Frontline Initiative Self-Determination

Caring for Waiting Babies is Part of My Identity


Jean Hoyt is a foster care provider for Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area

My involvement in a pre-adopt foster care program is founded on my belief that all children deserve a good beginning in life. The purpose of my work is to provide care for an infant from the time of his or her birth until he or she is placed with a permanent adoptive family. The many aspects of this work provide me with a great variety of rewarding roles.

My primary responsibilities on a daily basis are feeding, clothing, and diapering, but I also have to work with others regularly including social workers, adoptive and birth parents, and other pre-adopt families. I serve as a liaison between the adoption agency for whom I work and other individuals involved with the child. I often accompany the infant to their new homes and provide the adoptive family with information about their child and maintain contact with the adoptive family as needed. The amount of time I care for a child varies widely as placement is dependent not only upon the decisions of the birth parents, but also on the availability of an adoptive family for placement.

One of my favorite responsibilities is the development of a “life book.” This involves collecting photographs and other mementos of the child’s early life. This book establishes a complete record of the beginning of a child’s life and is presented to the adoptive family when the child is placed. My primary interest involves working with children with special needs. The children I have cared for have had a variety of difficulties ranging from challenges resulting from premature birth to health problems resulting from alcohol and drug abuse. Many times, people are reluctant to adopt a child with special needs. The adoption process can be long. I find it very rewarding to be able to be present for the child during this time.

Attitude is an especially important element of my work. With respect to a baby’s care, my primary concern is that they receive the best care possible to get a good start in life. I am especially mindful that the children I work with are clean, well-dressed, and loved. I want the children to be viewed as valued persons, regardless of the circumstances into which they were born. I also view my position as one in which I need to share the value of the work I do.

Being a pre-adopt mother has affected my life in many ways. First of all, I am willing to change my own life in order to care for an infant awaiting adoption. While many people may be unwilling to consider night feedings or toting diaper bags wherever they go, I am delighted to be able to provide this service. The people with whom I have regular contact expect me to have a baby.

Although I began this work approximately 10 years ago, when my daughter Catherine was in preschool, my sense of satisfaction has been so great that I want to continue with it. Catherine also sees this work as important. She even comments on wanting to have another baby around, especially when she feels that it has been too long since we have had a child in our home. My role as a pre-adopt mother has gone from being something that I had only heard about to being the center of my identity. I feel very fortunate to be able to care for children who are awaiting adoption.

Note: Since the composition of this article, Lutheran Social Services has expanded its supports delivery to include foster care in addition to pre-adopt care.