By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

A call to The St. Elizabeth Foundation of Baton Rouge is usually the last call women with unplanned pregnancies make when they choose to give their baby a better life and a couple a chance to build their family through adoption, according to Carolyn Morris.  

St. Elizabeth -Carolyn Morris.tif

 

Carolyn Morris

 

Through an adoption process tailored to the wishes of the biological mother, there are tears of joy, some surprises at whom a birth mom chooses as the “perfect match” among prospective adoptive parents and proud moments when biological mothers share what they want to accomplish in their owns lives.  

Morris shared her story, “God Chooses,” at the Women in Spirit meeting at St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge on Sept. 26.  

Morris’ ministry with St. Elizabeth Foundation began several years ago when she volunteered two days a week, but her skills led her to be offered full-time employment a month later. As officer manager, she finds herself often participating in the birth moms’ journeys as she helps them navigate finances, trips to doctors’ offices and the store to get necessities and in putting their lives back together. She has also occasionally been at the hospital when an adoptive baby was born.  

In an interview with The Catholic Commentator, Morris and foundation director Teri Casso said mothers often find the agency through the internet and resource pregnancy centers. But in one case, a local businessman had seen a pregnant woman under an Interstate bridge several times, and after conversations with her she visited him in his office and later contacted the St. Elizabeth Foundation, whose namesake is St. Elizabeth of Hungary, patroness of single mothers.  

“That child is in a wonderful home right here in Louisiana,” beamed Morris.  

The adoption process begins by compiling a profile of the birth mother’s attributes and preferences. The staff picks the files of several prospective adoptive parents that would be a “perfect match” to raise the child, and the birth mother reviews the files. 

The birth mother then meets with her top choice among the prospective adoptive couples to see if it is the “best fit.” The process often includes diversity among the prospective adoptive parents’ profiles.  

“We are seeing more and more diverse adoptions. The birth mom is not concerned about the adoptive parents’ race or background, they just want what’s best for the child,” said Casso. 

“It’s often very interesting … One time when a birth mom and prospective adoptive mom met they had the same handbag. They saw it as a sign. You never know what it’s going to be. Sometimes there’s something in the pictures from prospective adoptive parents that spark an immediate link. We call them ‘Godlinks,’ ” said Morris, adding that most of the adoptions are open adoptions.  

The “magic moment” for Morris is when the birth mom makes her choice and the couple who is selected to raise her child is notified. 

“We have (adoptive couples) who were on the highway and had to pull over because they were sobbing because they were chosen to be the adoptive parents,” said Morris. 

She has cried many times when the baby is given to the adoptive mother. 

“For my first hospital visit I was in the birthing room. The birth mother asked me to hold her hand during the whole thing. When the baby was born, the doctor immediately handed the baby to the adoptive mother. The adoptive mother hugged the baby and handed the baby to the birth mom. The birth mom held the baby and then gave the baby back to the adoptive mom. I still cry every time (thinking about that),” said Morris with misty eyes and voice filled with emotion.  

As eager as the adoptive families are to take home the baby, they are also sensitive of the grief that the birth mother experiences at losing her child.  

St. Elizabeth Foundation provides counseling for the birth mother, cheers her on and provides resources as she plans to improve her life.  

“I think about all the young women who have successfully navigated the adoption process and have been able to have healthy satisfying lives for themselves,” Morris said, adding that her dream is for the adoptive child one day to say “I am so proud that (the biological mother) has achieved this.”  

For more information about the St. Elizabeth Foundation, call 225-769-8888 or visit stelizabethfoundation.org.