Are you or someone you know facing an unplanned pregnancy? Do you wonder if there is somewhere you can turn for counseling and medical care? What if those services were available for free?
Doreen Jansson has been the director of Soundview Pregnancy Center on Long Island, New York for the past nine years, and she is offering a unique kind of hope and opportunity for women with big decisions to make.
Soundview Pregnancy Center
Soundview Pregnancy Center began as The Care Center on Long Island over thirty years ago. It changed its name to Soundview while Jansson was Executive Director in 2014.
A post-abortive woman herself, Jansson began volunteering for the organization during the 1990s. She immediately felt called to action while answering phone calls, folding baby clothes, and sharing her story. Now she says, “We want women to see clearly the choice they are making.”
Jansson was offered the position of Executive Director at an inopportune time, right before her husband received a serious cancer diagnosis. She had interviewed for the position twice before and got passed over. Timing, however, is not always up to us.
Jansson felt that, in spite of personal circumstances, her experience and years of hard work were leading her to take the reins at Soundview. Since she has become its director, Soundview has grown by adding resources, volunteers, and churches.
“I felt we needed a full-service approach,” Jansson stated. “Women need a professional building to walk into, a compassionate organization on every level, and a spiritual support system that connects them with local communities.”
Those who have worked with Soundview agree there was a “wonderful, caring staff who felt like a safe haven in times of crisis” and they were “so happy that a place like this exists, free of charge.”
A Full-Service Approach
Soundview hired Dr. Stan Walker to oversee its medical services. Jansson also knew the organization needed a nurse manager to organize a professional nursing staff, including budgets and schedules. She teamed up with Laura Broderick, a nurse at Stonybrook.
“We found that a very high percentage of pregnancy centers were becoming medical,” Jansson said. “They could provide ultrasounds to women. Seeing and hearing their baby’s heartbeat can impact a woman’s decision.”
Medical services include pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and information about STI’s. Women can get information about abortion pill reversal, and a hotline is available.
This resulted in a new opening for Soundview in Centereach in 2015. The organization then opened a second location in East Meadow, located in highly populated Nassau County near New York City.
“We want women to know there is a whole suite of programs they are entitled to,” Jansson said. “They are set up with a personal coach who walks them through support and classes with a regular nurse and childbirth educator. They will learn about childcare and breastfeeding. A social worker will attend to their immediate needs, including housing and social services. We can work with her on emotional support and life skills. Each woman will find a program customized to her needs.”
Pregnancy coaching allows women to learn about their baby’s developments in the womb. Women are also emotionally supported as they prepare to make major life changes.
Classes are available on nutrition, making a birth plan, and practical skills like infant CPR and learning to change a diaper. Parenting courses include those on how to parent with an ex, manage money, and develop healthy relationship habits.
Post-abortive classes are offered for individuals, groups, and men. They are designed to help individuals cope with anxiety, depression, regret, and other emotions they may be experiencing after an abortion. Other repercussions that need treatment could include eating disorders or substance abuse.
Material assistance is available to women for up to two years after a baby is born. This might include diapers, formula, and baby clothes.
Next Step Dads encourages fathers to develop strong parenting skills even if they don’t plan on getting married. They can receive financial and career guidance, parenting training, and even post-abortive care.
Fathers-to-be are encouraged to talk and listen to moms-to-be in a respectful way. They may wish to pitch in, helping with chores or errands. And they can attend childbirth classes to help prepare for the big day along with Mom.
All expecting parents need to have a plan in terms of how to discipline their child. It’s common for most parents to err on the sides of becoming too lax or strict. A firm and gentle approach is often the most respected. Dads who make a plan before parenting begins are the most successful.
Pregnancy can also become an exciting time as dads and moms think about their child’s future. How do you plan to have fun with your child, and what values do you plan on raising him or her with? You may find that getting ahead of the game mentally puts you ahead in more ways than one.
Bring on the Volunteers
Soundview is a non-profit organization, and most of its support comes from individuals and churches. Many local communities throw baby showers, where people can donate car seats, cribs, wipes, and formula. “Everything is new,” said Jansson. “A lot is done through an Amazon wish-list. Churches can adopt a family and even throw birthday parties. We encourage everyone to celebrate life.”
Soundview raises money through banquets and golf benefits, and folks can easily donate through the website. Each year, Soundview also hosts a “Walk For Life” to raise funds for the organization. Volunteers are sponsored and can enter to raise money for the organization, supported by their friends and family members. This year, however, it will be hosted online.
