The hours leading up to childbirth can be stressful, even for the most experienced and prepared parents-to-be. Unpredictable factors, no matter how small, often derail detailed plans and create a feeling of chaos. For Maria del Carmen Venegas, it was not a minor bump in the road that changed her delivery plans; it was a larger, life-changing experience.
Maria and her husband were on their way to a scheduled cesarean section for their fifth child when they stopped at a gas station to refuel. As they pulled in, two Immigration and Customs Enforcement vehicles followed. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents ultimately took Maria’s husband into custody when he was unable to give them his identification, which he had left at home. This left Maria to drive herself to the hospital, where she went through with the scheduled delivery alone.
Giving birth without her husband present was just the beginning of a series of difficulties that Maria would face. Because of the contentious political debates over how the government should respond to refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, Maria’s story quickly spread. Before she even left the hospital, strangers all around the world had strong opinions about her situation. Some even made threats against her to the point that hospital staff snuck Maria out of a side exit when it was time for her and her son to be discharged from the hospital.
Maria found herself in an incredibly difficult situation. Suddenly, she was a de facto single mother of five children, including a newborn. In addition to the obvious financial and legal difficulties that the situation presented, Maria and her family also continued to face harassment and gossip.
Random Acts supporter Rebekah Rodriguez-Lynn volunteers with Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (IC4IJ), an organization that established a relationship with Maria after the news story about her experience was published. Rebekah wanted to help Maria with basic necessities for her children and reached out to Random Acts for help funding that support. Rebekah used her Random Acts funding to buy baby supplies off of a wishlist that IC4IJ created specifically for Maria, as well as gift cards so that Maria could purchase similar items for each of the older four kids as well.
Rebekah said that she was thankful for the opportunity not only to provide Maria with some assistance, but also to meet with her and listen to her story. Although the details of the story were disheartening at times, Rebekah said that she was encouraged by the outpouring of love and support from various individuals and organizations focused on helping Maria through this difficult time.