June 13, 2013
“For us it was never about the process because we were so well taken care of with Lund; it was about the result. It was about their lives. My boys were dealt a pretty rough hand from the start and I saw this as my chance to give them an opportunity at a really good life. People ask me why would I adopt and I just ask them, “Why wouldn’t I?” Without Lund my life would be very different, my wife’s life would be very different, my family’s life would be very different. The realities of now far exceed what might have been.”
Mike is the adoptive father of two boys, now aged 9 and 7. He and his wife adopted their sons through Lund as infants. It wasn’t a straight forward procedure but as he repeatedly says, they were all in from the start and committed to doing whatever needed to be done to bring their boys home to a forever family.
They found Lund initially through a colleague who had himself adopted through Lund. “It was frightening and exciting at the same time,” says Mike as he begins to tell the story. “We didn’t know how many questions we had until we started asking them. But Lund held our hands and steered us through.”
Mike and his wife, Susan, had already begun the process with Lund when the opportunity for a private adoption, outside of Lund, arose. They talked with Wanda Audette, Lund’s Director of Adoption, who advised them to do what felt right. They kept Lund informed about what was happening as they moved forward in this adoption and in the background Wanda counseled and supported them. While driving to pick up the baby from the hospital in North Carolina, the birth mother’s social worker called and told them that she had changed her mind. They were devastated and after first telling their families, the second call they made was to Wanda. They told her that this wouldn’t deter them, they still wanted to adopt.
A few months later, Wanda called and said that they had been selected to be the family for twins – a boy and a girl. About two hours later, Mike received a call saying that his office was being closed and that he would be without a job. Not wanting to deplete their savings and cause problems for their older children, they had to turn down that opportunity. Lund fully supported their decision. “But things happen for a reason,” says Mike, “I just needed to get back to sustainable employment and then we were ready again. In the meantime we visited Lund several times and we became more and more enamored with the organization as we learned about all the other things that it did.”
Soon another call came. There was a baby boy in Baltimore. “Wanda held our hands all the way through and again encouraged us to do what we felt was right. We jumped on it and drove down to Baltimore, not knowing what to expect,’ says Mike. “Wanda kept in communication with us and reassured us at every turn. 72 hours later, we had James.”
Mike spent some time at home with the baby and in about 7 or 8 months, they were ready to adopt again. They went through the whole process again and after another 8 months they received a call, again from Baltimore, saying that there was another baby boy waiting to join their family. They packed up James, now 17 months old, and drove down to Maryland. It was July and desperately hot. They found themselves in the middle of an extremely destitute neighborhood surrounded by boarded up tenements and trash lying in the streets. They were a long way from their home in Vermont. They met the birth mother at an agency that was very different from Lund, “It was very businesslike, very corporate. With Lund it was more familial.”
Their second adoption was more complicated. They were dealing with three different states, things got hung up and the expected 72 hour turnaround stretched to 8 days. Mike, Susan and James were cooped up in a one room efficiency waiting for their new baby, Henry, to come home to them. Mike was working, Susan was nervous to leave the hotel and James was busting out of the walls of that one room, during the hottest part of the summer. They called Wanda at least twice a day for reassurance. It was a stressful situation and all they could do was wait. After 9 days they got the call that they could go and pick up baby Henry. It was 6pm. They drove home to Vermont straight away and when they arrived, James was so happy to be home that he ran around the house for an hour and a half. Their family was there, it was a happy scene. Nobody cared that it was 4am.
“James plays sports – baseball, football, hockey. He is half a head taller than kids a year older than him. But he’s so gentle and sensitive. Henry is 50lbs soaking wet and not interested in sports at all. He couldn’t be a happier kid” says Mike smiling, as he talks about his sons. “I couldn’t love them more. I think about those little guys every minute. They know they’re adopted. It hasn’t caused any problems yet and we’ll handle it as best we can if it does. I’m in it for the long haul and I know Lund is too. When I’m 130 and my sons are wiping oatmeal off my chin, I know Lund will be there.”
“You know what? They say that there are no angels on earth but I think that there are some and that they just hide their wings well. I think that Wanda is one of those people.”
You can support Lund’s many programs, including adoption, by making a donation.
May 28, 2013
Renowned Vermont print maker, Sabra Field, recently made a generous donation of 11 prints to Lund’s 50 Joy Drive location. The prints, all of Vermont outdoor scenes at various time of day and year, make bright, colorful additions to the walls of our new building. Field’s work is simple yet evocative as she presents the fields, mountains and waterways that are so redolent of Vermont. Her view is of a land where nature and light frame our views whichever way we look.
