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Baby Nolan and big brother Finn

Children's Services

BRINGING FAMILIES TOGETHER

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ver the last few months the Adoption and Pregnancy Counseling teams in Richmond, Roanoke, and Norton have continued assisting expectant moms and adoptive families. "We are much busier than we imagined we would be during this time. We still have families reaching out to begin the adoption process. We also continue to be contacted by expectant parents and hospital social workers," said Donna Banks, pregnancy counselor and adoption case worker. "We are connecting with clients through Facebook, Zoom, and other virtual platforms." This June, Banks helped an adoptive family and a birth family navigate the 2 | Commonwealth Catholic Charities

complicated process of adoption— made even more complicated by the pandemic. "It started during a pandemic and ended during a pandemic but that didn't stop them from bonding and from this beautiful baby being born," said Banks. With COVID-19 precautions in place, the hospital could not guarantee that the adoptive mom could be with the birth mom throughout labor. In a joyful turn of events, the adoptive mother was allowed to stay through the birth and delivery. After the baby was born, the birth mother did not want to be alone so they all stayed in her room together until discharge. "The hospital wouldn't allow me in for the adoption paperwork," said Banks. "We found a quiet park where there were tables and plenty of shade. The birth father and his parents met us there. The adoptive parents also had their puppy at the placement. It turned out to be a beautiful experience. The bond between the birth family

and adoptive family was so amazing to see." Pam Kessinger, a CCC adoption case worker in Roanoke also helped a family navigate the adoption process through the pandemic. "This was a really stressful situation for everyone," said Kessinger. The birth mom was exposed to COVID-19 and tested positive for the virus, although she never showed any symptoms. This barred Kessinger from being in the hospital room and limited their communication to texts, calls, and video chats. All adoption paperwork also had to be disinfected by a UV machine at the hospital and then put in an envelope, untouched for several days. The baby was also tested twice before being placed with his adoptive family. Despite the difficulties, two birth moms were safely guided through the adoption process and two beautiful babies are now with their forever parents in their forever homes.

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Chronicle - Summer2020