic feeling-

Ron Reigns:

that empowered…

Ron Reigns:

Right-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And unfortunately, this is now all changed due to coronavirus/ COVID-19. It has absolutely taken away a lot of that glory and heroicness that they get to experience in that moment.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Now it doesn’t take away from the adoption experience, per se, entirely. It does take away from that time-

Ron Reigns:

It takes away her control, correct?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Her control of deciding… And we’re going to go through the decision-making… It takes away a lot… It minimizes her choices. It minimizes her choices.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So what I thought we would do, Ron, is: We would step back and try to bring the positives into the situation that we’re in. Because right now, when we’re looking at a hospital plan and we’re looking at birth moms and how this is negatively affecting them… Life’s a roller coaster: When you go up, you come down, you go up, you come down… I know I’ve made the reference before, in the movie Parenthood with Steve Martin, the grandmother talks about how she likes the up and downs and she doesn’t just want to go on the merry-go-round. I always think of that, because it’s true. I too wouldn’t want to go on a merry-go-round. I’d rather, I don’t like roller coasters in actuality, but, in theory, I like roller coasters.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think there’s so much negativity with the coronavirus and COVID-19 and I agree with it. It’s killing people, it’s destroying our economy, people are not able to work… They’re at home… Kids are not able to go to school… There is a lot of negativity that is around it. It’s a really hard time. It’s unprecedented… We’re scared. We don’t know what’s going to happen next. We don’t know when the country’s going to open back up… What that’s going to look like. Are we going to be wearing masks the rest of our lives? We don’t know what’s going to go on.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I thought, “Okay, let’s try to find a light in this tunnel. Let’s let’s try to… And then, let’s talk about the choices that birth mothers still get to make in their hospital plan.” Even during COVID-19.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

One thing that I was thinking about is… Did you see the picture of Switzerland Matterhorn mountain? Which, by the way, is a rollercoaster at one of the big parks-

Ron Reigns:

At Disneyland.

Ron Reigns:

I hadn’t seen the picture until you sent it to me. And then I started seeing it after that. I’m like, “This is cool. That is very neat.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What was your first response when you saw the picture?

Ron Reigns:

It just felt good… Like we’re all coming together. Almost like after 9/11, we all said, “We’re a nation again.” Now this is saying: “We’re a world, people. Let’s get together and celebrate each other.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Absolutely. So the fact that they illuminated the mountain with the American flag for a few hours as a symbol of solidarity during the 4/17/2020… I thought it made us united, for a moment or for a few moments… There was cohesiveness.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And that positive… We all talk about: “We want world peace. We want this.” Well, for a moment, we have it. Hopefully we’ll get a lot more of those.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

The fact that South Korea has committed to mailing us COVID-19 tests… I think that’s incredible, too.

Ron Reigns:

Amazing… The world coming together over this travesty that’s affecting pretty much every nation in the world, it seems like.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. China’s donating masks and protective gear. I have to say…

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When this first started, I went… I know we’re going to talk about parenting in another podcast… But I went online and I was actually reading blogs and statements from mothers in Italy that were quarantining, completely isolated with their kids, just like we’re doing here… And just because I thought, “Okay, this mama has walked it before me. I want to understand everything she did right, everything she felt she did wrong. So I can… She can help me without even knowing me-

Ron Reigns:

Leading by example.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. I thought that was really neat that, in society today, we can get on social media and we can have those experiences. As you stated, we are, as a nation and hopefully as a world, becoming more united.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I love it when we can use the word united in United States. That’s what it’s for. Because we’re united, we’re all together. I love that… I love that the people, that we have not recognized as heroes per se and shown due respect for these frontline workers, are now finally getting what they have deserved.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Nurses are finally being appreciated, whereas before they were looked at as just doctor’s assistants and they didn’t get their MD and so forth. I have a very, very close friend… She’s actually the godmother of my youngest son. She told me the other day she had to go into a local store and she was still in her scrubs from the hospital, because she had just gotten off of her shift.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And she said that there was a line, because they’re only allowing so many people to go into the store. She said that they allowed her to walk ahead and go into the store right away. And she said, “I felt so funny doing that.” And I told her, “no, no, no you deserve it.”

