Twenty years ago as I was about to enter Planned Parenthood, a man approached me and asked me not to go in there. At first, I was taken aback and offended that he was in my "bubble." However, the more he talked, the more I listened. Eventually I followed him to a crisis pregnancy center not far from the Planned Parenthood clinic.
I was your typical distressed young lady facing an unplanned pregnancy. When the counselor said, "Positive," I fell apart—crying hysterically. I was not capable of comprehending everything she said to me during that counseling session, and I left confused.
Yes, I did choose to have my baby, but that journey was very, very hard. The counselor didn't give me the necessary information I needed to make my choice any easier. Just finding Medicaid's phone number was an overwhelming task for me.
Well here it is, 20 years later and the crisis pregnancy centers have come a long way—or have we? What information is your client walking away with? Right now, at the very critical time that your client hears the word positive, she needs referrals. Do not overwhelm her with 50 pages of breastfeeding information, SIDS information, or other parenting education because she is still trying to deal with the decision she is making at the very moment she leaves your center. If she leaves with information on how to get insurance, a doctor, financial assistance, daycare assistance, food, housing, baby items, and other resources she may need, the decision to carry her baby to term may be easier for her.
Every client should leave with a folder with only the information she needs to make an informed decision. Look at your positive test folder that you give to your client. (Please tell me you give a positive test folder.) Is it full of necessary information on adoption help, parenting help, and abortion risks? ("Before You Decide" is an excellent brochure for abortion information, available at www.care-net.org/bookstore.) Give her what she needs just for this moment because this moment is all she can deal with right now. Be sure to include Earn While You Learn or practical support information that your center offers. When she returns or when you follow up and she shares her decision with you, then offer more help with parenting and prenatal education if appropriate (depending on her decision).
Don't forget your negative test folder, which should have STD information, how to say no information, and STD test and treatment referrals—again a few important brochures, not too many pieces that will overwhelm her.
For the sake of privacy, your folders should not have anything written on the outside, and you should have different folder colors for the different information you offer; for instance, yellow folders for positive tests clients and green folders for negative tests clients.
Keeping it simple will make it easier for her to carefully look over it.
Rita Williams is a banquet speaker and has been the Marketing Consultant for the CPC in Reno, Nevada. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.