November 25, 2015

Parent Child Centers are the Answer

Posted in Events, Parent Child Centers, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:25 am by Lund

“Being a parent is a lot of work.  At least there’s something out there for people,” said one parent at last week’s educational event for legislators about Parent Child Centers and the work that they do in the community.  Parents and staff members from each of Chittenden County’s three parent child centers gathered together at the VNA Family Room in downtown Burlington where legislators from Chittenden County were invited to join them and hear first hand the importance of these essential community resources.

Parent Child Centers are a network of non-profit organizations serving all of Vermont.  There are 15 in total and the focus of each is to provide support and education to families with young children.  The goal is to help all Vermont families get off to a healthy start, promote well being and build on family strengths.  This support and education helps to prevent problems such as school failure, poor health, welfare dependency, family violence and abuse.   A reduction in these problems helps to strengthen every community and to ultimately save the state money further on in the life of the child.  Families who are at risk for substance abuse, mental health conditions, trauma, domestic violence and poverty face significant barriers to accessing the help that they need.  Parent Child Centers offer help in ways that take these barriers into account and form trusting relationships with vulnerable families while engaging them in services.

Parents, staff members, legislators and members of the community had lively discussion about the crucial role of Parent Child Centers in the community.

Parents, staff members, legislators and members of the community had lively discussion about the crucial role of Parent Child Centers in the community.

The need for Parent Child Centers grows every year as the problems of opiate abuse, multi generational poverty and concerns for child welfare further permeate the community.  Yet state funding has remained level since 1995.  The goal of this meeting was to help legislators to understand the work of the Parent Child Centers to gain their support for the Parent Child Center Network’s legislative platform for the upcoming session which is to request additional funding – $135,000 for each center in Vermont for a total appropriation amount of $2,025,000.

Imagine that in one year that each Parent Child Center prevents one birth to a teenage mom, one woman entering the Correctional Facility, one child being placed in foster care, and one single mother receiving public assistance.  This would save the state $2,131,041 over that year which is less than the funds being asked for in the legislative session.  Of course each Parent Child Center does this critical prevention work with multiple families each year.

“I am so thankful we found Milton Community Center,” said one Mom at the meeting while her son played in the room nearby. “My son was born prematurely and has developmental delays.  I have learning difficulties too.  Without MCC he would never have come as far as he has.  Our children are the future of our world, how we raise them and the support team that we have is so important.  Milton Community Center is my second home.  I will never forget what they have done.”

Parent Child Centers are key in breaking multi-generational cycles of poverty, addiction and abuse because they work with the children and their caregivers at the same time.  “I know I’m going to be the total opposite of what I knew growing up,” said another Mom who had used multiple treatment and family support services here at Lund. “It’s hard to trust people if you grow up a certain way but Lund is like my second family and they are there for me when I need help.” The most important investment in the community needs to happen early and in a way that best supports the safe and healthy development of children.    As Vermont moves forward in developing innovative health care delivery systems, the Parent Child Centers must remain an integral home base for families.

One mom who came to participate in the meeting shared her struggles with post natal depression after the birth of her daughter and how she searched and searched to find something or someone who could help her in the way that she needed and in so doing asked the question that was at the forefront of everyone’s mind.  “I needed someone to tell me that I was doing a good job.  I needed someone to watch and learn from.  I found that here at the Parent Child Center.  But how are they going to keep doing this without the money?”

 

June 25, 2015

‘Looking Toward Tomorrow’ – Kit Stone Award Winner 2015

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Awards, Events, New Horizons Educational Program, Residential, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, Workforce Development Program tagged , , , , , , , at 12:03 pm by Lund

Smiles and surprises all around as the winner of this year’s Kit Stone Award was announced.  The recipient was completely surprised and had even been lovingly misled by a staff member in order to keep this wonderful achievement a secret. “Deb told me all week it was someone else,” said Chelsea Mitchell, 2015 honoree after she had recovered from hearing her name read out. “Oh my God, I was thinking, no way, no way, are you guys serious? I can’t believe this is happening. I was convinced it was someone else and I was getting ready to clap for her. I heard my name and was like ‘WHAT???’ Everyone had been telling me what a big deal it was and how its hard to get it. It’s amazing.  I think there’s a lot of people that do what I do so I was totally surprised and psyched.”

