Receiving a prenatal diagnosis can be the most heartbreaking time in a person’s life. Being told that your child has a small chance at living or won’t live at all can instill the kind of fear in parents that leads to abortion at the advice of their doctor. Unfortunately, many parents of children diagnosed with a condition before birth aren’t provided with the support or resources that would help them to hope and to love their children for the duration of those children’s lives.
Thankfully, Catholic groups across the country have become available to help these parents honor the lives of their children, no matter how brief those lives may be.
Be Not Afraid, a private Catholic non-profit, has a mission to provide these parents with practical peer-based support from parents who have been there. No one knows the pain, confusion, and fear that comes with receiving such a diagnosis like the parents who have already walked that path. In addition to connecting parents, BNA helps with the development of new services by training volunteers and providing materials to similar organizations. Parents can contact the organization themselves or family and friends can refer a parent they know.
Lily’s Gift is part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, made up of volunteers who have been trained by Be Not Afraid. These volunteers are made up of concerned parents, as well as professionals who have experience with poor prenatal diagnosis. Through Lily’s Gift, these volunteers assist parents with creating birth plans, will be birth support people, and can refer parents to community-based support. They give parents hope and help with medical decisions, and they support parents as parents deal with the initial grief of the loss of the baby they had expected.
Isaiah’s Promise, named for a verse in the book of Isaiah – “See I will not forget you, I have carved you on the palm of my hand” – was formed in 1996 in the Archdiocese of Washington, after two grieving parents shared their experiences of prenatal diagnosis and loss with each other. Realizing the value in sharing their experiences, they formed Isaiah’s Promise in order to provide parents who carry their babies to term after poor prenatal diagnosis with support, friendship, and hope.
Additional Catholic prenatal diagnosis support groups are available to assist parents and help them heal and find hope. For more information and to find a group near you, visit BeNotAfraid.net.