Ann Lapin is an "interim parent," a volunteer who helps adoptive parents take care of their babies until they're ready to go home.
In an eye-opening personal essay, an "interim parent" opened up about what it is like to care for adoptive babies before they go to their respective homes.
Ann Lapin, a volunteer who signed up for New York City's interim parenting program, highlighted how rare such an initiative was. She began her community service when she came across a Yahoo! group post from a mother in her local neighborhood. Ever since, she has been an interim parent to dozens of babies, with roughly 30 percent of them going back to their birth parents. Lapin said the volunteer opportunity is an emotional but worthwhile journey.
"I became an interim parent when a local mom posted about it on our neighborhood Yahoo! group," she explains in her essay. "'That! THAT I can do!' I thought as I looked at the computer screen. I was thrilled. I felt incapable of doing other types of volunteer work, but I felt like I had finally found a community service that I could perform. So, my husband and I applied. And after months of doctor appointments, background checks, interviews, and letters of reference from close friends, we were accepted." As an interim parent, Lapin helps adoptive parents feel more secure in their status as parents.
She writes, "The hope with the interim boarding care program is that biological parents have time to gain clarity about their decisions without pressure. Roughly 30 percent of the babies I've cared for have returned to their biological parents after their stay with me, and the rest have been adopted. Many of the birth mothers I've known have pursued open adoptions, selecting and meeting their child's forever families." According to the interim parent, every case is unique. Therefore, the experiences she has with each baby are wildly different from one another.
"Babies stay with us, on average, for a few weeks," she shares. "But one baby stayed with us [for] five days, another for nine and a half weeks. Whatever the scenario, my family and I are available to care for these babies until they go home... Wherever "home" may be... This work can be emotionally challenging, too. Some biological parents do not interact with us at all while they're making big decisions, and some end up being very involved. Some text regularly, requesting photos and updates on the baby while the baby is in our care. Sometimes they schedule weekly visits with the babies. One birth mom became such a constant in our life that my son asked if we could bake her cookies."
One thing that is constant, however, is how grateful the biological parents are for Lapin's service. And while she does have her own kids, the interim parent always wonders how long it will be before she can take care of another baby. She notes, "I don't get attached to each baby, per se. But I get attached to having a baby, to taking care of a baby. I resent my empty arms, and I feel like I've lost my purpose. So each time I see the adoption agency's phone number pop up on caller ID, my heart skips a beat." But the emptiness she feels is always accompanied by a sense of happiness for the babies she cares for and the families they go home to. "The emotions I feel are because of the fullness in my heart and the gratitude I have for being a part of each of these babies' stories," Lapin concludes. "Even if it's just for a moment."