Pregnant? Call or Text: 623.695.4112
Serving Pregnant Women Statewide With a Local Office Located in: Phoenix, Arizona
Adoptive Parents Call: 623.936.4729 or 800.340.9665

center for pregnacy

Ron Reigns:

Welcome. And thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 1:

Do what’s best for your kid and for yourself, because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid, and that’s not fair.

Speaker 2:

And I know that my daughter would be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 3:

Don’t have an abortion, give this child a chance.

Speaker 4:

All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m the Executive Director, President, and Co-founder of Building Arizona Families adoption agency and center for pregnancy resources, The Donna K. Evans Foundation, and creator of the You Before Me campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling. I was adopted at the age of three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:

And I’m Ron Reigns, I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the co-host of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife who’s an adoption attorney, and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Today, we’re going to discuss adoption agencies’, frontline workers. We’ve talked about some of the roles and job descriptions of people working for an adoption agency/ center for pregnancy resources. And we’ve kind of gotten some feedback on the interest of really what people do. When birth mothers come into our adoption agency program, they want to know what everybody does, what their roles are, who’s going to be doing what, and a very essential role is a Birth Mother Case Manager Assistant at a center for pregnancy support. We’ve talked about Birth Mother Case Managers. We’ve talked about a Match Coordinator. We’ve talked about other roles, but today we’re going to focus on what a birth mother Case Management Assistant is, what she does, and how integral her role is to the domestic team. And we’re going to understand more of why agencies that have this position within their team have it, what it does and how it benefits everybody at centers for pregnancy crisis and adoption. One of the reasons that adoptive families like to have knowledge of the workings of an adoption agency in a domestic team, is they really want to understand where their money’s going.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Financially, what is the breakdown, why do we have this person, why do you have to pay this, why are the fees so [inaudible 00:02:45] expensive, if you will. And I really want to make sure that I drive this point home, every role, whether it is an adoption agency director, or an adoption agency receptionist, is just as integral and important as the next there is in society and infrastructure. And it’s like that in a center for pregnancy resources and adoption as well. You have to have a strong firm base in order to have a stable working program. And a Birth Mother Case Manager Assistant is somebody that we depend on and need to keep our program running smoothly. So there’s no way our team can be successful without all of our team members. So a Birth Mother Case Manager Assistant, a very long title, by the way, we call them BMCM Assistance, is really a support role for Birth Mother Case Manager.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

With an integral role at our center for pregnancy support, they do everything from birth mother intakes, assisting with the birth mother housing during her pregnancy, assisting with the distribution of her weekly finances, arranging and providing transportation for medical appointments, they help with the food pantry, everything from ordering to stocking to building, to dispersing the food boxes. They also help the Birth Mother Case Managers when they have conflicts, they have two doctors’ appointments at the same time, and the Birth Mother Case Manager’s Assistant will go with the birth mother. So they do form relationships with the birth mothers as well. They also assist in our aftercare program. A Birth Mother Case Manager Assistant is kind of a precursor if you will, to being a Case Manager. So the adoption field, it’s relatively small, it’s a specialized field. A lot of people who come into the adoption network and want to pursue a career have very little experience because it’s such a specialized field. I know that you guys, in your law firm, Ron had this experience as well. I mean, you had to train people from the ground up.

Ron Reigns:

Absolutely. Yeah. And it’s on-the-job training for them to work towards a Case Manager position, if that’s what they’re looking for. Right, exactly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. It’s getting your feet wet before you learn how to swim. The other thing is, as a Case Manager Assistant, you don’t have to have the same experience and credentials that you do to be a Birth Mother Case Manager at a center for pregnancy support. So this is a really good starting point for people who are coming into the adoption field. There are advantages to being an assistant, there are disadvantages, and then I’m going to go over these, and then we’re actually going to talk to one of our Birth Mother Case Manager Assistants, and really get a feel for what it’s like to be in the field, on the front line, and also how COVID has affected all of this. Being a Birth Mother Case Manager Assistant, the advantage that I see as a director is you have a set schedule. So you work 9:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or if you’re part-time, you still have a set schedule.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You don’t have to work after hours. You’re not on call. You have relationships with a lot of birth mothers, and they’re not deep relationships because those are preserved for the Case Managers, but you still get to know a lot of them and a lot of their personalities. You don’t have to have a ton of experience in the adoption world or at a center for pregnancy resources. Some of them have relatively none in the adoption sector and you get to learn adoption from the ground up. It’s really almost the adoption groundwork. And I hate to say that because that sounds like demeaning, and it’s not at all. It’s, you’re in the trenches.