The Kit Stone Award is named after a former long time board member and supporter of Lund.  It is presented each year to a woman who meets the following criteria:

  • The young woman will recognize the value in using what you’ve been given to blossom in life.
  • The young woman will take the opportunities presented to her and make them work for herself, her family, her peers and her community.
  • The young woman will demonstrate a commitment to her education and/or vocational training.
  • The young woman will demonstrate compassion, kindness and goodwill for others.

Chelsea was nominated by a record 5 different staff members – Greeta Soderholm, Dinah Larsen, Deb Mayville, Jenny Labelle, and Amanda Johnson.

Chelsea currently lives at Lund’s transitional housing facility, Independence Place, with her almost 3 year old daughter.  She works in the front office with Deb, Jenny and Amanda at Lund’s Glen Road building as part of the Workforce Development program.  “I answer phones, greet people, do a lot of paperwork, copying, faxing, scanning, mail, spreadsheets.  I help the girls out with stuff and take donations in.  Wherever they need me to be, I’m there. I love it. I love helping people. I greet people and they tell me I always have a smile on my face.”

Before moving to Independence Place, Chelsea lived at Lund’s Residential treatment program for substance abuse and mental health disorders.  “I just banged the program right out. They were surprised I had such a short stay but it was good for me. My daughter came to live with me a month after I got there and I was so happy.”

Chelsea with members of the New Horizons staff and Honoring Ceremony speaker, Ryan Esbjerg.

Chelsea with members of the New Horizons staff and Honoring Ceremony speaker, Ryan Esbjerg.

In her nomination she was praised for her hard work, determination and constant commitment to doing the best thing for her daughter.  “She talks about her future, going back to school, taking the steps she needs to make, knowing things take time,” said Deb in her nomination. “What I see now in Chelsea is a woman who is determined to make the most out of her life for her daughter and herself. She’s strong, determined and presents a can do attitude. Even when she has a day when life is not easy she maintains a positive attitude, looking toward tomorrow and not concentrating on the negatives.”

“Chelsea came to Lund with a  huge uphill battle and had not been parenting her daughter for a great deal of time,” said Greeta who was Chelsea’s clinician and helped her take the important steps she needed to take before being able to come to Lund.   “Her addiction had taken a full grip on her and she had lost everything because of it. She worked so hard to do what she needed to do to get into treatment, and there were a great number of barriers. Chelsea took advantage of all Lund offered and demonstrated wonderful parenting capacities once the barriers were removed. She is getting back out in the workforce while also balancing all the busy aspects of being a single parent. She is out in the world, independent, and the future looks so much more bright for her as a result of all her hard work and dedication.”

Chelsea plans to pursue Personal Care Assistant Training through the VNA this summer and hopefully then move into a job in that field. “I’ll go to peoples’ homes, cook them dinner, do whatever they need me to do. I think I’ll be good at that. If I like it I’ll go from there and proceed to be a nurse. Right now I want to make sure I like it. It’s hard work but I’m a hard worker so I’m pretty excited,”  she said.  Though so doing would mean that she would have to leave her work placement at Lund.  “I’m debating on that at the moment.  I don’t want to go,” she admits.  “But when I leave Independence Place, I can come and sub as a residential counselor there or at Glen. I would love to work here someday. This is my ideal job.  I can start as a sub and go from there. I am 100% going to do that, no doubt in my mind. I wish I could do it now.”

Dinah’s tribute perhaps describes most succinctly the key to Chelsea’s success, “She took the opportunity given to her to take a deep breath and try to create a life that could be different and better for herself and her family.  She woke up every day with a smile on her face and a strong focus in her head to forge ahead when she easily could have given up.  She is kind, thoughtful, and a good friend to other people as well as a loving and nurturing mother to her daughter.”

