Originally posted in the Every Woman Southeast blog, November 2017.
In Part II of the Lessons Learned Series: Defining Support, I shared a snapshot of a collection of conversations from Young Families Connect participants and recent conversations with willing participants (signed consent) who shared how they would like to be supported as new moms by their medical providers. I wrapped up the last blog by briefly talking about the positive impact of the patient-provider relationship.
Anthropologists have long studied diverse relationships, particularly voluntary kinship, otherwise referenced as fictive kinship amongst scholars. According to Braithwaite, et al (2010), voluntary ties have been ported as early as the first century and documented in many cultures. Voluntary kinship is “representative of those who see the family as socially constructed, creates the opportunity to include non-legal kin as family’ (Braithwaite, 2010). Voluntary kinship has been studied amongst African-Americans, LGBTQ, new immigrants, working-class families, and persons who are chronically homeless or “street living” (2010). The practice of voluntary kinship has been an integral component to community survival in an otherwise isolated place, thus cultivating a sense of belonging, emotional closeness, protection, security and social support (2010).
Both sets of storytellers are effectually sharing their desire for a relationship with their provider that transcends the business/clinical structure. The success of case management storytellers in the Young Families Connect program is arguably attributed to the relationships nurtured by their case managers (See Jasmine V.’s story). These voluntary kinships are nurtured by members of the community who are professionals trained to facilitate these relationships. They are committing their time as outlined by their project deliverables, but they also infuse authentic passion for the program they are delivering and participants with whom they engage.