One day, my sister and I found my mom, phone in hand, with a smile across her face.
“I just got off the phone with Barker,”
I stared at her because this meant very little to 11-year-old me.
“The Barker Foundation! We’re going to be a Cradle Care family!”
That’s how it all began. After that, she explained to me and my three siblings that we would be the transitional family for a baby between the time he or she was born and then adopted or returned to their birth mother. At the time, this seemed like any of my mom’s other ideas: slightly outlandish and definitely not directly relevant to me. Little did I know that this would change my life in the best way possible.
I can remember my mom explaining to me that they weren’t just guests in our family, but members of our family during their time with us. This didn’t entirely compute with me, because I couldn’t understand that it would really make a difference to them...
For the next few months, we worked with The Barker Foundation to become approved as a Cradle Care family. Throughout the home studies, I learned little by little just how big of a deal this was. A baby, a real, tiny human, was going to join our crazy clan of 6. I was no stranger to babies; my mom had my little sister and brother when I was 3 and 5, respectively. Still, it felt odd to me at first to think that we would have another member of the family for a few weeks. I can remember my mom explaining to me that they weren’t just guests in our family, but members of our family during their time with us. This didn’t entirely compute with me, because I couldn’t understand that it would really make a difference to them; how would they even know that they spent the first few days of their lives with us? My friends seemed to understand this even less than me at the time. After explaining it to people, I got asked plenty of times if my family was adopting. I had the whole spiel rehearsed and ready: “We are going to be the family for a baby who is getting adopted because in the state of VA birth mothers have the right to change their mind, so we just have them between their birth and either return or adoption.” I said it with the flattest cadence. It was almost as rehearsed as my answer to whether or not I would be sad to see them go at the end: “No because it will always be a happy ending - they return to their birth parents or they get welcomed into a home that has been waiting for them!” I said it at least one hundred times. And although I knew it all to be true, I wasn’t speaking from experience yet, so I knew deep down that I was trying to sell it all to myself as much as to those who asked me about it.
The First One
I remember coming home from school in fourth grade to find my mom holding a little baby girl. I forgot that babies are ever that small. Immediately, my mom placed her in my arms. I was definitely nervous, but I felt reassured by my mom’s confidence in me. I invited my best friend over to see her, and we played with her for hours. Every now and then, I would look up at my mom, expecting her to be close by to correct me. But, every time I looked up, she just was watching me patiently, happily. When she left our home to her forever home, I finally understood firsthand all that I told other people. It really was a happy ending to see her go to her family. Of course, I was sad to say goodbye, but I knew how much it meant to her family and one day would mean to her to be part of her story.
In most of my milestones growing up, I can remember having a baby in the family. I have pictures with babies before school dances, at my high school graduation, and over countless holidays. They are just as much a part of my story as I am of theirs, which is something I am forever grateful for.
Being part of a Cradle Care family taught me so much. It taught me that everyone has a story, that everyone has a future, and that everyone deserves to be loved in each stage of life. I feel connected to the adoption world, and I feel I am more understanding of the process and those involved than perhaps someone without these experiences. Beyond the lesson of unconditional love and understanding for birth mothers, babies, and adoptive families, these experiences shaped my own future. I now study nursing at The University of Virginia, with the goal of one day becoming a midwife, working with mothers and babies. I am a skilled newborn care provider, which has been put to use with my current job at a company called Let Mommy Sleep, which provides overnight care for newborns. In my everyday life, my experiences as a Cradle Care Sister are called upon in some way or another and definitely are presented in my passions and career goals. I suppose I’ll never know if I would have had these goals and passions without The Barker Foundation, but one thing is for sure: my life changed for the better the day my mom placed that very first baby in my arms.
Morgan Simpson is a resident of Fairfax, VA and has been part of a Cradle Care Family for more than 30 babies over 10 years.