Resource centers can help take desperation out of pregnancy concerns

Paula Andrews was there to help when the newborn cried.

The Everett woman called 911 Friday to report what sounded like a baby’s cry coming from a dumpster. She crawled into the trash bin and found the infant boy. His umbilical cord was still attached.

Who was there to help the baby’s mother? How could anyone feel so hopeless?

“When someone feels the only option is to dump a child in a dumpster, they have not told anyone. They have not gone anywhere. They are in that desperate mode,” said Beth Graef, marketing director for Pregnancy Resource Center, an Everett nonprofit.

“I could literally line people up down the block willing to adopt a baby,” Angel Metcalf said. She is executive director of Pregnancy Aid of Snohomish County, another Everett organization that helps expectant and new mothers.

Neither organization is the place to go for someone considering abortion or planning to terminate a pregnancy — and young women should know that up front. Critics of faith-based agencies like Pregnancy Resource Center and Pregnancy Aid of Snohomish County see them as working to limit women’s access to comprehensive reproductive care, which includes abortion.

What they do offer is free and confidential help that includes adoption referrals, infant clothing, car seats and other support. “We do not refer for abortions,” Graef said.

There are differences between the agencies, which have both been in Everett for decades.

Pregnancy Aid of Snohomish County, which is associated with Roman Catholic churches in Everett and Marysville, provides maternity wear, infant layettes, clothing for babies and children, and new car seats. It offers counseling, adoption information and referrals, but doesn’t have a medical staff or clinic equipment.

Metcalf said the agency serves nearly 300 clients a month. Those needing ultrasound services are referred to Next Step Pregnancy Services in Lynnwood. She said Pregnancy Aid plans to offer ultrasound by later this year. Every Wednesday, there are representatives at Pregnancy Aid to help people sign up for health insurance to cover their pregnancies and babies.

The Pregnancy Resource Center does offer laboratory pregnancy tests and limited obstetric ultrasounds, as well as childbirth and baby preparation classes, new mom support groups, a parenting class, an infant massage class and more.

“We have a wide range of resources to be able to refer them to the right places,” Graef said. There is no income requirement. And fathers are welcome in the classes.

The Baby Boutique at Pregnancy Resource Center is stocked with new or gently used maternity and baby clothing, diapers, strollers, bouncy chairs and other baby items. Items are “purchased” with points, which are earned by being involved through having an ultrasound, attending support groups, birth preparation classes or workshops at the center.

“We don’t charge for our services, but we offer ‘earn while you learn.’ If you take one of our prenatal workshops, you earn 15 points to spend in the boutique,” Graef said. It can be helpful for young women just to see they aren’t alone, she added.

Graef said the agency has helped mothers-to-be with school and housing options, and with exploring the differences between open and closed adoptions.

The Herald’s front-page story Tuesday about the baby in the dumpster included information about Safe Haven Infant Protection laws, which allow newborns to be dropped off at staffed fire stations or hospital emergency rooms.

People need real help long before a baby is born. An unplanned pregnancy can be overwhelming for anyone, and a crisis for any family.

Pregnancy Resource Center serves about 2,200 young women each year. “A young person may come in and say, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do,’?” Graef said.

Talking with people who know where to turn is doing something.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Pregnancy help

Pregnancy Resource Center, 4310 Hoyt Ave. in Everett, offers free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, childbirth preparation classes, adoption information, support groups for new parents and more. 425-339-2175 or www.realchoices.com

Pregnancy Aid of Snohomish County, 3202 Hoyt Ave. in Everett, provides clothing for babies, children and expectant moms, new car seats, adoption information and other referrals. (425) 252-6444 or www.pregnancyaidsc.org/home.aspx

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