I have a new found love: options counseling. Who knew? I mean, I've done options counseling for years; but in my experience, it's not that common many women ask for it. Usually, women who call the clinic already know they want an abortion. They've had a few days (weeks, months) to think about it. They're certain. Or they wouldn't call to begin with. (Most of the time.)
Occasionally, however, a woman calls and says she is unsure of her decision and wants to talk to someone. Even so, almost every single person I've spoken to only considered two options: abortion or motherhood. Not adoption. I've never thought it was odd women didn't include adoption in their options; and I assumed for those that adoption was a serious consideration, they'd just call the local Open Adoption agency (like this one) or maybe their church. Not the abortion clinic.
I've recently provided options counseling to two women only considering abortion or adoption. Believe it or not, in my many years as an abortioneer, I had never ever ever talked to a woman who considered adoption (unless she was over the gestational limit for an elective abortion and adoption or giving birth became her only options. But that's different.)! How I've gone so long talking to zero women about adoption (because they've all been like, "Um. Nope! Can't do adoption. No way!") might be strange.
I have no clue what I'd do without Anne Baker's "Abortion and Options Counseling" (here or here) and The Pregnancy Options Workbook. I have to say, though, I have loved.loved.loved.loved this new experience in options counseling where adoption has entered the equation. I feel stretched. I'm learning more. And it's fascinating! Maybe because it's new to me. Regardless, these two women have taught me a lot and I find myself thinking of them regularly. They've reminded why I love - even adore - this work so much. They've reminded me to stop. To pause. In options counseling, you need to get to know the women better. To listen to their hearts, their dreams, their deepest desires. I get an opportunity to do a really good job. To excel at my work. To listen.Listen.Listen. To ask hard questions that maybe others can't ask. To feel honored to be the person to listen. To make a connection with more depth and even get to spend more time with them.
When a woman is right on the cusp between two completely different lives, two completely worlds, it's astonishing. Awesome. Really quite amazing to witness. In all seriousness, when these options counseling sessions take place, I hear in my mind Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken,"
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Frost knew what he was talking about. It's hard to make decisions, to make choices. I think these women are quite incredible and brave. And I truly feel honored to listen to them. Grateful, even. And...on that note, dear Abortioneers...if you haven't yet heard, here's some super duper fab news: The Backline (Options Counseling talkline) is re-opening starting THURSDAY! Check it out here. Congrats, Backline!