Sabra Field donated her prints in honor of her family and in honor of Wanda Audette (Lund’s Director of Adoption).
On her website, the artist talks about her first realization, while in an art class at Middlebury College, that great art is composed of what we see but is not a replica of what we see. There is something in this lesson that can be extended to the life experience of families who use the services and programs operated by Lund who are of course, comprised of their life experiences but each of whom add up to far more and far different from those experiences alone.
Wanda also sees a connection between Field’s work and Lund, “I believe that Sabra’s work is a diamond in Vermont. Her prints have great passion and people love them and I believe that Lund is a diamond too when it comes to services for children and families.”
One of the donated prints has special meaning for Wanda and hangs in prominent place in the conference room in the Adoption department at Lund. This is the room where families might meet their child for the first time or spend time discussing the sensitive and emotive issues that arise during the adoption process. The print entitled, “Fly Away” shows a group of geese flying together in the evening sky across the lake and mountains. “This print gives the hope that every child will find a family to fly away home with, just as they deserve.”
The new Lund building at 50 Joy Drive has been made more beautiful by these prints and we are all grateful to Sabra Field for her generosity.
December 31, 2012
Produced by Cat Cutillo/Lund
“There are no unadoptable children. There are just unfound homes.” –Wanda Audette, Director of Adoption Services at Lund
Please make a donation to Lund to help us find homes for all waiting children. Don’t we all believe that every child deserves a family?
Watch Wanda’s 30 second video story.
Donate now at give.lundvt.org
December 7, 2012
Nicole Furlonge’s incredible story about searching for her birth parents after being adopted through Lund in the 1970′s has been published on the Huffington Post. Please check it out here and see Nicole’s blog www.40daysto40years.wordpress.com for more of her writing. This is a must read!
December 6, 2012
Lund Receives Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s “All Children – All Families” Seal of Recognition for its Work with LGBT Families
BURLINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, announced on Friday that Lund has become the first adoption agency in Vermont to earn the All Children—All Families seal of recognition.
The agency earned the honor by meeting the required criteria for fully inclusive policies and practices in working with the LGBT community. The Human Rights Campaign’s All Children—All Families initiative provides a comprehensive framework for agencies to establish policies and practices that welcome, support and affirm LGBT foster and adoptive parents. The seal was presented to Heather Simmons, Lund’s Associate Director of Adoption, on Friday, November 30.
“It is an honor to be recognized by an organization of such caliber as the Human Rights Campaign,” said Simmons. “For over 120 years, Lund has focused on providing the highest quality of services to children and families throughout Vermont. Inherent to this focus is the recruitment and retention of an array of foster care providers, to include qualified applicants from the LGBT community. It is our goal to help all children in need, so it is nice to be recognized as a leader in serving diverse groups.”
“We are thrilled to welcome Lund into the community of child welfare organizations that are truly committed to creating more loving families by removing barriers to qualified LGBT adoptive parents. It is wonderful that LGBT individuals and couples in Vermont have a trusted resource to turn to when pursuing adoption,” added Ellen Kahn, HRC’s Family Project Director.
Founded as a maternity home in 1890, Lund has evolved over the years to meet the changing needs of society, yet never straying from its mission of helping children thrive. Today, Lund is a comprehensive treatment center and family support agency, offering an array of integrated services in response to the needs of pregnant or parenting teens and women, adoptive families, and families with children.
The “All Children – All Families” initiative, launched in 2007, promotes policies and practices that welcome LGBT foster and adoptive parents. The program seeks to enhance LGBT cultural competence among child welfare professionals and educate LGBT people about opportunities to become foster or adoptive parents to waiting children. To date, ACAF has over 50 participating agencies across the country, and has awarded 27 seals of recognition. In 2011, HRC launched a “50 state strategy,” with the goal of securing at least one ACAF-recognized adoption agency dedicated to working with LGBT families in every state. More information about the initiative can be found at www.hrc.org/acaf.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
July 4, 2012
*A first-hand account of adoption. Names have been changed.
The event that changed my life was my adoption. Adoption has shaped me into the person I am today. As a child I had a pretty rough beginning, but little did I know my life was only going to get better. I didn’t know what was coming for me, and when it did, it changed me forever.
