Encouraging Parents to Carry to Term: Prolife Advocacy when there is a Prenatal Diagnosis
Perinatal Hospice Part 3
by Tracy Winsor,
North Carolina parents, Javier and Carolina Castro, were offered two options by their medical provider when they were told at twenty weeks gestation that their son had a lethal kidney anomaly. Abort within the next week in North Carolina or travel to Georgia and abort sometime in the next month.
It was a friend who suggested a third option…carrying the baby to term. She connected the couple to a local organization, Be Not Afraid (BNA), which offered perinatal hospice support to parents carrying to term following a prenatal diagnosis. A BNA volunteer called Carolina Castro within hours.
“At first, she asked me just to listen to what she had to say,” explains Castro. “I had no hope that she had information that would be helpful for me. I had only heard of pregnancies with complications being terminated.”
The volunteer acknowledged Carolina’s feelings of shock and grief. She told Carolina that the “diagnosis day” was the worst. Often parents at diagnosis fear that the worst is yet to come when really the worst has already happened.
She said that the birth, even if it meant a death, would be easier than the diagnosis because there would be time to prepare.
She provided information regarding BNA support, and encouraged Carolina to look at the FAQ page at ww.perinatalhospice.net so that she could be fully aware of the research that supported continuing the pregnancy as well as the risks of a second trimester abortion.
She shared stories about parents she had supported who had no regrets about continuing their pregnancies. It gave them time to cherish their child’s life. She also reminded Carolina that her son had not been changed by the diagnosis; he was still the baby she had loved from the moment she knew he existed.
She shared parents videos available at the BNA website so that Carolina would feel less isolated in the experience of this diagnosis, and so that she and Javier could begin to envision the possibilities of choosing not to abort.
“This made all the difference to us,” shares Castro. “We didn’t feel alone.”
“And I remember,” Castro adds, “That when she talked about our son, Gabriel, she referred to him as our precious baby. This was so calming in the midst of the turmoil inside my head. She recognized him as someone who mattered.”
While the primary focus of BNA is in serving parents who have committed to carrying to term, the organization is always prepared to provide information and prolife encouragement to parents who are undecided or even abortion-minded.
BNA Co-founder, Sandy Buck, explains, “We are fully committed to the dignity of all life no matter how frail or how brief, and that commitment is not only reflected in the care we provide to the parents who decide to carry to term and the babies welcomed by our service, but also in our willingness to engage parents who are undecided.”
Carolina Castro was one such parent who ultimately decided to continue her pregnancy. The BNA volunteers who supported her and Javier in welcoming their son considered it a privilege.
On September 17, 2013, Gabriel Andres Castro was born still.
In a blog post two days later, Carolina wrote…
One thought I do have very clear in my mind and in my heart, is that yes, it was all worth it…The diagnosis (day) was the worst day. The day when they tell you what you hoped, what you thought you had, was no more. “Your baby is incompatible with life…” That was the…day of darkness, of hopelessness, of fear…
September 17th, four months later, was very different. It was a day of celebration, of union, of unconditional love.
Castro reflects, “I have no regrets whatsoever. I am so glad the option of carrying to term was explained to me, and so glad I listened.”
Javi and Carolina are featured in a BNA parent DVD available at the LINK HERE. Their interview is featured in the subsection entitled, “At diagnosis, parents need information regarding the option of carrying to term.”
Tracy L. Winsor, MPA, is Cofounder of Be Not Afraid (BNA), a private non-profit corporation whose mission is to provide comprehensive, practical, and peer-based support to parents experiencing a prenatal diagnosis and carrying to term. She can be reached directly at [email protected].