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California Adoption Home . . . Aims To Enrich Lives Of Pregnant Moms

January 6, 2015 Frontpage No Comments

By DEXTER DUGGAN

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — The young woman was in jail on a charge of smuggling drugs over the border. She’d already borne two babies with different fathers — two men whose “bad lifestyles” led to their own early deaths.
Now she was pregnant again but wouldn’t consider adoption because, according to her Mexican culture, “even a dog wouldn’t do that,” giving up its puppies to someone else.
She had an abortion scheduled soon but was persuaded to have an ultrasound. “I didn’t know my baby had fingers,” she said upon seeing images of the unborn child. She went to a maternity home specializing in adoption, turned her life around, and went on to become a medical assistant.
“I could sit here and tell you stories all day long” about such successful transformations of troubled pregnant women’s lives, said Sarah Saccone, 30, the personable program director of the Lamb of God Maternity Home in this homey city in northern San Diego County.
“I’m shocked” about how well things work out, Saccone said during a December 12 interview at the home with The Wanderer.
It’s the county’s only maternity home and welcomes moms of any age, including minors, Saccone said. The average age is about 22, but a 35-year-old was to move in soon.
The Lamb of God home was established in March 2013 by the Agnus Dei Foundation (agnusdei
foundation.org), a non-profit founded by successful businesswoman Grace Dulaney, who herself once had an unexpected pregnancy followed by adoption.
Dulaney was a speaker last January at the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, telling tens of thousands of marchers that she had been going through a divorce when she became pregnant, which eventually led her into adoption advocacy.
“I am not proud of how I got myself into the situation, but I am proud of what I did with it,” she said. “. . . God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad for our greatest calling.”
The November newsletter of the Agnus Dei Foundation said the Lamb of God home is “the only home in the United States with a 100 percent track record of success in specifically providing housing and support for young women who have chosen adoption as the solution to their unplanned pregnancy.”
As of mid-December, Saccone said, the beautiful 5,500-square-foot Escondido home already had 15 births, with three more on the way.
Some of the moms even despise God when they arrive, Saccone said, because of the suffering they’ve endured, but their spiritual life changes here.
“Most of them have had some of the most horrific stories I’ve heard,” she said, adding later in the interview that “We want to enrich every single aspect of their lives” because the moms’ stay here “is just a blink in time” in their lives.
They can stay at the home beginning at any time in their pregnancy, up until two months after giving birth, without paying for anything, not even adoption fees, she said.
There’s also a healing program for women who’ve had abortions.
The spacious home in a comfortable neighborhood has four large bedrooms plus a downstairs attached apartment for a houseparent couple. Racks of maternity clothes the moms can choose from are in the garage. Out back there’s a swimming pool with a slide, a garden and a chicken coop. “We’re eating the vegetables of our labor,” Saccone said.
One mom had never lived in a home in her life, but only a trailer park, Saccone said, illustrating why some of them exclaim “How beautiful” at the impressively appointed home.
The Lamb of God home is entirely supported by private donors, she said.
When a new mom arrives with a negative attitude about God, “I explain to her that every blessing we have in this home is due to the generosity of Christians. . . . It’s not a hard transition [before her attitude changes] . . . ‘I never knew there were people out there who really cared for me’,” Saccone said the mom concludes.
“We’re strictly the birth-mom advocate, and they’ve never had an advocate in their life,” she said. “. . . Always alone, always struggling. They don’t trust anybody coming in.”
Volunteers come by the home every week, she said, to provide help with everything from building a resume to cooking to developing life skills to just watching a movie on the couch.
Bible study and prayer before meals are regular features at the home, and Sunday church attendance is required. “Escondido is wicked hot in the summer, so we’ve done our Bible studies in the pool” sometimes, she said.
In the room where the moms meet the adoptive parents they’ve selected, a large sign on the wall says, “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
While living at the home, the moms are required to attend school, have a job, or do volunteer work, she said. If the mom earns money, she is asked to save it for her expenses after leaving here, like an apartment.
The moms bring a variety of experiences with them, Saccone said. One might be an excellent cook, while another might mistakenly think the way to warm a can of soup is to put the can perilously into the microwave oven.
Proponents of abortion say it eliminates “unwanted children,” but there are plenty of couples who want a child if they only have a chance to find one.
The home’s adoption facilitator “has a constant flow” of applicant couples, Saccone said.
An attorney and the facilitator bring profiles of prospective parents for the moms to choose from after Saccone has narrowed the possibilities, so there won’t be hundreds of files to sort through each time.
“I’ll sit down with the girls first and say, ‘Give me your non-negotiables’. . . . They want what they can’t offer the child,” she said. Do they want to choose a family that has another child, a family that travels, or has a certain religion?
“The girls pretty easily pick their couple” when going through the profiles, she said.
A mom develops a relationship with her chosen couple before the birth, and, because this is open adoption, “they continue to have a really strong relationship” after placement of the baby, Saccone said.
“The huge big-picture dream is to have a home in every city or every state” like this, she said.
The Lamb of God home expected to serve four moms in its first 12 months, she said, but the number turned out to be 10.
As for the possibility of the home being taken advantage of, Saccone doesn’t think it’s likely that she’d be fooled as program director. “I’m street-savvy myself. They’re not getting anything by me,” due to her other experiences including work with the homeless, a degree in sociology, and membership on the boards of two mental-health non-profits.
Saccone has been involved in defending babies’ lives for almost her own whole life, and she doesn’t seem a bit tired of the effort as she speaks with The Wanderer in December.
“I was literally seven years old, getting in debates about abortion,” she said.

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