The most common question people ask me when they find out I am a kangaroo mom is, “Oh wow, don’t you get attached?”.
And then they usually add, “I could never do that. I would just keep them.”
Being a kangaroo mom means that I am a mom to a newborn baby that is awaiting adoption. The biological mother signs at birth and again at 60 days. During this period, she can change her mind about the adoption. I usually get the babies from birth; straight from the hospital and keep them until just after the 60 day waiting period is up.
Yes, I get attached and yes, I want to keep every baby; and yes, when they leave my heart breaks, but this doesn’t stop me. I see the bigger picture. There are mothers that just cannot keep their babies and there are mothers that are desperate to have a baby. And then there are babies needing a home for just a little while before they are placed in their forever families.
From a very early age I was always drawn to babies. I was always asking new mothers to let me hold, change or play with their babies. Lucky for me I had great support and the mothers that I knew would always encourage and teach me how to handle and care for their babies.
Once I was old enough, I did lots of babysitting and studied Early Childhood Education after school. 7 years ago, when I was in my 5th year of studying, I met a lady living on the street. She had nothing for her baby and asked me to help her. So I did.
We agreed that she would leave her baby with me overnight and pick her up in the mornings so that I could go to college. When she wasn’t able to fetch her, my friends would help me take care of her. This carried on for 3 months until plans were made for the baby to go live with her aunt. After this I was hooked. I couldn’t stop thinking that there were more babies out there that needed a home. I spoke to a social worker who told me how desperate they were for “safety parents”and when I heard some of the stories, I knew I had to get involved. I was screened and approved as a place of safety and was given my first ‘legal baby’. Since then I have had 21 babies in my home as well as provided Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) for 2 preemies in hospital.
I have found that people are so quick to judge expectant mothers who choose adoption for their babies. We have to understand that some people have no hope and we should help them to create happy lives, no matter what their history or what they decide. None of us are perfect, so let’s rather not point fingers. Sometimes we don’t even know the full story anyway and sometimes it’s better that way.
I am very passionate about babies: especially these babies born for adoption. These babies have lives to live. They are on this earth for a reason. There is no shame that they are for adoption. It’s a beautiful thing that takes place actually: where a baby is taken out of one bloodline and put into another. Lives are changed because of it.
Some may say “the problem is too big, there are way too many babies. I can’t make a difference”. This is not true. I am always reminded of the story about the boy throwing beached starfish back into the ocean. A man came up to him and said, “There are thousands of starfish here, you will never make a difference.” While throwing the next starfish back into the ocean, the boy replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one… and that one… and that one…”
I want to encourage you to take a step and make a difference: no matter how small. There are many ways you can help:
- Donating breastmilk is one such way!!! “Milk matters” is a breastmilk bank which supplies breastmilk to premature and sick babies in hospitals. Moms can express and send their milk to them. Just 50mls feeds a premature baby for a day! I believe in all the benefits of breastmilk and am always trying to get donations for babies in my care. Unfortunately,because they are usually full term and a healthy weight, they do not qualify to get the donations from Milk Matters. I wish more moms would consider donating to them so that eventually even the babies that are for adoption could receive this “white gold”.
- Volunteer/donate your old pregnancy clothing to pregnancy crisis centres. They also need toiletries, food etc.
- Volunteer/donate baby goods (furniture, toys, clothing, toiletries, nappies, formula etc) to baby homes or ‘kangaroo moms’.
- Become a place of safety/kangaroo mom or foster parent. Also look at options of being holiday and weekend parents to children in orphanages and baby homes.
- 40% of South Africans are children. 8% of these children are adoptable. Only 0.2% will be adopted. Consider adoption.