Woman's Hospital rolls out family to family support training

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There's a new training program for staff at Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge. The training addresses what can be a very complex situation, a mother who is considering placing her child with an adoptive family.

The program was born of adoptive mother Rebecca Vahle's own experiences. "It was very clear with my daughter's birth that the nurses, some were comfortable," said Valhe. "With my son's birth it was pretty uncomfortable. They weren't quite sure. Out of education I wondered, what kind of education to nurses have?"

It turns out hospital staff have very little training about how to navigate these unique family situations, such as the relationship between a birth mother and a potential adoptive family. So Vahle, a long-time educator, developed the Family to Family Support Network.

This training program focuses on staff providing a mom with compassionate, non-judgmental care. Vahle says she's had experiences with hospital staff pressuring a mother to give up her baby for adoption or to parent her child without considering what's best for the mother. She says it's important that staff remain neutral and respect a mother's choice either way.

The Family to Family program also aims provides a mom with the education and resources she needs to make the best decision for her child during and after birth. "Whether she places for adoption or parents, we just want her to be successful, ultimately, and better the outcome for that child," said Vahle.

The program earned the support of former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, who is also an adoptive mom. "It'll keep kids out of foster care, it will help families be more stable. It will also help women be better parents when they choose that," said Landrieu.

The Family to Family training is rolling out nationwide. Woman's is the first hospital in Louisiana to use the Family to Family Support Network. Staff at Oschner Medical Center will also soon undergo the training for the program.

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