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Family Sponsorship Coordinator
HQ Phone:  (604) 807-4826
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P.O. Box 16013
Abbotsford, British Columbia,V3G 0C6
Family Placement Worker
Hope for Korah
Family Sponsorship Coordinator (Sponsors, Canada & U.S.) e-mail: email@example.com George Miller, Guy Miller, Dave Pohl, Eve Pohl, Donna Schachtel
After Adoption - Donna talks about Families that Last
> Donna talks about Families that Last
Donna Schachtel, Family Placement Worker at Families that Last, talks to Dave Murat about the process of adoption, what kind of people we are looking for and about the children who are waiting for families.
News: Supreme Court of Canada Denies Adoptive Parents Extension on Parental Leave
Press Release: EI Coverage Leave to Appeal - Tomasson Files with Supreme Court 9/10/2007
As I'm talking to Donna Schachtel, birth parent social worker at Hope Services Adoption agency in Abbotsford, Agency Director Lorne Welwood interrupts our meeting.
This wouldn't be the first time that Donna has dropped everything to find or support a birthmom. Though she works full time at Hope Services, Donna can often be found at the local maternity ward (for as long as fifteen hours) supporting a mom who has just given birth. A birthmom herself—17 years ago she made an adoption plan for her child—Donna speaks to or counsels around 200 expectant mothers every year. All that experience has been built into the Hope program which Donna now heads up. Donna supports them unstintingly during this process. As well as talking and listening, Donna helps the women carefully consider the practicalities of parenting a child. Together they prepare budgets, consider how they can manage to attend school or work and what their support network might look like. Donna will arrange for the expectant moms to meet with women who decided to parent their child and others who went ahead with an adoption plan. Donna often points out to expectant moms that they should not necessarily base their decisions on their current situation—a couple of years on their circumstances could be very different. This is the sort of wisdom, born of experience, that she offers her clients. As well as her own personal experience of being a birthmom, Donna has learned from hundreds of woman in the same situation. "You can't think of everything yourself," says Donna. "Often these woman have no support at home or no one to talk to about what's happening to them. Sometimes they have already decided what they want to do, and they just need permission to do it." Giving time is what the Hope Birthmom Program is all about. As well as devoting as much time as an individual woman needs to consider her options before the birth of her baby, Donna is passionate about the need to give the women she works with time after the birth. If a mom is undecided, they will go over all the discussions that they have previously had until she is ready to make up her mind. Donna also believes passionately about the need for moms to have time with their child after the birth. "I don't want any woman to ever look back and think they did not spend enough time with their child," says Donna. "You can't say goodbye if you've never said hello to your baby." While the birthmom is making her decision, Donna is always available. If a woman is undecided after the birth, Donna encourages her to take the child home or will organize for the baby to go to a loving, local home for a short placement until she has made up her mind. After Donna had her baby, she took her home for nine days. If there is even a hint that an expectant mother might be unsure about adoption, or if Donna gets a sixth sense that she is undecided, the adoption process is slowed down. Donna believes that the adoptive parents need to share some of the pain and loss that the birth parents and family experience. This helps them understand how difficult it is for the birth parent and may help them later to explain to a child how difficult it was for them to let their child go. She also encourages the birth mom or birth parents to personally hand the child to the adoptive parents—this can reduce feelings that their child was taken away from them and reinforce the enormity of the gift that the adoptive parents have been given. The education efforts at Hope are not just directed at the birth parents. Donna says, "Adoptive parents sometimes have odd ideas about birth parents—that they're drug addicts, prostitutes or that they don't care about their kids." At our education sessions adoptive parents get to meet birth parents and to hear how much they care about their children and how difficult the process was for them." The attempts to encourage mutual understanding between birth parents and adoptive parents are part of Hope's commitment to openness in adoption. A pioneer in openness, the Agency has seen many success stories. Donna and Lorne Welwood provide many examples of close and enduring relationships between birth and adoptive parents, often developed from small beginnings. Donna believes that the prospect of openness often helps a mom make her decision. Even if at the time of placement the birth mom or parents feel that they do not want openness, Donna encourages them to at least prepare a communication plan with the adoptive parents on the basis that it is much easier to open an adoption if it is already somewhat open than if it were entirely closed. While it is clear that Hope Services offer an important service to expectant parents who have to decide whether or not to parent their child, such services can also be of great benefit to adoptive parents. Donna explains, "They can know that the birthmom has looked at all her options really carefully and that she has solid reasons for why she chose adoption.