From Crisis to Joy: The Work of a Crisis Pregnancy Center Volunteer
- Wednesday, January 13, 2010
My training to be a volunteer at the Crisis Pregnancy Center was finished. I felt prepared in my head but not my heart. As each person entered the door, I feared a new problem. So I asked Cliff, the director, if I could be at the front desk for the first weeks, answering the phone.
But even the phone calls proved to be an adventure of nerves. Each call spelled CRISIS to me, and I finally said, "Cliff, when I say hello, that's all I know!" His compassionate heart was evident as he encouraged me. It wasn't long before his confidence and my perseverance paid off. I began to appreciate the opportunity to work at this wonderful place.
I was not prepared, however, for the phone call I received one afternoon.
"Hi, Lucy, I am so glad you are at the phone. I can't come back as a counselor. Please tell Cliff that I must resign." My questions were answered with the sounds of crying.
"Susan", I quietly said, "Please calm down and tell me why you can't come in to talk with Cliff."
The story unfolded. She thought her own daughter was pregnant. How could she counsel others to abstain from having pre-marital sexual relations when she could not counsel her own daughter? How could she even help others find answers to life, when she had none of her own? But she finally agreed to come back just for a visit and to say goodbye.
Within a few weeks, Susan's daughter Janie came in for the pregnancy test and yes, it was positive. I now felt confident at my work and glad she was my client. I loved this family.
It did not take long to discover Janie was making plans to enter a maternity home. She also wanted to keep her baby. "My boyfriend has said he will not marry me. I have also heard that he has gotten another girl pregnant. So I will not show my face at that high school again." Janie's line of thinking was understandable, but I informed her that the choice to live at her chosen maternity home was usually made with the support of family. Where were her parents in all this?
Her answer to my next question was vital to her future: "Who will help you after the baby is born?"
Janie said she never thought her parents would be an obstacle to bringing her baby home. Her family is close and full of love. She responded with confidence,"Oh, I'll come back home, of course."
A tinge of doubt struck me. Would it be that simple? In fact, the whole situation was getting more complex. A few days later, I encountered another client. A young girl whose name sounded familiar, but I couldn't quite place her. The test affirmed she was pregnant. But it wasn't until she wrote down the name of the father that I recognized her. Janie's boyfriend had also gotten her pregnant. This crisis was turning into a disaster!
When I talked with Susan and Janie that afternoon, I agreed that getting away from town would be a good idea. We made plans to visit several maternity homes in the area. That was not a part of my volunteer work but again, this family was close to my heart.
That day the conversation didn't go very far before Janie dropped the bombshell: "Mom does not want my baby. I will not be able to return home. Now we have to find me and my baby a place to live."
Susan immediately cried out, "Janie, you know this is a bi-racial baby, and it needs an African American home."
Janie replied, "Mother, I have not told you yet. I saw Dr. Sawyer last week." She patted her tummy and said, "This is not an 'it'. My baby is a girl. She will be precious, and you will love her dearly if you will just take us back home when I leave the hospital." They bickered back and forth before getting up to leave. We shared a closing prayer in a room full of tension.
I knew there would be many words between the two as they returned home to Susan's husband, Janie's father and the grandfather-to-be. As an outstanding leader in our town with a quiet strength, I felt he would be a strong decision maker in this confusion.
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