Ron Reigns:

Absolutely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

“I promise you, everybody standing in that line would not want you to wait. I promise you that they would probably be clapping for you if they didn’t want to feel silly and they wanted you to move on ahead.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think we are finally recognizing how important teachers are and there was a big Red for ED movement and people were not unitedly positive and supportive. I think now that may very well change. I know that when the kids get to go back to school, I will be sending gifts and putting bows on my children’s heads… They’ll be carrying in flowers for their teacher and everything else, because I don’t ever want them to not teach my children again.

Ron Reigns:

Right…. And take care of them for that matter.

Ron Reigns:

I saw a post on Facebook and it really brought this home, because it said, “finally we’re at a point in our society… Because of the coronavirus, where we are not celebrating the actors, celebrities, sports heroes and all this right now, we’re celebrating the teachers, the nurses, the doctors, the first responders in this coronavirus epidemic-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Grocery store clerks.

Ron Reigns:

Absolutely… For crying out loud, the fast food employees who are still out there and doing their job and getting us food, even if it is fast food.

Ron Reigns:

We are thinking about the little people instead of these big, hotshot celebrities and movie moguls and stuff…

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Looked at as little people, they’ll be looked at as… Wherever you work, as hard as you work… What matters, what you put into it. It’s not the job per se or the degree that it took to get it. I think it’s your heart, mind and soul. I mean, “if that’s your goal, if that’s what you’re doing, then by all means, finally, this is a time where you can get your glory, because I tell you what…” I don’t know that I could be a grocery clerk right now. I think I’d be too scared. And that is me being candid. I really admire them.

Ron Reigns:

I was in Walmart with my brother-in-law and everybody gets to social distance except for the people at the… I was thinking this about the guy who was at the cash register and checking our food… He has to deal with every single person that goes through that line. And it’s less than six feet for him. He can’t do it from six feet, 12 feet away, he’s got to be right there. Every single person that passes him, he encounters. So he’s taking that risk and I appreciated it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

A funny story on that: Right before they issued the Stay-at-Home Order and we had a little bit of time, I did my last in-person grocery store run, I haven’t been to the grocery store since… I’m going through, and because we have so many kids, Adam is with me and we both have carts and I am throwing food in like… I’m not hoarding or totally stockpiling, but we do have six kids at home… And so there’s eight of us. So we go through it really fast and I’m reading on… Because I am a rule follower, I’m reading all the little signs that say, “maximum quantity, two of this, two of that”. I’m counting it. Apparently, I misunderstood that when they said two of the cleaning products that they… I thought they meant two of each kind-

Ron Reigns:

Right, you get two Pine-Sols and two dish soaps-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That’s what I thought. I had gone through and thought I was following the rules and-

Ron Reigns:

Rebel!

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

The store manager came up, because I was doing the self-checkout, because I didn’t want the cashier touching everything.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I was still paranoid at that point… I’m doing the self-checkout and the store manager comes up behind me and he starts going through my cart, pulling out things and telling me that I was not allowed to… I felt violated! I was embarrassed… he’s going through and he’s pulling stuff out and telling me I can’t buy this, I can’t buy this. And I felt like jeeze-

Ron Reigns:

Just tiny, like this big, right?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. It was… So now I do- a

Ron Reigns:

Follow the rules? Oh, you do delivery? Even better! You probably don’t want to go back to that store, even after this is done.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Because it was a genuine mistake, but it was loud and there was people looking at me and I thought… I didn’t…

Ron Reigns:

Yeah, you weren’t doing it to… You thought you were following the rules. Right. I understand.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

No… Then I was really afraid… This is even kind of off topic, but, because I was halfway through my order and then I looked over to my bags and I thought: “Oh no, because I had already had some of it”. Then I thought:”Well, if he goes through, he can start returning… it was a mess.”

