rebecca vahle on grieving adoption at the hospital

Improve Adoption Now: Rebecca Vahle on the Intersection of Unplanned Pregnancy & Infertility

No one ever sat with me and said,
“filling the crib is not going to cure your infertility,
it’s not going to fill the hole in your heart.”

I thought that if I just filled the crib, if I became a mom,
I wouldn’t have any more grief and loss.

And now I often tell others:
If you’re adopting that child to heal your heart,
that’s a pretty dang big job to put on a baby.

Rebecca Vahle, adoptive mom,
Angel in Adoption®,
hospital-based adoption liaison (the first in the country),
and champion of HR3690 —

Walking with Hundreds & Talking with Thousands

In this new podcast episode of Adoption: The Long View, Rebecca Vahle shares stories of adoption and parenting from multiple — and I mean MULTIPLE — perspectives. She has an uncommon experience both deep and wide, as she’s walked and talked these difficult paths with hundreds of patients and thousands of healthcare professionals. Rebecca is now actively involved in a bipartisan bill, now working its way through Congress. It’s a pro-education bill that can improve adoption in so many ways and for so many affected. She explains how this new bill would bring standardization and a focus on ethics while housing it in the realm of healthcare.

Background: In 2004, my friend Rebecca Vahle, whom I’d originally stalked because of her work in adoption, created the first hospital-based adoption and parenting support program in the nation. The program has since been recognized as defining best practice in handling the complex, emotional and logistical needs present in infant adoptions in the hospital setting.

how to improve adoption interview with Rebecca Vahle

Then in 2015 Rebecca founded the Family to Family Support Network as a pro-education, non-profit organization. This enabled the program to meet the needs of many communities around the country, rather than only one.

Rebecca is one of my heroes and guides on this journey of exploring the complexities and of improving adoption for women in unplanned pregnancies, for families hoping to adopt, and for the adoptees themselves.

Episode 8: Rebecca Vahle Has Stories to Tell

If you like stories of how to improve adoption — both feel-good ones and cautionary tales — you’ll love this episode. Rebecca has so many to share…

  • from her own experiences as an adoptive mom;
  • as a witness to many women who made the agonizing decision to parent or to place (as well as from staying in touch with these families over the years);
  • from nurses and doctors who have watched such situations unfold;
  • and through her talking with guests, including many adoptees, on her radio show.
Rebecca Vahle on emotions as a beach ball

In this episode, Rebecca shares relevant and poignant stories, as well as her own hard-won wisdom, including:

  • Her awkward hospital experiences when adopting each of her three babies, and the lasting impact that had on her (and now on others!).
  • On borrowing existing practices for bereavement in the hospital and applying them to women (and men) considering adoption.
  • What should the hospital time with an adoption placement look like? What should patient grief look like?
  • Stories on how the hospital-based Family to Family Support Network serves adopted children as they grow up.
  • How does bipartisan-supported House Resolution 3690 serve women in unintended pregnancies, their children, adopting families, social service agencies, and healthcare professionals?
  • The moment when Rebecca’s daughter shared the impact of parents’ infertility on an adoptee: Mom, sounds like you wanted a mansion but got an apartment.
  • And how hearing that heart-squeezing statement turned out to be a good thing.
  • Rebecca’s best piece of advice (asked of all guests).

Prefer to read? Here’s a transcript.

Shareable images below courtesy Clemencia Deleon.

improve adoption for adopting parents
improve adoption by standardizing practices
Rebecca Vahle's daughter on the adoptee experience of being less-than

Show Notes from Rebecca Vahle’s Episode on How to Improve Adoption Now

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guide to living in open adoption

Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a young adult daughter, writes from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

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