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    Ministry saves babies, heals families of women in prison

    Maria was 26 years old and pregnant when she entered prison. Fearful of being abandoned, she decided to have an abortion. She scheduled four appointments, but God had other plans. Kathy Morrissy, a soft-spoken woman with a heart for children, made arrangements with Maria’s mother to co-parent the child with her until Maria was released from prison.

    Morrissy, a single mother of five children, ages one to twenty-one, is the founder and president of Baby Blessings, a ministry to imprisoned women and their newborns. Baby Blessings was born in October 1991 when Morrissy attended a retreat in San Diego and heard a women’s prison ministry director speak about the needs of women in prison. “When she spoke about women who are pregnant when they are arrested, about caring for their newborns, the Lord literally spoke to me and said, ‘I have a child for you.'” Seven months later, the director contacted Morrissy about caring for Maria’s child. God confirmed Morrissy’s decision when Maria told her that her baby was conceived the weekend God spoke to Morrissy at the retreat.

    According to the magazine article, “Mothers Behind Bars,” published in People Weekly on Nov. 11, “There are roughly 113,000 women in prison in the U.S. Only Nebraska and New York have programs that allow babies to stay with their mothers. Half the imprisoned mothers in the U.S. never see their children.”

    Most prisons offer little hope for incarcerated pregnant women. If family and friends do not take the child, the newborn is placed in foster care and then placed for adoption if the mother is not released in time to meet qualifications. “Abortion is the first option for incarcerated women,” Morrissy says. Baby Blessings offers them hope by providing an alternative to abortion and helping them to bond with their children.

    The goal of Baby Blessings is to save babies and heal families. “Many times when a pregnant woman goes to prison, her family will not or cannot take her child simply because they have been so devastated by her actions,” Morrissy says. “They don’t want to assume the responsibility of possibly a drug-exposed baby. A lot of times, the women have nowhere to turn. When they come to the Bible studies or go to the chaplain and state clearly that they want to change their lives and they need help, the chaplain contacts Baby Blessings.”

    The Baby Blessings Mom brings the child to visit the mother every two weeks to bond with her. The inmate finds a sympathetic woman who can help with family relationships, parenting skills, infant care, nutrition, discipline, money management, and spiritual support in finding God’s healing forgiveness. Morrissy says, “The women are hungry for the Word; they are hungry for a new way. Once they have made a commitment (to Christ), they want to know what to do and how to do it. They’re willing to do it within the bars.”

    Morrissy has worked closely with ten mothers in federal, state, and county institutions and halfway houses in San Diego and Riverside Counties. She cared for seven babies in her home; three mothers decided to give their babies up for adoption. She also helps women place their children in foster care.

    Yolanda was Morrissy’s first baby in 1992. She cared for Ben the longest – 14 months. Ben, now five years old, lives with his two sisters and mother, Lucia, who is “clean” after 18 years of heroin use.

    Aniesa, born prematurely and weighing less than four pounds, was completely healed within a few months. Morrissy currently cares for a healthy, good-natured infant named Jade, born in October. Jade’s mother, Catherine, is growing steadily in her faith and looking forward to being reunited with her daughter when she is released in March.

    According to Morrissy, Baby Blessings is a full-time ministry. She cares for only one baby at a time because she invests in the entire family – three generations. In addition to her bonding and training visits and contacts with the family, she spends time in prayer and fasting for them. Even her own children pour their hearts into the babies. Thirteen-year-old Michael says, “We help people who have a bigger need than we do.”

    Morrissy is proud of the ministry’s positive results. Babies are given a good start in life with Jesus and with love.

    “Mothers who have been reunified with the babies I have cared for have not regressed. They are not just reformed; they are born again Christians, caring for their children and serving the Lord,”Morrissy says.

    Fulfillment for Morrissy comes from seeing hope in a mother’s face when her baby comes for a visit and when a mother who has her baby again writes, sends a photo, and is living a “normal” life. Her main frustration is with people who judge these women instead of giving them hope. “People don’t realize these are women who got caught; they know they deserve punishment; it affects the next generation.”

    Jerry Kuiper, who interviewed Morrissy in November on his KPRZ radio show, “Save A Friend,” applauds the ministry. “This is a mission of mercy compared to none I’ve ever seen, despite Kathy’s own personal struggles.”

    Kerin Schroeder, supervisory chaplain for Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility and longtime friend of Morrissy, says, “Kathy is committed to the baby and making sure she keeps her word with the mother; she bonds with the family. She brings trust to the women, and their trust in her and in Jesus builds.

    Plans for 1997 include continuing to minister to imprisoned mothers by caring for their newborns, training for women who feel God is calling them to be Baby Blessing Moms, and starting prayer and correspondence programs for incarcerated women.

    As the ministry grows, so do the needs. Baby Blessings needs people who will pray for the ministry, volunteer their services (baby-sitter, Mom, secretary, pray for or correspond with imprisoned women), donate baby items, and give a onetime financial gift or become a monthly sponsor. The ministry needs a newer car, and Morrissy dreams of a large house for the ministry and a small office in Poway.

    For more information about the ministry call 486-5223 or write to Baby Blessings, P.O. Box 1132, Poway, CA 92074-1132. Former inmates are available to speak to groups about abstinence, drug deliverance, and the ministry.

    Admin Mail : [email protected]