From what I can remember I went into foster care at the age of five years old. As such a young child I didn’t know why I was taken away from my mom and dad. I was always told that my mom and dad were having problems and that I needed to go and stay with another family. Little did I know that my mom was having serious problems. Now I was always on the move. I would go back home then I would have to leave again, then I would get taken away again. Being only five years old, all of this it was very hard for me to adjust to, the constant moving and all the emotional problems it caused. I was confused all the time. I was scared because I would be home for a week or so and all of a sudden the state would be knocking on the door with the police on their heels. Every time that happened I got really scared. Come to find out the reason that they came was because of excessive partying and drug use. The state would then take me and put in yet another home. Sometimes I would be gone months at a time. Read the rest of this entry »
February 2, 2012
Story and Photo by Cat Cutillo
For what would have been Denyse Conant’s 54th birthday, her best friend, Kim Jennings, sister, Daphne Dulude, and nieces set out to donate 54 stuffed animals to the children at Lund. They well surpassed their goal, delivering close to 150 toys.
“Denyse was like the older sister I wish I had,” said Kim Jennings, Denyse’s friend who organized the collection. “It made sense to reach out to Lund because the kind of work [Lund does] was so close to Denyse’s heart. She understood the value of strong family connections, and was passionate about children—in fact, I think she adored them more than anyone I know.” Read the rest of this entry »
January 4, 2012
BIRTH MOTHER’S STORY
When I was seventeen and a freshman in college, I became pregnant. The reaction from my parents was very difficult for me. They were totally non-supportive, completely uncaring and told me that I would have an abortion and the “problem” would be taken care of quickly. This was something that I outright refused to allow to happen to my baby. It was decided by them that I should be “sent away” before I became too obviously pregnant. I was not from Vermont but, through a connection with someone at the University of Vermont, it was decided that I would be sent to the Elizabeth Lund Home in Burlington, VT, to await the birth of my baby and to then relinquish my baby for adoption.
I was “sent away” without being able to speak with any friends who were then told that I had gone to another state to work for my uncle. I spent my time at the Lund Home not allowing my feelings, emotions and wishes to be known per strict instructions from my parents. This was a very difficult time in my life as I did feel very alone – there were no family members or friends who I could talk with throughout my entire pregnancy. The Lund Home was a very safe haven for me and I was comfortable there. I knew that my unborn baby and I were being very well cared for and that was all that was really important to me then. Given the fact that I was being forced to give up my baby, I was glad to be in the Lund Home and not anywhere near my family during that time.
November 28, 2011
Story by Cat Cutillo
Parenting was something Kevin and Kim Hamilton had always wanted. Even their chosen professions as an assistant principal and a kindergarten teacher reflected their desires to be around children. But conceiving a baby was just not possible.
“It was really tough. We see kids everyday and parents everyday who shouldn’t have kids. It would get so frustrating and we’d think what is wrong with us? Why can’t we have kids”?
After spending tons of emotions and money on infertility treatments, the Hamiltons decided to look into adoption with Lund Family Center.
“I didn’t go [into adoption] thinking that this is going to be this great big wonderful experience and the child is going to become my own. I went in there thinking we’re settling and this is what we have to do because life has given us such a kick in the butt,” says Kim.
Lund’s Adoption Director Wanda Audette says people can experience a lot of emotions when faced with infertility.
“They went through what so many people do. Some adoptive parents get that sense of anger and frustration of ‘what did they do wrong’ and ‘why can’t they have a child in that way’. The message we always give is that families are made and joined in many different ways and for whatever reasons your family is supposed to be joined through adoption. It’s not going to matter once you have your baby in your arms. Lots of times people don’t believe it until they experience it,” says Audette. Read the rest of this entry »
November 21, 2011
Story by Cat Cutillo
Jenn and Todd Belter tried to have a child for four years before turning to adoption. After spending a year with one agency that didn’t work out, they went to Lund Family Center.
“They were such a good match for us,” says Jenn Belter. “When you’re having one of those hard days, they know how to make you feel better. They’re really reassuring.”
Lund’s Adoption Director, Wanda Audette, prepares clients that adopting an infant can take 1-5 years and in most cases the birth mother will select adoptive parents.
The Belters say waiting to be selected was the hardest part. Jen soothed her mind by slowly getting the baby room together and painting a mural on the wall, trying to give herself a visual reminder that a baby would be coming. She just had to wait for the right one.
“It’s so hard to wait, especially after a really long time. It just feels like it’s too good to be true. You’re not really sure it’s going to happen,” remembers Jenn.
After a year and a half with Lund, the phone call that would change their lives finally came. They had been picked by a birth mother and were given just two days notice before they would meet their baby.
“I just started crying. I was so happy. I couldn’t believe we actually had a baby after 6.5 years,” says Jenn. Read the rest of this entry »