Ron Reigns:

Right. But I think like you said earlier, it is getting your feet wet and making sure that this is the direction you want to go with your career, for instance, and you get to see the actual Case Managers who give up 24 hours of their day for these calls that three o’clock in the morning, that they don’t have to deal with, but they can go, “Okay. Yeah, I can do that.” And it gets their feet wet. That’s all.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah, yeah, and they learn so much. It’s one of those positions that you will never forget, even if you don’t continue on in the adoption field or at a  center for pregnancy support, you will never forget the experiences that you have. Now, the disadvantages of being a Birth Mother Case Manager Assistant are you don’t get to be present at labor and delivery. That’s reserved for the Case Manager. You don’t really get to form deep relationships with the birth mothers.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Again, that is primarily for the Birth Mother Case Managers. And you don’t always get to follow the case all the way through, which is kind of hard. I mean, you can go back and review the notes and talk with the Birth Mother’s Case Manager and check in on her and see how she’s doing, but you don’t get the glory of being there at those moments when the baby’s born, when the adoptive family meets the baby when the birth mother meets the adoptive family for the first time. Like those are the fireworks in adoption and a Birth Mother Case Manager Assistant also doesn’t execute adoption consents.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So she is present during the intake and in and out of the journey as she is needed for that birth mother. It’s one of those situations where you look at her position and realize it’s important, and she does play a role. And it’s a role that is very much needed. Right now, we have three Birth Mother Case Manager Assistants on our domestic team alone. And our domestic team right at our center for pregnancy resources now consists of about 20 to 21 people. And that’s just our team. That’s not the whole agency, that’s just the team. So, that kind of gives your perspective of where they fall into in terms of numbers. So let’s go ahead and, speak with Amber and see what she has to say. Amber, how long have you been with us?

Amber:

I have been with Building Arizona Families for, it’ll be two years in October.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Time flies, time flies.

Amber:

Yeah, it does. It feels like forever, but yeah, it doesn’t.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Fair enough. So why don’t you start off and tell us a little bit about what you do and then Ron and I have some questions to kind of explain to our listeners a little bit more about your role, what you do and what you think of working in the adoption world?

Amber:

Sure. So I am a Case Aid or Case Manager, Birth Mom Case Manager Assistant. Well lately, I’ve primarily been doing intakes. So I do the birth mother intakes with them when they first come in. And then I explain it as I’m just an Assistant to the Case Manager. So I back them up, if they need help with something, they can come to me and ask me and I’ll help them with anything that they may need backup with. I also take care of stuff at the office, like our food pantry and aftercare bags, inventory of stuff, basically, that we need for our birth mothers.

Ron Reigns:

When you got into this, was there anything that kind of shocked you or surprised you about the industry or…

Amber:

I think adoption shocks a lot of people because until you are in it, even our birth mothers come in sometimes for their intakes and we’ll be talking and they’ll be asking you questions and they’re like, “My gosh, I didn’t know that. Wow. I didn’t know that.” And I’m like, it’s not what it is on TV. What you see on TV is not really the way that it works. So I think that that’s kind of like, I guess I just, I really didn’t know a lot about adoption when I came in, and so I think it was kind of that same initial reaction that a lot of people have, “Wow, this is not at all what I have thought it is,” through watching TV or hearing about it in general. It’s just, it’s not, it’s a lot different.

Ron Reigns:

So what was like your first big shock that you realized at where you were like, oh my God, this is, I mean, was there one moment that you can pinpoint that it kind of changed your view?

Amber:

I don’t really think that there was like a specific moment. I would just say, especially I think with birth moms, like it’s probably a better example, they’ll ask about like communication and how it works at the hospital and stuff. And I think they just have a view of, it’s not as much in their control. It’s more, they get more control than they think they do before they come in, if that makes sense. They do get to choose whether they want communication, and I kind of feel like sometimes TV portrays it as it’s not that, they don’t get those choices. And I think that that’s shocking to them. Like, I think it’s a good shock that they’re like, “Wow, I really didn’t know that, this is not really what I’ve seen on TV.”

