NEW YORK — Adoption agencies nationwide are seeking interim volunteers to help care for newborn babies, a report from ABC News outlines.
“Agencies are not exactly the best funded today, so volunteers are more important probably than they have ever been,” Adam Pertman, president of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency, told the outlet. “All agencies over the years have certainly needed volunteers but … the need has grown. Volunteers have become more and more essential.”
Volunteer Susan Singer of Manhattan has cared for approximately 20 babies since she began working with the group Spence-Chapin six years ago.
“My job is to make the baby feel safe and loved 24-7,” she explained. “I hold them all the time. I talk to them. I sing to them. We play music. And I get so much joy and pleasure. I feel so good when I’m with an infant that I hope that it does … something for them, too.”
President Adam Cotumaccio explained that prospective volunteers are put through background checks, and if accepted, care for newborns anywhere from two to four weeks.
“We pay 100 percent of all the expenses [to care for the newborn],” Cotumaccio told ABC News. “We have a full clinic here where we have pediatricians. We pay for the transportation costs, diapers, even the car seats, as sometimes the volunteer may not have all of the equipment.”
Spokeswoman Katherine Foley added to the outlet DNA Info that most babies that come to Spence-Chapin are those whose parents are still deciding whether to keep the child or give him or her up for adoption.
“These babies need warm, caring, safe places to start their journeys,” she stated. “Once they get discharged from the hospital, these brand-new, cuddly newborns need all the love and attention an adult can shower on them. This person is a guiding light for that baby.”
Singer says that she enjoys volunteering and making a difference in lives.
“You have mothers who don’t have the financial or family support to keep their child or they have to give the child up, and all the heartache that goes with that,” she said. “Then you have couples who want to adopt that have suffered miscarriages and so many failures, and it’s been a terrible time for them. Then I come right in the middle of it with a baby.”
“I’m the one on adoption day, telling [the new parents] all about this wonderful little person,” Singer said. “I’m the one that gets to talk to the birth mom and send her photos and videos, and reassure her that her baby is safe. So it’s a really great piece to have in all of the stuff that goes on.”
According to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 108,000 children were waiting to be adopted in 2014—the latest statistics available. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption also outlines that 63 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of adoption, and 78 percent believe that more should be done to encourage adoption.
Editor’s Note: Those interested in volunteering to care for newborns in their area should contact their local adoption agency to inquire if a volunteer program is offered. Those wishing to contact the New York/New Jersey group Spence-Chapin as exemplified in the ABC News report may call 212-369-0300.