Ron Reigns:

Yeah, but he obviously didn’t go through your bags that you had already paid or checked out-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I didn’t want to make a bigger scene and my husband’s over at the other cash register, giggling, because I’m busted, but it wasn’t intentional to be busted…

Ron Reigns:

You weren’t grabbing 7,000 rolls of Charmin and it wasn’t… Would that have meant that you get to get two things of Charmin and then two things of Scott or whatever the other brand are? [crosstalk 00:15:10]

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I knew that, but I thought… I didn’t realize that you couldn’t have two Fabulosos and a Windex. So it wasn’t-

Ron Reigns:

It’s one of each and that’s enough… Interesting, I hadn’t really given that much thought, but now I know.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Apparently, hadn’t either.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Let’s find the highlights in the changes in the hospital plan that a birth mother has to make: Sometimes when you sit down with a birth mom and you’re talking about a hospital plan, it’s another actualization moment for them…

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When they’re choosing an adoptive family, it becomes super real. They’re in the moment, they’re present… When they’re making a hospital plan, again, in the moment present, when they first speak to the adoptive family on the phone, in the moment present…

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

This is one of those big moments. This is a big… I don’t want to say hurdle, but it’s a big jump. Oftentimes, even if you prepare them and let them know, “Hey, we’re going to sit down and talk about it” and you start asking some of the questions, they think, “Wow, I hadn’t really thought about how I want that to go.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

We spend a lot of time talking about different scenarios and different options, but now those have really, really slimmed down. From a birth mother’s perspective, I can see how it would look like a lot of lows, but you and I are going to point out the highs, so the positives would be this: In Arizona, and this is not across the United States, because I know every state has their own rules and regulations… In Arizona, a birth mother or a pregnant woman, who’s laboring and delivering, can have one support person in most cases.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

This isn’t a possibility for everybody, especially if a birth mother is showing symptoms of coronavirus… The limitations of visitors can be positive… If you look at it from this perspective… The birth mother, if she’s allowed to have one person, can have one person in with her that is positive about her adoption choice…

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

She doesn’t have negative feelings about adoption. Those people in her family, friends, expressing negativity, making her feel bad… They can’t show up… That’s a positive.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

If the hospital originally allowed three people in the room and she has a big family and wants her case worker in there and the adoptive mom, it would be hard to pick and choose. This way, there’s just one. So there’s just one choice… That’s a positive.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

In Arizona, due to the hospital’s occupancy and safety precautions, adoptive parents are not able to obtain nesting rooms. In normal situations and in most hospitals in Arizona, when we have an adoption situation, an adoptive family can have their own nesting room, which means they get their own room at the hospital and baby can go back and forth, if birth mom allows… From the adoptive family room to the birth mom’s room and they can all be staying at the hospital together, in separate rooms.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But, because that’s not an option right now, the birth mother doesn’t have to make the decision of whether or not she wants the baby to be in the room with the adoptive parents without offending them, without having them feel like she is giving up some of her time with the baby or robbing them of their time with the baby. And I think sometimes when you have less choices, life can seem less stressful.

Ron Reigns:

Yeah. It’s definitely easier.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

We love to go to The Cheesecake Factory. I love The Cheesecake Factory, but I have to say their menu is overwhelming, it’s like a book! Have you been there?

Ron Reigns:

I have not been to The Cheesecake Factory. Heard good things!

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Why haven’t you been to The Cheesecake Factory?

Ron Reigns:

Just never have… Not a fan of the cheesecake-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I’m not either.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But their food is really good.

Ron Reigns:

Okay. We will do that-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Minus the cheesecake.

