Valuing The Relationship of Adoption


I have been working with a family now almost continuously for over six years. They first came to Catholic Charities at the end of 2010 hoping to become parents through adoption. Earlier that year, the couple became married. They always knew they wanted children, but because of medical issues the wife was informed by her physician that becoming pregnant and carrying a child would not be an option for her. After careful consideration of options, the couple decided they would become parents through adoption, specifically domestic adoption. Fast forward two years and the couple happily became matched with a birth mother and soon after took placement of a beautiful little girl. The family was able to meet their daughter’s birth parents and birth sister, who chose them and continue contact with their daughter’s birth parents today.

Although we know as adoption professionals that openness is what is best for all members of the adoption triad (adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents), it can sometimes be difficult for adoptive parents to come to terms with and accept. Some look at it as “shared” parenting, and some view the birth parents as a threat (will my child love his/her birth parents more than he/she loves me, etc.). This family though has remained positive in not only embracing their relationship with their daughter’s birth parents, but truly valuing that relationship and what it means to their daughter in the long run. There have been times when they haven’t been able to reach their daughter’s birth parents or know they are struggling in some way, and it’s been difficult and sad for them. They miss that contact when it’s not there and worry for their daughter’s sake that they may lose touch with them, fearing she won’t have a relationship with her birth family as she gets older. The couple now have placement of another child through adoption and are just as adamant about continuing an open adoption relationship with his birth family. In fact, there was a period of time due to some legal issues when they had to put that relationship on hold and it broke their hearts not knowing if they would ever connect with his birth mother again. Thankfully they have been able to rekindle that relationship. Rhea Adoption Family

As Mother’s Day approaches I think about the relationships birth moms have with adoptive moms. Can you imagine the magnitude of connectedness knowing that one mom conceived and carried a baby for nine months and then unselfishly allowed another family to parent that very child for a lifetime? By choosing adoption for their children, those birth mother’s made a couple experiencing the heartbreak of infertility become parents. In the same sense, the adoptive parents are recognizing that gift and unselfishly welcome these “strangers” into their hearts. I am so glad we have adoptive parents who recognize the sacrifice and unconditional love birth parents have for their children and value that their children have so many people who love them. The more, the better, right? I hope you will join us this Mother’s Day in not only honoring the exceptional adoptive moms like the one mentioned here, but also recognize Birth Mother’s Day and how without one we wouldn’t be celebrating the other. Rhea Adoption Family 2

Rhea Newman
Adoption & Pregnancy Support Social Worker

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


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