Ron Reigns:

Right, right, when you first got into this, was this just like a job or were you pursuing this and thinking I would like to get into the adoption field?

Amber:

You know what it’s funny, so, I went to school to be a counselor. I got my bachelor’s. I had not gotten my master’s yet, but my initial goal when I started college was to be a counselor. I wanted to work with children. And as I went through school and then after having children of my own, I knew that that wasn’t really, I didn’t, that wasn’t the path that I wanted to go down anymore. And when I heard about Building Arizona Families, and that there was an opportunity available for me, I was super excited because again, you don’t really hear about adoption. So it feels very, it was exciting for me to know that there was a chance for me to work in a field that I would’ve never thought that I was able to work in. So, I mean, initially that wasn’t my, I wanted to work with kids and now I’m just like, this is is my heart, for sure.

Ron Reigns:

So you see yourself progressing in this field and making this a career and well, it actually becomes a lifestyle.

Amber:

Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely shown me that working with women who have, whether it’s domestic violence or substance use, it’s definitely shown me that that is where my passion is, for sure.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You know, Amber, I know that you and I have talked at length about, you’ve been with us for, like you said, almost two years, and I’ve been begging you to continue to… You’re laughing because you know where I’m going with this, to work more and more. Are you ever going to consider becoming a Case Manager?

Amber:

I toss it back and forth, I don’t want to say yes that’s for sure my end goal, but I don’t want to say no either. I’m super happy with the position that I’m in. I feel that I fit really well in the position that I’m in. And I like the balance that it gives me between work and family too.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes, and that is a huge advantage of being a Case Manager Assistant at a center for pregnancy support. I mean, that’s a huge advantage. I will say that.

Amber:

It is, yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What do you think, without saying any names or identifying information, what is the best memory? It can be the funniest, it can be… What is the best memory you have so far from your job that you’ve done?

Amber:

I feel like I’ve had a lot of really cool experiences, even just in conversations that I’ve had with our birth moms. I would have to say if I had to pick one memory because I don’t get to spend a lot of time at the hospital with our birth moms or our adoptive parents, I think one of my best memories would be when I got to see an adoptive parents see their child for the first time. That was cool because I’m on the birth mother side of it. And so I don’t get to see the other side very often if ever. And so that was really cool for me to see them meeting their baby for the first time.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And what was that like?

Amber:

It was really, I was emotional. They were crying. I’m trying not to cry because I’m like, okay, this is my job. I have to be… But it was really cool. It was really, it was emotional. And I don’t think that that moment, I don’t think that moment could ever get old for anybody.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Totally agree. Now, did that moment surprise you? I mean, was it what you thought it would be, did it go exactly how you anticipated or was it different?

Amber:

I would say, I guess it was probably what I thought it would be, just their emotions and just joy, but I don’t know that I had ever really pictured what I thought it would look like. I guess I would have to say that like I had imagined that there would be a lot of emotion and joy and that’s what I saw.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What do you think is the hardest thing you’ve had to see in the adoption role? Cause there are happy, happy moments and there are dark moments.

Amber:

Yeah, there is, for me in my experience, I would just have to say, I can give an example. I did an ICWA hearing this is a while back, and so, it’s a two-hour drive and a two-hour drive home and you’re with the birth mother the whole time.

Amber:

And I think that some of those moments after they’ve had the baby, is probably, it’s the hardest for them, but for us as well, it’s hard because they are very emotional and for me, I’ve never had a child and placed a child for adoption. So I feel for them, but it’s hard for me in those moments because I don’t know what to say to them because I haven’t gone through it. So what could I possibly say to make them feel better? I feel like that’s a hard aspect and watching them go through all the emotions and beating themselves up. I mean, there was one ICWA hearing that I did where she cried the whole way home.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah, that’s hard.

Amber:

And I had to talk, we talked the whole way home about all kinds of different stuff. Not even just her adoption just in is what she had been through in her life, and that was a hard day for me because it was just, it was sad for me to watch her go through all of that and watch her emotionally put herself through what she was putting herself through with other past experiences in her life, just in general. Those are probably some of the harder moments in my job.