Congratulations Chelsea on being the 2015 Kit Stone Award Winner.

May 7, 2015

Taking Time to Appreciate Teachers at Lund

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Employees, Events, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP), New Horizons Educational Program tagged , , , , , at 10:40 am by Lund

Lund staff members took time this week to appreciate amazing, committed and inspiring work of the teachers in our educational programs as part of Teacher Appreciation Week.  We have 3 teachers at New Horizons Education Program (NHEP) and fourteen full time and 2 part time teachers at our Early Childhood Education Program (LECP).  All of these staff members work hard every day to educate, guide, and encourage their students whether they are 2 or 32!

New Horizons Education Program is an alternative high school placement program licensed by the State of Vermont for up to 35 pregnant or parenting students from age 12 onwards.  Older students meet with Lund staff to assess whether our program can best meet their educational needs.  Students come from as many as 15 different school districts per year.  NHEP staff establishes curriculum agreements with each sending school to ensure that students receive academic credit and have the opportunity to walk with their classmates at graduation ceremonies.  Licensed teachers provide instruction in the four core subject areas, as well as art, physical education, life and parenting skills.  Babies aged up to six months can come to class with their moms.   Students at NHEP share common experiences and form a close community where they can give each other support through the challenges of being a young mom.  Last year NHEP began offering the Community College of Vermont’s Introduction to College Studies Class onsite at Lund to allow students to explore further education options after high school.

The teachers in this program work with students on all aspects of their lives.  A recent lunchtime at NHEP saw one teacher helping a student to write e-mails in response to apartment listings she had seen online, another teacher helping a student with her math homework and a group of students enjoying the presence of one of their sons who was a special guest at school that day because his daycare was closed.    Students will frequently state that if it wasn’t for New Horizons they would not be in school and would have no chance of graduation.

Thank you New Horizons teachers for all your hard work.

Ann Klinkenberg, Mary Farnsworth and Kathy Rossman - outstanding NHEP teachers

Ann Klinkenberg, Mary Farnsworth and Kathy Rossman – outstanding NHEP teachers

Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program serves 50 children from birth to aged 5 with consistent, nurturing and high quality care and education allowing their parents to engage in education, employment or treatment programs. For many of the children this program represents the only stability in lives filled with transition and uncertainty. The teachers work hard to ensure that the program is a resource for the whole family by providing connections to necessary resources both within Lund and in the community to ensure that they have what they need to be successful. Examples of these resources include assistance finding housing or food, parenting education, financial education and providing needed clothing or shoes for their children. Parenting is a partnership between the teachers and the families. The program provides the essentials of safety, food and attention and, equally as important, makes the most of this time of crucial brain formation with activities that optimize and prioritize healthy development. The play based program values curiosity, early exposure to art and music and outdoor play. Lund partners HowardCenter to provide embedded counseling and developmental services in the preschool classroom.  LECP is a 5 STAR program, the highest rating in the state’s STep Ahead Recognition System.

Every day LECP teachers sing, do art projects, play outside, work through problems together, encourage children to try new things and teach the importance of being good friends, helpful community members and joyful participants in the world. They are patient, loving and creative.  Every day they value and cherish every child.

Thank you LECP teachers for all that you do.

Some of our truly dedicated early childhood educators.  (The others were too busy to have their photos taken!)

Some of our truly dedicated early childhood educators.

April 23, 2015

Lund’s 125 years of helping families in Vermont celebrated at the Statehouse

Posted in Events tagged , , , , , at 10:58 am by Lund

Click the link below to read about Lund’s recent trip to the Statehouse to celebrate 125 years of helping children and families thrive. (We’re trying out a new type of blog)

https://medium.com/@LundVT/celebrating-125-years-of-helping-children-and-families-to-thrive-6ea6cae81676

125logo

March 24, 2014

Employee of the Quarter – Cait Keeler

Posted in Awards, Employees, Family Education, Residential tagged , , , , at 2:25 pm by Lund

Cait with Kim Coe, Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services

Cait with Kim Coe, Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” said Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services at Lund, Kim Coe, as she presented the Employee of the Quarter Award to Cait Keeler. Cait has worked as a family educator at Lund for the past ten years.

