Imagine it’s two days before Christmas Eve. You’re 21 years old, homeless, and pregnant. You don’t know what to do now. You don’t know where to turn, who to turn to, or where to go. As a young expecting mother, you can’t find the pregnancy resources you need to survive, like shelter or care.
By the grace of God, a young expectant mother, Diana* (name has been changed to protect the person’s identity) was facing these exact circumstances and was able to connect with Save the Storks. When team leaders at Save the Storks heard about her critical need, they immediately took action and diligently made calls to seek a maternity home for her. Unfortunately, due to the holidays, many shelters were all short-staffed or closed, and we were unable to get help for this homeless expectant mom. Save the Storks made the decision to secure a hotel in a safe, beautiful neighborhood for her.
Helping Pregnant Women During Tough Seasons
- Crises occur any time of the year, but especially during the holidays. Imagine a woman left out in the cold or unable to seek help, on Christmas. It’s difficult to make connections during times like this, and with the information on the internet being fragmented or scarce, searching for shelter and care becomes a huge hurdle.
- Many women who find themselves in these situations easily become weary and demotivated. They don’t only need shelter, but hospitality, empathy, personal devotion, and inspiration for them to feel like they can keep going.
- These circumstances can even lead to women struggling with their mental health.
Diana has Bipolar disorder, and when our Save the Storks team met her, she was very quiet and standoffish. Even so, we couldn’t stand the thought of her spending Christmas all alone in a hotel. So she joined one of our leaders for a family gathering on Christmas Eve. Our family and friends made sure to include her in all the fun, despite her being reserved. On Christmas Day, she opened up and shared all that had transpired in her life.
At just four years old, Diana was taken from her biological parents and became a ward of the state. She lived at an orphanage in Los Angeles until she was adopted at the age of 10. During her time at the orphanage, Diana was sexually abused repeatedly by older girls. After she was adopted, things felt a bit more normal, but not for long. She was eventually taken from her adoptive parents due to signs of physical abuse. She bounced from a San Diego orphanage to various centers for children with mental illnesses. At 19, she became pregnant, but lost her parental rights to her adoptive parents.
In late October 2021, Diana got into a car accident and totaled her car. While at the hospital, she found out she was pregnant with her second child.
The Importance of Advocates
Diana experienced much abuse and neglect. As Save the Storks reviewed her paperwork with other colleagues in the child welfare services, we observed several inconsistencies that indicated a mishandling of her childhood case. Diana did not have an advocate. Throughout the entire process, she was not represented well.
We see so much fight in Diana, she just needs someone to fight with her. She needs an advocate: a person or people to walk alongside her, to cheer her on. This goes for all women.
- Advocates are necessary for expecting mothers to help them navigate the system, research, and find the right pregnancy resources.
- Women with previous unpleasant child welfare services encounters are especially vulnerable. They live in fear that the child in their womb will be taken.
The good news is that many organizations like EMA (Every Mother’s Advocate) have built a program for someone like Diana. As we tried to help Diana during the holidays, the founder of EMA was instrumental in helping provide contacts and solutions. Their partnership with us has also allowed them to expand their reach from Florida nationwide.
a note from Diana* to one of our Save the Storks leaders
The Need for Mental Health Education and Resources
The holidays came and went, and as the doors of these nonprofit organizations began to open, we discovered that the outlook still wasn’t favorable for Diana. Many places would not take Diana because she has Bipolar disorder. Since January 3rd, we have gone through several programs to connect Diana with available pregnancy resources. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful. It opened our eyes to the following:
- Mental health issues are common among youth, especially ones from the foster care system. Programs that are available for them should not be so difficult to locate.
- Programs should consider being more inclusive to women from all walks of life. A mental health issue should not be the reason why a woman is turned away, unless she’s deemed harmful to others.
- We need the education on how to handle an individual with past trauma or mental health issues.
This experience truly opened our eyes. We have to work harder to come alongside women in need. Especially women who are expecting. These young adults who have experienced abuse and neglect are among the most vulnerable members of our community. They also present us with some of the greatest opportunities to make a lasting impact. To see how difficult it has been to get Diana the help she needs is saddening, but also motivating. It helps us realize that we need education, a repositioning of the heart, and a new perspective moving forward.
How Save the Storks helps with pregnancy resources
Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child and Youth says, “The single most common factor for children and young adults who develop the capacity to overcome serious hardship is having at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult.”
For now, we commit to being the support system that women like Diana need. We will walk alongside these women for as long as it takes.
Save the Storks is working to craft solutions to make the walk with these women more available nationwide. We are continuing to equip hundreds of pregnancy resource centers with the essentials and the mindset they need to be there for every woman. Because Save the Storks is For Every Woman. Every woman deserves to write a better story. She deserves hope and empowerment. Every woman deserves to thrive.