Caregiver Peer Navigator Marjorie Pennington on A Military Family’s 3,000 Mile Journey for their Daughter

My recent work with a military family needing help to prepare for the birth of their adoptive daughter was a case that touched my heart.  The adoptive -military family reached out to Code of Support when they ran into an unexpected but major issue. They were preparing to finalize the adoption of a soon to be born baby girl from an active duty service member. The adoptive family was stationed in Washington state and the birthmother was stationed 3,000 miles across the country in Virginia.  From the beginning, the adoptive parents had been petitioning for assistance to have the birthmother give birth in Washington so that they would be present when their daughter was born.

With the assistance taking significantly longer than expected, time was running out for the birth mother to travel across the country. It looked like the birthmother, who was alone, would have to give birth in Virginia. Even more alarming, since this was a private adoption, if the adoptive parents could not get to Virginia in time for the birth, their newborn daughter ran a high risk of ending up in the state foster care system.

It was now up to the adoptive parents to get to the birthmother. This was an unforeseen change of plans which included significant expenses such as legal fees, airfare, lodging, transportation to bring the newborn back home to Washington. The situation was overwhelming… and the clock was ticking. 

After listening to their situation, I knew I had to move quickly.

As a Dole Caregiver Peer Navigator with Code of Support, it is my role to assess the immediate need and leverage as many resources as possible to help a client through a crisis situation. In this case, it was not just addressing the needs of the birthmother and the adoptive family, but to also help ensure that the newborn did not needlessly end up in foster care. It was obvious that obtaining travel for the adoptive parents was the priority. I was able to first leverage a flight for the adoptive father with Helping Heroes Fly. The excitement in the adoptive mother's voice after I told her I had her husband’s flight secured only further fueled my ongoing commitment to obtain her flight and lodging. I then contacted Rebuild Hope and after speaking with their team about eligibility requirements, we submitted an application and not long after, we had the news that travel would be paid and affordable lodging secured. The newborn’s parents were now on their way to Virginia.

While this case was technically closed, it was great to receive an email not long after from the family letting me know that their daughter was safely home in Washington. Knowing that this family was together was one of the best feelings in the world.  These words from the mother's email will always stay with me "Words can't express what your support has meant to me. You are a remarkable woman. I truly mean that."  I never know what journey I’ll take with our clients but I know that the work we do at Code of Support is simply amazing. Each day my colleagues and I are dealing with cases that touch our hearts and make us realize how great the need is for our foundation, and for our many partners who are assisting our veteran families.