Loving Choice focuses on parents-to-be, Catholic faith

July 11, 2023

A new dad holds his newborn son during a ‘first-time fathers’ workshop at a hospital in Arizona. Loving Choice offers support to both fathers- and mothers-to-be as they embrace the challenges and blessings of an unplanned pregnancy. (CNS photo)

SPRING — Leaders and volunteers at Loving Choice, a Catholic organization providing women and their families withneeded assistance and support during an unplanned pregnancy, say the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the Catholic Church help guide their efforts in supporting parents through this often-challenging process.

Volunteers at Loving Choice, Located at 17835 Kuykendahl Rd., Suite 103, in Spring, share God’s love through emotional, educational, material and spiritual support to mothers, fathers, and their support systems when encountering an unexpected pregnancies.

Including fathers in the support process is crucial to a family-centered approach to care. Anne Hazzan, a client advocate and management advisor for Loving Choice, said the organization offers a special “man-cave” as a place for fathers-to-be to meet with a male advocate and ask the same or similar questions asked of the mom in a separate room.

“I always ask the mom if she would like the father-to-be to come back to her advocate room as we review community resources, medical insurance, etc. Most agree to that, but some moms prefer to remain alone for that information,” Hazzan said. “We also invite the mom to bring the father (and family members) to the ultrasound appointment and any prenatal/parenting classes that she registers for.”

Hazzan said most of the fathers-to-be have similar concerns as the mothers, including financial constraints, living arrangements, job constraints, child care and family issues. Encouraging parents to discuss these stressors openly, and providing a supportive environment in which to do so is a hallmark of the organization.

All services at Loving Choice are free, including pregnancy testing, ultrasound, prenatal and parenting classes, referrals for healthcare, counseling and community resources.

David Skouby, a lead advocate at the center, said fathers come in with their wives or girlfriends “maybe 25% to 35% of the time.”

He said when fathers come into the center, they’ve already taken the first step in involvement.

“The vast majority of the ones we see are already being supportive, whether they are a husband, long-term boyfriend, or a relatively recent boyfriend,” Skouby said.

Fathers can attend pregnancy and infant care classes with the mothers, allowing them to learn important information about their child along with moms. Parenting classes and financial literacy instruction are other topics offered for parents.

Hazzan said Loving Choice saw a major increase in mothers in need both before and after the Dobbs decision on June 24, 2022.

“We had a major increase when Texas enacted the heartbeat bill prior to the Dobbs decision,” she said. “Lots of women were coming in very early, even before they missed their period, because they were worried about timelines related to their pregnancy. The client flow has been steady since that time.” As with many pregnancy help centers, numbers of families seeking help at Loving Choice have continued to increase in the past year.

The Center, which opened its doors in the fall of 2019, was begun by parishioners of Christ the Good Shepard Catholic Church and members of surrounding parishes. Loving Choice works closely with the Archdiocese to ensure all policies, advice to parents and training provided to volunteers are entirely consistent with Catholic teaching. Julie Dumalet, Archdiocesan Pro-Life Director, has worked with Loving Choice since the Center’s inception. Dumalet noted that, from the beginning, maintaining a consistent Catholic identity while supporting the dignity of babies, mothers and their entire families has been crucial to the organization’s mission.

Loving Choice is funded by donations, both monetary and material items for baby and mom, including diapers, wipes, clothing, strollers, car seats, gift cards, etc.), and is fortunate to draw volunteers from numerous parishes in the Archdiocese. An annual fall gala, set for Oct. 7, also assists in raising funds.

Hazzan said people interested in volunteering with the organization should contact the center by email or by phone and a volunteer coordinator will respond. All training is provided. For more information or to donate, visit www.loving-choice.org