One Phone Call Can Change an Adoptive Family’s Life

LorrinSometimes the adoption journey can be a long process, but in other cases, one phone call can change an adoptive family’s life in a matter of days! A young couple came to Catholic Charities in 2015 after struggling for several years with infertility. After successfully completing their home study, they began the process of waiting for an infant to join their family. Shortly under a year later, a young woman faced a challenging situation of an unplanned pregnancy. She and her family sought the support of Catholic Charities shortly after she delivered her baby boy. The birth mother felt strongly that she would like the child to be placed directly with his adoptive family at the time of hospital discharge. After thoughtfully reviewing family profiles, the birth mother selected the young couple who had been awaiting a match through Catholic Charities Agency Infant program. The family was extremely surprised and thrilled to receive a call from their social worker learning that not only had they been selected by a birth mother, but the baby was due to be discharged from the hospital within a few days!

The following day they drove to the hospital to meet the birth mother, her family, and their future son. The connection the adoptive family and the birth family developed was apparent from the moment they stepped into the room. Two hours later when the meeting ended, it was clear by all of the uncanny similarities that God had drawn these two families together, united by this precious baby boy. The next day, the family again returned to the hospital, this time to bring home their baby boy. Within 48 hours, the family had gone from not even knowing of their son’s birth, to bringing him home from the hospital! The birth family and the adoptive family were able to spend a considerable amount of time together at the hospital and continue to build a strong foundation to their relationship. Today, that baby is a healthy, thriving little boy who is dearly loved by both his birth and adoptive families. Both his birth and adoptive families have kept in contact and developed a mutually loving and supportive relationship for the precious baby boy that drew them all together. The journey of courage, hope, and faith by all parties has led to a beautiful ending of uniting two families forever.

Lorrin Pekarske
Post Adoption Resource Specialist/Adoption & Pregnancy Support Social Worker

Understanding My Role as an Adoption Social Worker

DSC_0736When I think of the past year and try to focus in on one particular success story, I find that difficult. Since I am relatively new in the field, I had a naive sense of what adoption truly was. Sure, I had done my internship years ago and understood the concept of grief and loss; however, I do not think one can actually conceptualize that until you have helped a family or a birth mother navigate through it. Within a month from starting, I got a call from a local hospital where a mother had given birth and wanted to see a social worker immediately to create an adoption plan. I remember driving there so worried that I would not have the right answers, do something wrong or offend her in some way. As it turns out, my careful and thoughtful approach (because I was terrified of messing up) was exactly what this birth mother needed from me at the time. It didn’t matter that I was so new. I had empathy and was willing to listen to her story, which helped us build a successful working relationship. Her child just turned one and recently had her adoption finalized with her forever family.

I have worked with a variety of birth mothers since then and they have all been so different, but I am learning that if I am sincere and supportive, it does not matter that I have not been working in this field for years and years. I can still be just the person they may need. It is stories like these that I refer back to when I have a “rough” day. Recently I have helped a couple of families move through some difficult and painful situations. As their social worker, I have to be careful not to allow myself to get “caught” up in the grief or anxiety of the moment. We often feel fairly close to our families and we sincerely want our families to have a successful adoption. However, even if there are set backs, hold ups, and unexpected challenges, it is my job to help the family see past those. We have a saying that “everything happens for a reason.” As devastating as it is for a placement to fall through. that just means that it was not the right situation for the family. In my short time here, I have worked with families who felt hopeless after a failed match, only to be matched with their son or daughter months later that they were meant to be with. I am learning every day that my role is to empathize with my families and that yes, I can feel sad too. But if I can remember that adoption can often be difficult but worthwhile once they are matched with the child that is right for them, it makes all of the challenges and losses well worth it.

I often say that I love my job! I now have an even more realistic understanding of my role as an adoption social worker that rings even more true. It is humbling to realize that the more I know about adoption, the more I can learn. I read books and go to conferences and do webinar after webinar, but it is my experiences that I learn the most from. I appreciate each day I work because whether it is good or bad, it gives me more tools that I can use to continue my work with families and birth mothers.

Jamie Pedretti
Adoption & Pregnancy Support Social Worker

Randi Harris 1951-2016

randiIt is with deep sorrow and sadness that we share the news of the death of our co-worker, Randi Harris. Randi was our Domestic Abuse Coordinator in Prairie du Chien. She passed away suddenly Monday morning. She was very dedicated to our organization and passionate about the clients she served. Randi began working at Catholic Charities in November of 2005. It was at our last Agency All Staff Meeting that Randi was recognized for celebrating 10 years of service with Catholic Charities. Through these ten years Randi provided a listening ear, compassionate heart, and resources for those who lived with domestic abuse. She visited high schools and presented on issues surrounding domestic and date abuse. She worked with the local prison systems offering educational opportunities. She was a great asset to our organization and the Prairie du Chien surrounding communities. Randi will be greatly missed.

“May the Angels lead you into paradise; may the Martyrs come to welcome you and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem. May you have eternal rest.”

Randi’s visitation will be Thursday, April 14, 2016 from 4-7 pm at Schutte-Grau Funeral Home and Cremation Service, Postville, Iowa with a one hour visitation before services at the church on Friday.

Funeral Services will be at 11:00 am on Friday, April 15, 2016 at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Postville, Iowa with Rev. Jack Gannett as the Officiant. Her obituary can be viewed online.

We would love to hear about your favorite memories or stories about Randi. Feel free to share below in the comments box.

Randi Harris 2007 Randi Harris 2010 RandiHarris2012


Practice Makes Perfect

Roberto PartarrieuWe have all heard the saying “practice makes perfect” and that “greatness requires 90% sweat and 10% talent”. But as every athlete knows, you also need a great amount of God given talent and good luck to become one of the best.

For those of us that have practiced some sort of sport know that when we begin training, every single muscle in our body aches and we ask ourselves if it’s all worth it. Experience tells us that if we put in the time and do the work, the results from our first game are going to reflect our work. As the season progresses, it becomes easier and we don’t hurt as much. We begin to enjoy the hard work and want to be challenged to the best of our abilities.

Life is a little bit like that, but not only do we have to exercise our bodies, we need to work on our intellect and our soul. In life, real success and happiness is achieved by working on our virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. Unlike sports, the season is not 4 or 8 months long, but the game of life lasts a lifetime and virtues need to be exercised permanently (“if you don’t use it you lose it”). The good news is that as we become better athletes of life and virtues become habits, they become part of who we are; they are engraved in our decision making process and we act on them naturally.

Now, if we really want to be happy and successful, we can ask for that talent and extra 10% that makes the difference. These are the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. They are freely given and all we have to do is ask. Then our job is to practice these virtues.

As in any sport, if we love what we do, we accept the pain, the hard work and do it with a smile! We enjoy the moment and we are happy, even if it only lasts for a brief moment. In the game of life, we also feel the pain, have to work hard and many times feel disappointed by our performance. The difference is the price. In sports we get a trophy. By living a virtuous life we win eternal love and we are coached and helped by the best team; The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

Roberto Partarrieu
Executive Director

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