Adoption services continue in pandemic

Published: June 24, 2020

The following article was originally published in Catholic Charities Connections, a special section of Arkansas Catholic, on June 20, 2020.

By Antje Harris, LSW
Director of Catholic Adoption Services

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our daily lives and the scope of our work at Catholic Adoption Services. Our hearts go out to all those who have fallen ill or have lost someone they loved to this terrible disease. We know that many others are suffering due to job loss, financial stress, separation from family and friends, educational challenges, child care problems, fears of what might come next and myriad other concerns.

The Diocese of Little Rock made the difficult decision March 17 to close our doors to outside clients and visitors, but adoption services have continued. We appreciate the support we have received to work safely from home to the extent possible. The staff also has the option to come to the office part-time and in staggered shifts to limit risks. Those who choose to come in use social distancing, wear masks and, of course, lots of hand-washing.

Thanks to technology we are able to stay in contact with many individuals and families through texts, calls, emails and video conferencing. Rebecca Jones, the child placement specialist, recently conducted a homestudy update with a waiting adoptive family through the Zoom video conference app. She will do a virtual post-placement “visit,” also on Zoom, with a family who adopted a baby girl earlier in the year.

Follow-up contact can be made this way and no one will have unnecessary exposure. We are not able to do initial application or homestudy visits with new clients as we do not feel we gather the needed information through remote contact alone. It is a great way to keep up with families we already know well.

We are allowed to have these virtual meetings through a Child Welfare Agency waiver in place at least until July 1. We recently earned our annual required continuing education units with a live four-day webinar conducted by the MidSOUTH Center for Prevention and Training through the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. We look forward to when it will be possible for us to meet with our clients again, but we will continue to do all we can while staying safe.