Cait truly stepped up to the challenges of recent staffing shortages and training of new employees. She has also been instrumental in supporting her colleagues in the Early Education program with billing, essential paperwork and clinical reviews. Cait also willingly and skillfully participated in the prep work for the family education and supervised visitation components of ETO (Efforts to Outcomes – Lund’s new data recording system).

Cait has demonstrated strong leadership skills in her ability to assess the needs for Early Education staff to be successful, to design a training and communication process, and most importantly, to implement it successfully. Cait’s collaboration with the Early Education staff and promotion of good communication has supported both families and staff in Lund’s residential treatment program.

On receiving the award, Cait is quick to share the recognition with other members of her team, “I feel honored that my team feels so positive about the work we do together each day.” She also gives credit to the families she works with for being her motivation, “They are the reason why I continue in this work.”

Described as an excellent team member who handles challenging situations with grace and tact, Cait is a valuable asset to Lund and always represents families’ needs and concerns with clarity and compassion . She offers valuable knowledge and skills to all who work with her.

Cait dedication and commitment to Lund’s work, the clients, and helping the family education team and program be successful is inspiring. Thank you, Cait, for your amazing work. You truly exemplify Employee of the Quarter!

July 18, 2013

Creating a Positive Birth Experience – Doula Training at Lund

Posted in Employees, Kids-A-Part, Residential tagged , , , , , , at 6:23 pm by Lund

“The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth’ – http://www.dona.org/mothers ; retrieved July 17th 2013

Jessilyn Dolan, Nurse Coordinator at Lund’s Glen Road Residential Treatment Facility has been a doula for 12 years and is passionate about the helping women to have a positive birth experience.  “I strongly feel that birth is one of the most transformative times in a woman’s life.  I believe birth can either be empowering and wondrous or fearful and traumatizing depending on the support that they get.”

Having a doula present during birth helps in many ways.  Current statistical research has proven that doula labor support results in:

  • 50% fewer Cesarean Sections
  • 25% shorter labors
  • 40% less use of pitocin
  • 30% less use of narcotics
  • 30% less use of forceps
  • 60% fewer requests for epidurals
  • Improved breastfeeding and bonding
  • Increased satisfaction with the birth process

Jessilyn recently ran a workshop for Lund employees to learn how to be a positive and helpful influence to their clients during labor.  She feels that the presence of a doula is particularly important for women who come to Lund, and especially for those who give birth while incarcerated.  “There is obviously a lack of support in these woman’s lives, a history of trauma and psychosocial dilemma, and also sometimes a stigma around their incarceration.”

Jo Berger of Kids-A-Part, a program to help incarcerated women stay connected to their children during their time in prison, attended the workshop and was excited to learn what an important role she could play during labor. “It is an unfortunate reality that there are pregnant women in prison who deliver their babies during their incarceration.  My role with the Kids-A-Part program gives me the opportunity to be present in the hospital room to support incarcerated women during their labor and delivery. At the training I learned all about the birthing experience, labor positions, and support techniques, and am better prepared to help women create as positive an experience as possible.”

Sabrina Sydnor, a residential counselor at Lund, also attended the training and put what she learned into practice very soon afterwards.  “I was just the lead doula at my first birth on the 4th of July.  Supervised for a short time by Jessilyn, I helped a mama have a successful vaginal birth after 25 hrs of labor! This client who had previously had a C-Section was very excited to have a more positive birth experience.”

