This article has been all over facebook lately: women in the world
And I have heard a lot of people ready to jump on the baby holding bandwagon. But it is best to first read the article. I think most people read the headline and say, “sounds good, I’ll hold some babies!” If you read the fine print the article hints at the fact that these are not volunteers, but licensed foster parents. My friend Erin said it perfectly:
“Okay, sorry all, but please don’t read the headline of this article and think you get to volunteer to cuddle babies- this vaguely written and misleading article is actually talking about becoming a Licensed Foster Family- meaning a child is placed in your home and lives with you full time until either they return home or find an adoptive home. Which is a great calling, and yes, these foster families do get to hug and snuggle babies and children everyday! But they are parents, not volunteers. There are no programs that allow “volunteers” to come and cuddle babies for a few hours.”
And I am just going to add a few other thoughts… And start with a question: Why do you think it might NOT be okay for random volunteers to go rock babies for a few hours?
Answer: Infants who are not with their birth mother for whatever reason are infants that are expiring loss and trauma. “How can a newborn experience loss and trauma, they are newborns?” I’ll tell you. Newborns have bonded with their mom for 9 months. The know mom’s movements and voice and smells. If there was any stress in the pregnancy, that could affect their development which can cause trauma. And this baby needs more that most babies. This baby needs one caregiver, and very calm and safe environment and a very consistent world. So when people, kind-hearted people, want to rock babies, it actually is not very good at all for the babies. It could actually be harmful for them. It can hinder attachment and cause further stress and trauma.
But I don’ expect people who do not work in child welfare to know that. So of course when people see this cry for help they think great, I can do that. Unless they see my informative blog and follow the advice of Maya Angelou
One more question: Why is okay for agencies caring for these children to allow such and article to be written? Now this really gets my heart beating fast. Why does a professional agency want to give the impression that babies are this commodity for the sole purpose of people who like babies to hold and smell and rock. Not to sound overly dramatic, but what they are doing is pimping these babies out. They are preying on the love people have of babies to send a message to the world that babies need to be held and rocked. There is a subtle message that tells the readers, babies are here for our cuddling enjoyment. They are here to serve your needs. Again, I realize this may sound like a very exaggerated and dramatic view point, but here is the thing…. When I worked in the adoption world, which I did for 15 years, which I believe makes me something of an expert, I had countless people calling and saying they wanted to adopt babies. Saying they wanted to foster babies. Every day someone was calling me about babies. This is the truth.
But here is the thing. There are no babies. There is an insane number of people wanting to adopt of foster babies compared to the number of babies that need foster and adoption. Where are the articles about school age children needing attention? The articles about teenagers needing mentors? And foster and adoptive homes. And trust me, when I find those articles, I share them, but they don’t go viral. They don’t have thousands of people jumping at the chance to spend time with them.
When I did this work (and even now, when I talk about this to people) it is clear that many people don’t want to hear it. Or if they do, there is a ready excuse. “We just want a baby because they are vulnerable”, “We want a baby because they don’t have as many problems”, “We don’t want to disrupt birth order”, and my personal favorite “God is calling us to a baby”. To which I respond snakily in my head “why would God call you to a baby that does not exist?”
If you want tangible reminders of the truth, go back through the The Light in Their Eyes Facebook page. Watch the videos, read the statistics. And if you want to hold a baby, volunteer in Church nursery.
Let’s do better people.