Ron Reigns:

But I agree with you: When you have… whether it’s shampoo… you have six choices, it’s like, “okay, I can handle that decision”… When you go in there and you see , you’ve got 7,000 different things… has conditioner and shampoo and this has that… And this is for soft hair and that’s too much.

Ron Reigns:

So if you limit that, bring that down a little bit… It does make things much easier. It makes life easier.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

A thousand percent, which is why when … a good point to bring up is… when we have birth mothers choose adoptive families, I always say the ideal number is three to five, because some agencies will flood them with 20 and we could do that, but I don’t think that that’s… It’s overwhelming. It’s too much.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So look at three to five. If you don’t like any of them, then we’ll bring in some more. But rather than go through all of them… You could be going through hundreds of these… And I think it would just be confusing and stressful.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Maybe this will eliminate some of that stress. If a birth mother is exhibiting any coronavirus symptoms, she will most likely be tested right at the hospital.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

This is awesome, because then she doesn’t have to go through the process of going to the testing site, making the appointment prior, having to wait there, having to go through all… It’s a one stop shop.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I thought that was a positive… Doctors and nurses are normally very, very, very kind, very compassionate. But I think right now everybody is going the extra mile, especially understanding that this is not the norm in an adoption situation and a birth mother does not have the people surrounding her that she normally would. I think getting that extra love, care and support from the nursing staff and the doctors is a positive.

Ron Reigns:

I think so, too. Do you have any specific stories? Because you deal with this on a daily basis for…in some things… have you heard any particular stories that you’re like:”Wow, that is neat!”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes. We had a mom that we believed, or the hospital believed, had symptoms and they tested her and I thought they were rapid testing. It’s almost like a pregnancy test, but no, it takes 24 hours at least, sometimes even longer.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So she didn’t get to hold the baby right away or even see the baby, because she was quarantined until her test came back.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

They kept coming in and checking on her. And I think at one point they took her phone and took a picture with her phone… Of the baby… So that she could see and they let her know how the baby was doing and kept giving her updates more frequently than normal. I think that was really kind-

Ron Reigns:

That’s very kind.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Goodness. And she tested negative, so that was positive…

Ron Reigns:

It was positive that she was negative. Right. Got it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Positive that she is negative. There you go. So there’s an example.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Also, I think that we all should be grateful that we live in a time where many of us have cell phones that have great cameras on them. We can video chat like we’re doing, and all of our birth mothers are supplied with a smartphone… They can take pictures of their baby and still show family and friends the baby and they still get to show them what a great job they did: Carrying this baby, giving birth to this baby and that’s a big deal… That’s a really big deal.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think, yes, it’s a little thing, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. And that’s a way.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So in those five things, I hope that we can, again, find more positives in this time of negativity. I love the whole analogy of lemon and lemonade.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Lemons are sour, but we add water, ice and sugar and it tastes amazing. I mean, we crave it… I crave it… I think it’s great.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

If we can stay united, if we can stay in this positivity, when we’re surrounded by so much negativity and so many terrifying things and so many unknowns, I think that we’ll be able to be stronger together. Does that make sense?

Ron Reigns:

It absolutely does.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I hope that this too shall pass and life will return to normal and people will heal and become healthy again. And we, like I said, we’ll fight this pandemic together.

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth other Matters in Adoption.

Ron Reigns:

If you’re listening and you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about adoption, Building Arizona Families is a local Arizona adoption agency and available 24/7 by phone or text at (623) 695-4112, that’s 6-2-3-6-9-5-4-1-1-2.

Ron Reigns:

We can make an immediate appointment with you to get started on creating an Arizona adoption plan or just get you more information. You can also find out more information about Building Arizona Families on their website at azpregnancyhelp.com.

Ron Reigns:

Thanks also go out to Grapes for allowing us to use their song, I Don’t Know is our theme song. Birth Mother Matters in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me.

Ron Reigns:

Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us, we’d really appreciate it. We also now have a website at birthmothermatterspodcast.com.

Ron Reigns:

Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns.

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