So much conversation about adoption centers around adoptive parents, birth parents, and the children who are adopted, but there is one group that often goes unnoticed – the families that tirelessly care for babies during the time when the biological mothers and fathers of the babies are trying to decide what is best for their child. This group of amazing individuals are Barker’s Cradle Care families, and we could not be more grateful for the selfless work that they do.
I was recently reminded of how important our Cradle Care families are when I read a New York Times article that describes the valuable effect of touch on babies that are born substance exposed. The article reports that babies born exposed to opioids require less intervention and shorter NICU stays if they are able to attach to a caregiver. As I am sure you can imagine, this is often challenging. Mothers who are among the millions affected by the opioid epidemic are fighting their own battles during their child’s hospital stay, and Adoptive parents who would like to step in, may not always have the opportunity to do so depending on the circumstances surrounding their adoption plan. A combination of these two set-backs the chances a newborn will receive the calming bonding experience the child so desperately needs could be slim to none.
Our Cradle Care mothers are a group of dedicated women who provide care and the necessities newborns need during their first weeks of life. This is not just a service they provide, but support moved by the passion they feel that every child, whether they are going to be adopted or not, deserves to be the center of someone’s world, especially throughout their time in the hospital.
I can recall times when our Cradle Care families traveled from Annapolis to PG County every day for a month to spend up to 16 hours a day cuddling a baby in the NICU. I can recall times when our Cradle Care parents have written daily journals detailing every development – from medical milestones to cute moments – to share with a child’s forever family. And time and again, I have watched these families hand over the child they love, either to their birth family or to their adoptive family, and celebrate with them. Being the voice for those who cannot yet advocate for themselves is the only “gratification” they desire.
Most adoption stories center around adoptive parents, biological fathers and mothers, and the children placed for adoption. However, a lot of what goes into providing excellent care to each of these individuals that make up the adoption circle, is achieved with our Cradle Care families partnering efforts with our Domestic Infant Program and Pregnancy Counseling. With the combination of these elements, we are confident that we are providing the support and care that each child and family needs as they journey through this stage of their life.