Local Couple Adopts; Uses Personal Experience to Help Others
From the bright smiles that now appear on their faces daily, it’s hard to imagine that Joy and Brian were grief-stricken and feeling desperate just six months ago. After suffering through the loss of a son, the Reno couple adopted a baby girl named Lily in late May through Catholic Charities’ Adoption Services Program. They say the child is truly the light of their lives.
“She’s a mellow baby and is just perfect. She’s taking it easy on us,” says Joy.
Joy and Brian made the decision to adopt after their infant son, Ethan, died from an umbilical cord accident just four days before his due date in April 2012. After their loss, Joy miscarried three more times. She and Brian say after the third miscarriage, they both decided they needed a break.
“My body just couldn’t take anymore. That’s when we really started reconsidering the idea of adopting,” says Joy.
Joy says she was adopted as a child, and had always thought she’d like to adopt one day as well, but she wanted to have a biological child first. When Joy and Brian visited the Catholic Charities Adoption Services Program, they learned that a pregnant birth mother had recently decided to put her baby girl up for adoption, and that she was due in just a few short months.
“It just seemed like it was meant to be. Everything fell perfectly into place for us,” says Brian.
Four months later, on May 19th, 2014, Joy and Brian met their daughter, a beautiful baby girl they named Lily. It was the fastest adoption either of them had ever heard of, and the couple says having a child to call their own has helped with their healing process.
“I think adoption is a beautiful thing. I’m very thankful for being adopted. We’ve had the most beautiful experience,” says Joy.
While Joy and Brian embrace parenthood, they’ve also continued to work on a few side projects they started before they adopted Lily. After dealing with the loss of a child, they felt they needed to create a place where other families going through similar situations could go for support. Through the Truckee Meadows Birth Network, Joy and Brian created Northern Nevada MISS, a Miscarriage Infant-Loss Stillbirth Support program. The group holds monthly meetings for parents dealing with these type of losses.
“When we lost Ethan, we felt so isolated. We had heard about a support group, but when we showed up, no one was there. After experiencing that, we made a promise that no one else in our situation would ever show up to an empty meeting room,” says Brian.
The couple also started a Memorial Candle website for parents who lose a child and want a way to help remember them. Joy and Brian have sent out more than 100 candles all over the United States and overseas since they started. Parents who lose a child can send in a photograph and Joy and Brian will put it on a candle, along with a poem or special saying.
“It’s been really healing to connect and meet other parents and talk about these things. It happens to so many people, yet no one talks about it,” says Brian.
While Joy and Brian say they still may want to try again in the future for another biological child, they’re just enjoying Lily for now and basking in the glow of becoming parents.
“We’ve learned that no matter how much you want to be in control of everything in life, you just can’t. We are so grateful for what we have,” says Joy.
The Catholic Charities Adoption Services Program has been around in Reno since 1941. Since it started, the program has completed more than 2,000 local adoptions. For more information, visit: http://ccsnn.org/adopt.html.
To learn about Northern Nevada MISS and view a meeting schedule, go to www.NNV-MISS.org.
Mother of three says she owes her life to St. Vincent’s
Dawn Miller says the three months she and her children recently spent living in a weekly motel were some of the hardest, most humiliating months she has ever faced.
“The conditions there were horrible. We had bad plumbing that constantly went out, no stove, and nowhere for my kids to go out and play.” But Miller says after she finally escaped an abusive, seven-year relationship, she was left with no other choice. In late February, she and her three children, Lillie, age 7; Gino, age 4; and Justice, age 3, left their home with no shoes on their feet, no food, and just $400 to their names.
“We had a house, a yard, and nice things. But overnight, everything changed for us,” says Miller, who previously worked as a massage therapist, but was put out of work when her license lapsed at the beginning of the year and she didn’t have enough money to renew it.
Miller says and her children began eating meals in the St. Vincent’s Dining Room, which kept them from starving. Incredibly grateful for the nutritious food for her children, she says she was also impressed by the special treatment her kids received when eating in the Dining Room.
“People were so kind to us. The kids were always let to the front of the line, and Ray would give them an extra milk or a cookie or a popsicle. They still ask if we can go eat there. They love it,” she says.
While visiting our downtown campus, Miller learned of other programs offered through Catholic Charities that she and her family could benefit from. She ended up visiting the St. Vincent’s Resource Network in order to obtain diapers, personal hygiene items, and clothing vouchers so she could keep her children clean and dressed.
“I feel really grateful,” says Miller. “It’s so humiliating when you can’t put shoes on your children’s feet or feed them. We were able to get clean clothes and food. It was uplifting. It gave us dignity when we had none.”
Miller says without these resources, she wouldn’t have been able to find her way out of homelessness. As of June 1st, Miller and her three children are living in a small apartment of their own, and she is headed back to work as a massage therapist. She says she furnished her place partially with furniture from the St. Vincent’s Thrift Shop, and she will likely continue to get monthly food boxes from the St. Vincent’s Food Pantry in order to make ends meet. She says her children are just as appreciative of their new life as she is.
“They may be young, but they understand. They want to be outside all the time now because they were cooped up for so long. They look at a home-cooked meal so differently because we ate microwave meals for months. It was really hard.”
Miller believes that without St. Vincent’s, she would have lost her children because she had no way to financially afford taking care of them. Now she sees a much brighter future and outlook.
“In five years, I hope to be independent, happy, and giving back. I’m volunteering at a local nonprofit that works with other women in abusive relationships. It’s really healing for me,” says Miller.
For more information about our St. Vincent’s Resource Network, visit: http://ccsnn.org/emergency.html.
Out-of-state residents search Reno homeless population for long lost brother in photograph
It was a donation like no other. In June, our administrative offices received a monetary contribution to our programs, along with a thank you note and a photograph, suggesting a city-wide search for a homeless man named Dennis. Bill Hughes of Washington state was expressing his gratitude in helping him located a man who he says has been living on the streets of Reno since the early 1980′s.
“Thank you for taking the time to visit with me while we were in Reno two weeks ago,” said the letter. “The enclosed donation is sent so that you can continue to do your fine work.”
Hughes says he and another sibling came to Reno in hopes of reconnecting with Dennis, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who hitchhiked to Reno from Omaha, Nebraska around 1982. He says while his brother is a notorious nomad who prefers to live a life of solitude, Bill and his siblings still periodically reach out to see if they can help him in any way.
“We just want to let him know we care and we are here if he needs us,” says Hughes.
Hughes believes his brother survives mostly by living off food that local people have thrown away, but that he has also used the St. Vincent’s Programs periodically over the years to obtain meals and other social services.
“We are just hoping that by putting his face out there enough, ideally we can find out where he is. We can take him home with us, but I don’t think he wants that. So we just want to make sure he’s okay.” says Hughes.
Hughes says Dennis was last seen by local police about two years ago.