Volunteers at Soundview have many different roles. Some, for example, are trained ultrasound technicians or client advocates. Those without medical training, however, can sign up to help with fundraising events, or help with the paperwork and phone calls that make those events happen. Others may host baby bottle drives. All volunteers at Soundview must supply references and complete training. Many find helping those in critical situations to be a rewarding experience that keeps giving back.
COVID-19 hasn’t stopped Soundview from doing business. It is currently offering Zoom and telecoaching. Jansson reports that there is an increase in women contacting the organization.
Soundview is beginning to take appointments for ultrasounds and pregnancy tests once it reopens. Additional disinfecting and screening protocols will be put in place.
Jansson reports that the majority of moms and dads being supported by Soundview have plans to parent their child themselves. The center does, however, have several agencies they can refer you to should you choose adoption.
“Adoption is a beautiful choice that I wish more women could be educated on,” Jansson said. “Women should learn about it in a way that is accurate, so they can feel good about it later on.”
Pregnancy centers also provide information on where women who are in danger can find a “safe haven” for their children. This may be a hospital, firehouse, or police station, where the infant can be cared for temporarily. Mothers cannot get in trouble if they leave their baby at a place where a responsible adult can care for them.
Birth mothers considering adoption can reach out to pregnancy centers for support. They may also call adoption agencies directly for counseling, medical care, and other types of help.
Women choosing adoption should know that most adoptions are open. This means that there is communication between the birth mother and adoptive family throughout the baby’s lifetime. With semi-open adoptions, these communications may be emails or texts sent at regular intervals, or special occasions such as birthdays or holidays. In other cases, birth mothers may have regular visits with their child’s adoptive families.
Most adoption agencies enable birth mothers to have control over choosing the adoptive family. There may be a family with religious beliefs, traditions, or hobbies that a birth mother may immediately identify with. They may choose a family because they live in a suburban neighborhood or have a strong extended family. The relationships between adoptive and birth parents can be quite close, or it can simply be polite and amicable.
If an expectant mother calls a pregnancy center, her first step will likely be a free consultation and ultrasound. Pregnancy centers keep information entirely confidential. They cannot be discriminated against based on race, religion, nationality, or disability.
Pregnancy centers can only allow trained and licensed medical professionals to perform medical procedures. They must also carry liability coverage.
Birth mothers may choose a pregnancy center based upon their geographic location. They may also get a referral from other local expectant mothers.
When considering a pregnancy center, be sure to give them a call first and make note of how you are made to feel. Does the center seem warm, professional, and inviting? Are you listened to, and are your concerns taken seriously? Is there a professional office space that seems welcoming and respectful?
You can check out online reviews and see what former visitors are saying. Anyone can get a bad review once in a while, but if you are seeing the same comment over and over again, you probably have a good idea of what your experience will be like.
Ask for referrals and call up other local mothers. This is also a great way to begin to develop a support network as a new or single parent. Make sure you ask about how the center dealt with counseling and material needs. The right center will offer a caring, non-judgmental approach that puts the needs of you and your child as the center of the solution.
Many pregnancy centers also offer support for new moms after they give birth. This may come in the form of counseling or material support such as diapers or formula.
Postpartum depression could include symptoms such as insomnia, irritability, or loss of appetite. The right counselor can help you talk through your feelings and develop an outlook and approach to parenting that you can carry throughout your life.
As in any other situation, no one therapist or friend will be able to supply you with all the answers you would like. This is why it is critical to keep building a group of friends who can help you through your experience in diverse ways.
Many books and podcasts are inexpensive or free, and they can be wonderful resources for helping you develop a unique, healthy perspective on adoption and parenting. You will also want to reach out to a local community group or house of worship to get plugged into a group of friends who you can call when your feelings seem overwhelming. More mature parents can mentor you through the parenting process, or support you through their stories of survival of similar experiences.
Online support groups can offer anonymous support that comes from all over the world. You may be surprised to learn how many people have been through situations that mirror yours in different ways. That feeling of “I’m glad it’s not just me!” can come as a great relief at a time when you are in need of a community.
Whatever decision you make, focusing on your future is critical to keeping you strong. Maybe you plan to raise a family with a strong commitment to moral values, or you are looking forward to going back to school. Your dream experiences can be woven into a plan you didn’t know was possible before.
The Future of Pregnancy Centers
Pregnancy centers today offer much more than the simple counseling they provided years ago; they provide a holistic approach to pregnancy with the medical and material support women need at a critical time. They welcome women into a safe place to find non-judgmental support.
Forward-thinking directors like Doreen Jansson are leading the way for women who are seeking positive choices in a negative world.