A volunteer cuddler? Yes, it is a real thing! And it could probably be one of the most rewarding and sweet volunteer opportunities that you could ever have.
Adoption agencies all over the U.S. are seeking volunteers to provide temporary care to newborns placed for adoption or in foster care as they await adoption. The main job of the temporary caregiver? To cuddle, love, and give attention to these newborns before they meet their forever families.
These volunteers undergo background checks, training regimens, and certification before taking care a newborn. Fox 9 reported that a newborn usually stays with these volunteer cuddlers for a few days to a few weeks. They provide the care of a parent in all senses such as taking the baby to doctors appointments, nighttime feedings, and changing diapers. Most agencies will also provide interim caregivers with all of the supplies a baby would need and will reimburse volunteers for travel.
So how can you become one of these volunteers? Well, the Spence-Chapin Adoption Agency in New York City is on the look out for volunteers and they are welcoming of singles, couples, the LGBT community, and those who are already parents (as long as you are over 25 years of age).
Adam Pertman, president of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency, told ABC News that it’s probably safe to say that every adoption agency, even your local one, needs volunteers: “Agencies are not exactly the best funded today, so volunteers are more important probably than they have ever been. All agencies over the years have certainly needed volunteers but … the need has grown. Volunteers have become more and more essential.”
Simply contact the agency to see if they need help and express your interest in being a newborn’s cuddler the first weeks of their lives.
Joan Jaeger, vice president of outreach and communications for Adoption Learning Partners, told ABC, “It’s our most popular volunteer activity because everyone loves holding newborn babies. Newborns benefit so much from the one-on-one care.”
Not only do newborns benefit but volunteers do so as well.
Susan Singer is a volunteer newborn caretaker for Spence-Chapin and has taken care of 20 infants since 2010. She said, “I have the best piece. I’m the one on adoption day, telling [the new parents] all about this wonderful little person. I’m the one that gets to talk to the birth mom and send her photos and videos and reassure her that her baby is safe. So it’s a really great piece to have in all of the stuff that goes on.”
Katie Foley, associate director of outreach for Spence-Chapin, told the Today show, “(Volunteers) shower the baby with care and help the baby make the transition to his or her biological or adoptive parents. One interim provider recently shared with me that she felt it was an honor to give a baby a strong foundation during his or her first weeks of life.”