Check Us Out in Adoption Today Magazine!

Earlier this year, the Family to Family Support Network was featured in Adoption Today magazine. We’re reprinting here with permission. Most people would say that when they became parents their lives were forever changed. For Rebecca Vahle, adopting her children not only changed her life, but gave her a new mission. Surprisingly, it wasn’t just her children who gave her that mission, but their birth parents as well. When Vahle began to learn about the negative experiences of her children’s birth parents while in the hospital pre- and post-delivery, the longtime educator knew she needed to do something to change the way expectant parents were being treated by hospital staff. For more than 10 years, Vahle was the adoption liaison for Colorado’s Parker Adventist Hospital’s Family to Family Support program. She spent years educating staff, offering classes to pre-adoptive parents and supporting birth parents through a most difficult decision. The program was designed to train hospital staff on adoption-competent care as well. But ultimately, she decided it wasn’t enough. She has heard enough horror stories about nurses either begging birth mothers to parent their child, or pressuring them to go through with their adoption, or hospital staff who over supported the potential adoptive family, ignoring the birth mother or vice versa due to a lack of education. When offered, Vahle said she has found nurses and other hospital staff enthusiastic about receiving training, to help them better serve their patients in these unique circumstances. For Vahle, it became clear there was not established “best practice” in hospitals for caring for these unique cases. Vahle said she needed to educate...

I am that Baby by Sherrie Eldridge

  I Am That Baby By: Sherrie Eldridge This was the first adoption I have ever witnessed. That is, except for my own, and none of that comes to memory! Four years ago, I met Rebecca Swan Vahle, Adoption Liaison for Denver’s Parker Adventist Hospital BirthPlace.  She somehow had discovered my children’s book and wanted to meet face-to-face. “Meet me at the hospital,” Rebecca said. “Why would she want to meet at a hospital?” I wondered.  “All I could think of was the nauseating smell of hospital cafeterias!” However, as Rebecca ushered me into the OB-GYN unit, it felt like home. Warm green walls were lined with calligraphies and baby photos. Nurses were smiling and confident. Rebecca had already incorporated my children’s book Forever Fingerprints….An Amazing Discovery for Adopted Children, into the adoption placements for the potential adoptive families and parents who desired it.  The entire reason I wrote Forever Fingerprints was to help the adopted child feel a sense of connection to her birth mother. Many say there is no way. Either birth mothers are in too much pain to do a fingerprint at the hospital or they are lost in time, nations away. I believe that God gave adoptees a way to feel that sense of connection to our birth mothers and that is through the story of Forever Fingerprints. At the end of readings to children at libraries and places of worship, I ask the children to turn their hands palms up and look at their fingertips. Then, I say, “No one in the whole world has a fingerprint like yours—not all people in the past...

Family to Family Support Network in Every Community… “What if?”

What if the Family to Family Support Network was able to train nurse and doctors across the country in regards to the care for patients and families pursuing adoption?  What if the Family to Family Adoption Support Program was available in all major hospitals in the nation?  What if there was an Adoption Liaison on each Delivery Unit to ensure that patients were taken care of with respect and served well by adoption professionals?    What if an Adoption Liaison acted as a choice counselor to support educating women about their options, should they choose to carry a pregnancy to term?  What if there was a connection between community resources and the hospital to undergird the choice counseling process for women?  What if families could receive counseling and resources to support their children, both those by birth and those through adoption? What if the Family to Family Adoption Support Program could also train healthcare professionals in the care surrounding a surrogacy arrangement? What if there was a mentoring system through which mothers could receive the added support and direction needed to navigate resources available for those that choose to parent? What if the same mentoring system could be utilized by youth aging out of foster care to ensure they could navigate the resources available in their community? What if couples facing infertility could start the adoption process by receiving counseling prior to adopting, as well as receiving education on ethical, best practice when it comes to adoption and openness? What if adoptive families had a place to receive post-adoption support without judgement? What if birth families had a place...

Adoption: Hurtful Words Said To Us In A Time Of Grief Can Sear The Heart

Many hospitals are well equipped to handle intense grief – ranging from the earliest neonatal losses to the death of an elderly person who has lived a long and full life. But what about the ambiguous loss that occurs for mothers who place their living babies in the arms of another? It’s time for hospitals to apply what they know about grieving and healing to situations that may (or may not) result in an adoption placement. As the Adoption Liaison for the past eight years at Parker Adventist Hospital near Denver, Colorado, I have spent sacred time with many women (and some men) as they have considered adoption.  I’ve sat at their bedsides and cried with them. I’ve watched them memorize every feature of their baby’s face. I’ve heard them whisper lovingly how they couldn’t wait to meet her and that they are so glad she is here. I have made sure the voices of birthparents were heard when some change their mind about placement.  Since our program is not funded by adoption agencies, we are able to be guardians of the process rather than the outcome of adoption situations, affording me the privilege of witnessing such intimate and pivotal experiences.  When the process unfolds well, guided by the patient and supported by hospital staff, all parties are best served in the long run – the mother, her family, the hopeful adoptive parents, and most of all, the baby at the center. When I created the hospital-based Family to Family Adoption Support Program in 2006, I wanted to ensure that nurses and doctors were trained in the complexity of adoption and to help them meet...

Adoption Advocate #52: National Council for Adoption

Imagine a teenager or a young woman in her hospital room, staring at her new baby. She has never seen or felt anything like this before. Despite the enormous emotional difficulty, this particular young woman chose adoption for her child. Today she will sign papers and place her child with his new adoptive family. She believes that this is the best decision for her and her child. Yet she may be thinking: “I didn’t expect to feel so connected to this baby.” “Do other birthparents feel this way?” “Am I doing the right thing?”