Image courtesy of papaija2008/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of papaija2008/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sabrina could immediately see the benefits that the training had for this particular client and how it provided another opportunity for her to carry out Lund’s mission to help women and children thrive.  “It has made me feel like I am an integral part in these women creating a new life for themselves and baby. Many of these women, including this client, were under the influence during previous pregnancies and births. They did not have the supports they needed at the hospital and often felt powerless in their pregnancy and birthing process.  Our women experience so much complex trauma, it is imperative that we help them end the culture of not receiving the education and supports they need around successful parenting. As an employee, we work so hard to be constant and unbiased support for these women and what better way to perpetuate that trust than to support them through labor and be their right hand woman in the process?”

Sabrina really sees Lund employees receiving doula training as a very important step for the organization. “I am enthusiastic about the possibilities that this training and other initiatives have to open up Lund as not somewhere where people come to ‘have their babies when they have nowhere else to go’ but rather, where mothers come to change their history, to have healthy children, to become the mothers they so desperately want to be from the first moments of their child’s life. “

June 24, 2013

Jadranka Gubic named Early Childhood Educator of the Year

Posted in Awards, Employees, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:35 pm by Lund

“The biggest reward is seeing a baby’s face light up,” said Jadranka Gubic of Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program at the Building Bright Futures of Chittenden County award ceremony where she was celebrated as Center Based Early Childhood Educator of the Year.  To an audience of colleagues, friends, and of course some of her young charges, Jadranka smiled and was visibly moved as Judy Harvey, Childcare Coordinator at Lund, spoke to her skill, patience and true dedication as a care giver to young children.

Jadranka with one of her young friends at LECP

“Sometimes when I walk in the infant room and see her sitting on the floor, quite literally covered with children – some crying, some laughing, some eating – my hair stands on end. In the middle of it all, no matter what, Jadranka will say “Isn’t she wonderful?” or “Look how he’s developing”. And I think to myself, what greater security can a caregiver provide a parent who leaves their child during the day, and what greater gift can someone give a child as they develop attachments and a sense of worthiness?” Said Judy.

Both Judy and Jadranka were holding back tears as she continued, “Every baby and parent she works with knows that she truly loves and respects everyone around her. Every baby and every parent also feels they are her “favorite”, her most beloved charge.  I know it time to recognize this outstanding woman for her invaluable contributions to colleagues, children and families in Chittenden County. A woman known as the ‘baby-whisperer’ though I argue that she’s really a ‘people-whisperer’. We’re truly blessed to be in the presence of her unassuming greatness.”

Also honored at the ceremony was Penny Blanchette of Hinesburg as Family Care Provider of the Year and Laurie Redel of the Essex School District as EEE Provider of the Year.    Blanchette was commended for her commitment to her own constant education in order to improve her practices and provide the best possible experience for the children in her care.  Redel was celebrated as having worked extremely hard to serve the youngest children with the highest needs in the Essex public school system and making the EEE program there, according to written testimony by Tom Bochanski of Hiawatha Elementary, “one of the best in the state.”  A special lifelong achievement award was given to Nancy Savoy, who, though now retired, worked with Headstart for 43 years serving countless numbers of children and families in the Champlain Valley.

Jadranka and Lund colleagues at the Awards Presentation

Julianne Nickerson of Building Bright Futures was keen to also promote the council’s latest project to write a new strategic plan based, in part, on the granting of Project Launch funds by the SAMHSA to Vermont.  The goal of Project Launch is for all children to reach social, emotional, behavioral, physical, and cognitive milestones.  Healthy growth in each of these areas builds the foundation for children to thrive in school and beyond. (Project Launch Briefing Sheet,  projectlaunch.promoteprevent.org.  Retrieved June 21st 2013 from projectlaunch.promoteprevent.org)

The awards ceremony was a celebration of professionals who make a difference in the lives of children every single day.  It was obvious that the statement made by Judy Harvey in her nomination of Gubic, could be applied to all in the room.  “By example, she has taught us all the difference between ‘taking care of a child’ and ‘caring for a child’.”

June 19, 2013

Plants for Lemonade – Basic Economy and Ecology in Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , , , at 1:46 pm by Lund

What do you get when you mix lemon juice + water + sugar + Lund employees?  Tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, onions, beans and flowers, of course!

