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New help for people facing an unexpected pregnancy in the Cowichan Valley

DUNCAN, B.C. – Those facing an unexpected pregnancy will soon have a new place to turn in the Cowichan Valley. The House of Grace pregnancy centre officially opened its doors yesterday, with hopes of preparing those in that situation for the decisions that lie ahead.

“An unexpected pregnancy is a significant, life-altering event,” says House of Grace Executive Director Corina Finlay. “We at the House of Grace, seek to provide a safe place for individuals who are facing hard, life-impacting decisions. Individuals who seek out our support can be assured that they will receive compassionate care, evidence-based information and practical resources for all pregnancy outcomes.”

Finlay says the first decision with an unexpected pregnancy is whether to carry the baby to term or not, and if deciding to carry, the second decision is adoption or parenthood. She says they’ll be there to support those mothers through their decision-making process and beyond.

“We are bringing the support for the woman that finds themself in an unexpected pregnancy situation. We are there to support her choice and give her all the accurate information about the options available as she makes her decision.”

The facility is an affiliate of Pregnancy Care Canada, which has laid out a rigid framework for their operations and training of those who work there. That includes having a board of directors and being incorporated through the province, among other criteria.

“We give equal time to all choices. Pregnancy Care Canada supplies us with accurate information that we give to anyone in that situation,” says Finlay. “Then of course, because it’s her choice we’re just there to support her and mine out of her a little bit about what her values are that would line up with the choices before her.”

If she decides not to carry, she will be able to access post-abortion support services. If she decides to carry and give up her child for adoption, House of Grace helps in giving information and connecting her to BC’s adoption agencies. And if she decides to carry and parent the child, she’ll be given support through supplies and clothing until the child reaches two years of age.

“Our main focus is on those facing an unexpected pregnancy,” says Finlay. “But they don’t have to have been a client of ours from the start to still benefit from our services.”

Mothers can opt into the services at any point up to two years after an unexpected pregnancy.  Other services they provide include supplies, parenting classes, and post-abortion support. Those support sessions are led by volunteers trained by Pregnancy Care Canada.

The mission statement for Pregnancy Care Canada is as follows:

“We are a Christ-centred national organization dedicated to upholding life by equipping pregnancy care centres and local communities with resources, education, and support to compassionately serve those challenged by an unexpected pregnancy.”

As for Finlay, the organization’s lead, she has experience working in pregnancy centres in Nanaimo and Victoria. The idea came about when Finlay and a group of others at her church decided to open one between two to make things easier for mothers in the Cowichan Valley.

The centre was met with a lot of community support. The first six months of the lease for their home was donated by the engineering firm that previously occupied the suite. They also donated $12,000 worth of renovations to the suite to support the efforts of House of Grace. It’s located at 5855 York Road, where they occupy the upstairs suite.

“They were the previous tenants in that space,” says Finlay. “They were in a release situation, but knowing that we were a non-profit, that was kind of what they were looking for, to help out while they exited out of their lease. We came along and fit the bill, and they kindly did that for us.”

The furniture was arranged by an interior designer to give the space a welcoming feel.

“The support that has come for us, I can’t even begin to describe to you,” says Finlay. “The entire centre is furnished beautifully. 99% of it has been donated from the community of the Cowichan Valley.”

Throughout a tour of the facility, Finlay was clear in saying that all services, supplies, and supports are provided to the mother free of charge. The building is already filled to the brim with donations of gently-used baby clothing and other supplies.

As for the woman who may be going through an unexpected pregnancy, Finlay sends a message.

“I would want her to know that she is a person of value and that in spite of what she may feel is a mitigating circumstance, we are here as a team of people who see her, who love her, and will walk with her through this process.”

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