There are few truer tests of resilience than the first few weeks of parenthood. With the constant feedings and short sleeping stints, it's a phase that most parents are more than happy to move beyond.
But for a small group of selfless volunteers, it's all about those first few weeks. They're infant interim care providers who house and care for newborns whose parents are debating whether or not to raise their child themselves — while retaining their full legal rights to the child. The volunteers' work, which typically lasts from hospital discharge up until the babies are 8 weeks old, includes everything from feedings and diaper changes to doctor's visits and spreading love and affection to the little ones. Although it sounds a bit like a foster program, this operation differs in that the volunteers are not intending to adopt the babies when the process ends. The infants either go home to a birth parent or are put up for adoption through an agency.
"When people understand what their role is, that they are not the child's final destination and they're there to provide that goodness at the beginning, it really resonates," Katherine Foley of the Spence-Chapin adoption agency in New York City told DNAInfo.
The 100-year-old agency is currently seeking additional volunteers for its program. The agency covers all costs associated with caring for the child, including formula, toys, medical visits, diapers, and transportation.
"Once they get discharged from the hospital, these brand-new cuddly newborns need all the love and attention an adult can shower on them," she added. "This person is a guiding light for that baby."
God bless these volunteers is all I can say. I don't know that I could routinely go through those first few weeks with a baby that I knew I would have to give up. These are truly miracle workers. As one woman who has cared for 19 babies over the past six years said, "Some people can't really understand how wonderful it is when the baby is cranky and crying during the night, but then there are some people like me who still have some connection and get some kind of real sense of well-being that is very automatic and consistent."