Lemonade3

Lemonade1  lemonade2

How does this all add up?

The older toddlers and their teachers recently pursued a novel way to acquire plants for their newly established raised beds by running a homemade lemonade stand where the refreshing treat was handed over in exchange for a plant for their garden.  Setting up outside Lund’s new building at 50 Joy Drive, the children encouraged staff members to stop by and try their lemonade.  They had plenty of willing customers who handed over tomato plants, strawberry plants, carrot seeds and more.

Early childhood educator, Laura Murphy, explained that there was also a strong educational component behind this exercise as well as it being a great way to fill their garden beds.  “It’s about social interactions for the children and it is also about responsibility and following through on the commitment that we made to the community.  They might not necessarily want to be making lemonade all day but we said that we would be here so we need to follow through on that.  There is also a lot of science involved.  We experimented with lemonade recipes and the children practiced measuring and adapting the quantities to make the lemonade taste good.”

The children were enthusiastic in greeting their customers, handing over lemonade with fancy straws and receiving the plants for their garden.  Having a firm connection to the food that they eat is an important aspect of the nutrition program at LECP.

June 14, 2013

Seeking Help and Finding Hope – Leah’s Story

Posted in Independence Place, New Horizons Educational Program, Residential tagged , , , , , at 2:04 pm by Lund

When I was 18 and a senior in high school, I became a statistic; a statistic that would affect me for the rest of my life. At age 18 I became one of the 34% of teen girls in the US to become pregnant before age 20.  Shortly after becoming pregnant with my son Ryan, my high school principal informed me that I could not graduate with my class due to excessive absences. Despite the fact that my sporadic attendance was due to hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme morning sickness) and was documented by medical professionals, I was being refused the safety net that a high school diploma ensures. I was discouraged but not completely deterred.  I found Lund, then known as the Lund Family Center (LFC).

"I remained dedicated to the promise I had made my children; to better our lives."

“I remained dedicated to the promise I had made my children; to better our lives.”

It was through Lund that I sought help and found hope. Within 2 days of finding out the devastating news that I could not continue enrollment with my high school, Lund took me in. I became a resident and began receiving many valuable life changing resources. These resources ranged from parenting classes, andlife skills classes, to the New Horizons Education Program. With the assistance of Lund, I finished my high school education on time. I even received my high school diploma and was permitted to walk with my class from my original school.

After giving birth to Ryan, I transitioned to Lund’s Independence Place (IP) Community.  Independence Place is a transitional housing program.   It was here that I found the spirit and encouragement to pursue college. The IP Community gave me a safe and secure place to begin raising my son. The staff members here helped me overcome obstacles, assisted me in locating community resources, and even helped me plan a better future for my family. It was while I lived here that I first began the pursuit of my college education.

My life continued to follow a checkered path and I had two more children over the next 8 years. Yet I was still determined to succeed for the sake of all my boys.  When my third son Davis was only 3 weeks old I began my education at a local university. This is perhaps one of the craziest yet smartest things I have ever decided to do. Although I was alone, fatigued, scared, and overwhelmed I remained dedicated to the promise I had made my children; to better our lives. There were nights in which I received 2 hours of sleep or less, there were days in which I ate absolutely nothing, and there were months in which I had no money to pay our bills and would get multiple shut-off or eviction notices. I somehow remained optimistic though, that if I had made it this far, I could make it the rest of the way drawing on the skills that I had learned during my time at Lund.

I recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and am employed in great job with a company.   It feels good to say that I am now completely self-sufficient and am able to provide for my children.  I am able to model to my children the importance of an education and that all things are possible.   I know I have given my children the courage and determination for a better future.

You can help other women like Leah find hope.  Please support Lund.  Make a donation today.

June 13, 2013

A Lund Adoption Story

Posted in Adoption tagged , , , , at 3:42 pm by Lund

“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.”

overcome

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.

Thank you.

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