Ron Reigns:

In a way though, is that somewhat rewarding? Because I mean, you’re listening to the heartbreaking and tragic stories from the birth mothers or whoever you’re talking to, but you’re also giving them support at the same time. You’re kind of helping them by letting them get that out. Do you try and look at it as a positive still?

Amber:

Totally, it’s almost like, I’m listening to them and supporting them through. So yes, definitely, it is very rewarding, and I definitely see the positives in that part of it, for sure.

Ron Reigns:

Now, as far as continuing your career and potentially becoming a Case Manager, you said you kind of waffle on this issue, what are some of the reasons probably what is the biggest reason that you would decide this is too much for me? Is it the time, is it the emotional connection you’ve got to make? What is the one thing that’s kind of standing in your way of going just feet first into the whole thing?

Amber:

To be completely honest, I have young children. So, that’s my biggest … where I kind of say, I don’t really know. I think I would love it and I would love being able to work with them a little bit closer than I do now, and being able to be at the hospital with them and walk them through that process. I just, I do have young ones, and so it’s hard when you have a birth mom in labor and you have to, you’re her support person and you’ve got to be there with her and you’ve got young kids. That’s hard to juggle that. So I think that that’s probably my biggest-

Ron Reigns:

And it doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas or the night of your daughter’s first recital or whatever it is, the job kind of has to come first. So I totally understand that.

Amber:

Yeah, yep, I would say that’s my biggest hold, hold up with it is I want to always make sure that I give a hundred percent in every place that I’m at. And I feel like right now I’m able to do that.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Good for you, I respect your limitations. That’s amazing. And so if somebody was interested in becoming a Case Manager Assistant, what would you tell them?

Amber:

I would tell them that I think that if someone’s able to have an opportunity, like this being a Birth Mom Case Manager Assistant, that they should take it. If they want to do social work, it’s a really good starting point, and it also does show you like, is this something that you can do? It’s not for everybody. And do you want to be a Birth Mom Case Manager, and you can actually see it beforehand and you can learn too. So you are confident in what you’re doing.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah, I would say you’re right. As a Case Manager Assistant, one of the advantages you have, if you are early on in a social work career is, you do deal with a myriad of issues from domestic violence to homelessness, to mental illness, to drug use, I mean, it just goes on and on and on. And so you do learn lots of different aspects of social work all underneath the umbrella of adoption. So, I do think that’s very powerful.

Amber:

I think it’s a really good starting point for anyone and honestly, I mean, I would say you should start as a Case Manager Assistant before you’re Case Manager, depending on your experience, obviously. But I just think it’s a really good place to start with the work that we do.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

All right. Well, I really appreciate you speaking with us.

Amber:

Thanks for having me.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

All right, thank you, and have a great rest of your day.

Amber:

You too.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Ron, I have to say in working alongside Amber and I can’t believe it’s almost been in two years, I mean, time flies, she has brought so much light and joy to not only our birth mothers but our domestic team as well. Everything from her disposition to her insight, to her levels of empathy, are just unparalleled. We are so lucky to have her and I’m speaking on behalf of our team and our birth mothers.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

One last thing before we close is I wanted to clarify for listeners that have just joined us recently and haven’t listened to the previous podcast when she’s referring to an ICWA hearing, what that is, it is that is an Indian Child Welfare Act hearing that is held up in Flagstaff, Arizona, that women who are Native American or have a native American child attend after the birth of their child.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So I just wanted to clarify what that was so that people aren’t thinking, what on earth is she referring to. When we are doing these podcasts, where we’re kind of zoning in on one of the roles in adoption at center for pregnancy support and adoption, I think it’s important to remember that every role is significant and going in and really examining what each person does hopefully will help put things in perspective when we’re explaining adoption as a whole and how an agency functions.

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. If you’re listening and you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about a adoption, Building Arizona Families as a local Arizona adoption agency and center for pregnancy resources. We are available 24×7 by phone or text at (623) 695-4112 that’s 6-2-3-6-9-5-4-1-1-2. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get started on creating an Arizona adoption plan, or just get you more information. You can also find out more information about Building Arizona Families on their website at AZ Pregnancy help.com. Thanks also go out to grapes for allowing us to use their song I Don’t Know, as our theme song. Birth Mother Matters in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please, rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us. We’d really appreciate it. We also now have a website at Birth Mother Matters podcast.com. Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This