Category Archives: parenting

Meet Tracie, The CPO Parenting Coordinator

Written by Amie Vetscher, this article introduces you to one of the vital parts of our ministry: our Parenting Group. Now that you’ll have met Tracie Roesslein, we will occasionally profile one of our many parenting success stories. Keep an eye on the blog in the coming months to see those!

Surpassing a twenty-year milestone in any field of work is a hallmark achievement. Devoting all of those years solely toward one organization is an exceptional form of loyalty that seems virtually extinct today. Prevailing through the perennial disappointments and triumphs of the same job, with the battle scars to prove it—that sounds like a buoy of strength in a sea of burnout.
But…doing all of this without ever cashing a paycheck? That may either be an oddity looming upon insanity, or the making of a real-world saint.
Sustained by faith that God has led her to be doing “exactly what [she’s] supposed to be doing”—and the occasional Braum’s hot fudge sundae— Tracie Roesslein has been the Parenting Coordinator at Crisis Pregnancy Outreach for the last sixteen years.

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Seven years before that, Tracie started handling the food and beverage component of all of the CPO parties. When a CPO girl has a baby, her parenting mom support group or birth mom support group, along with the many families involved in CPO’s ministry, shower her with baby gifts or personal gifts. Each year, CPO also hosts two Waiting Family Workshops, four days of informative speaker panels and training for adoptive families. In addition to supporting CPO’s Parenting Moms, Tracie volunteers her to time to make sure all those events are filled with fellowship and some great food; she has been doing this for the last twenty-three years.
“You could actually say,” explains Tracie, “I’ve been a part of CPO from the get go.” Founded by her mother, Cheryl Bauman, in 1983, CPO has been a part of Tracie’s life since she was a teenager. In the years of CPO’s infancy, Tracie found herself in a circumstance very similar to those women she now supports in the Parenting Group. Tracie was sixteen when she found out she was pregnant with her son Jay (now age twenty-nine), and became a working teen mother with an unsupportive birthfather at age seventeen. During that difficult time, Tracie would pray, “Lord, how are You going to redeem this in any way?”
Today that answer is clear. Empathy.
“I really do get where these girls are at,” Tracie says. “I get the addiction. I get the rotten boyfriend. I get that.” Some of the members of the Parenting Group, which meets weekly every Tuesday night, have been going for the last six years. They know everything about each other’s lives. Newer members of the group have three-month-olds on up. “If they’re going to parent,” Tracie believes, “they need the best advice and the best things they can do.”
Now there are fifteen women who meet regularly, and Tracie has two assistants, Jenni Anthamatten and April Walter. Nutritionists, nurses, therapists and many others have presented as guest speakers to speak about child nutrition, milestones in child development, and dozens of useful and relevant topics to moms trying to raise healthy kids on their own.
After sixteen years and still counting, nearly two-hundred women have been touched by the grace of this women’s group. “I have lots of moments that I’ve just been in awe of how God has moved through CPO and moved in these girls’ lives.”
No one can know what the future will hold or how God will exactly move through these interconnected lives. But they can have fun together. They can be welcoming and empathetic to the next young woman who needs good advice and a solid network of dependable friends. They can celebrate new births and their children’s developmental milestones. And, in the case of their resilient and committed leader who feels she has “been there and has the kids to show for it,” they can always be there for each other. That is Tracie’s plan. “I never see myself quitting,” she says. “Never.”

Photo credit: Alaina Butler of Inspired Life Photos


The CPO Gala: A Night of Huge Importance

Written by Angela McLaughlin

When a woman comes to Crisis Pregnancy Outreach, a tremendous weight can be lifted from her shoulders. She will receive love, understanding, compassion and assistance throughout her entire journey. This assistance comes in many forms. It may be something as simple as clothing to wear during her pregnancy, or something as large as a safe environment to live in during and after choosing to make an adoption plan for her child. Some women need help to keep the lights on at their homes; some women simply need the comfort of a shoulder to cry on. Whatever the needs of the women who come through CPO’s doors are, they will be met. I write from experience, as someone who has been truly touched and changed by the help I received from this organization.

Like many non-profits, CPO holds an annual fundraiser, which allows them to continue their amazing ministry. It’s an inspiring evening, filled with stories from birth mothers, adoptive families and their children, volunteers, and women who are parenting their children. It’s a chance for the many lives that have been transformed by CPO to come together and celebrate this amazing, life affirming organization.

Unlike many other organizations, no one at CPO receives a salary. Volunteers who care deeply about the mission and the families they serve are the driving force behind all the amazing things that CPO accomplishes. And the same goes for the Gala. As Stephanie Johnson (a member of the gala planning committee) told me, “The secret to putting the gala together is volunteers! There is a committee each year that works for months on every little detail. Other volunteers help by picking up donations, working at basket wrap day, setting up the day of the event, working the event and even cleaning up afterward. If it weren’t for our CPO volunteers and the team at Hampton Creative, the Gala would not be possible.”

One of my the most extraordinary and inspiring moments of the Gala each year is the video testimonial. Volunteers work to put together a video, capturing the resilience and strength of the women who have been healed, helped, and loved through their crisis pregnancy. The video is always a show stopper, bringing tears and laughter, and reminding everyone in attendance of the tremendous impact of their help, whether the donation comes in the form of time or money. Stephanie describes it as “the moment we at CPO can share what our ministry is all about and why it is so amazing!”

The response is equally amazing. In 2013, CPO raised $80,000, enough to pay off the Transitional Home, ensuring that women who choose to make adoption plans for their children are able to rest and begin the next chapter of their lives in a safe and loving environment, something some of them have never experienced before. In 2014, CPO raised $100,000, enabling the organization to purchase a van, allowing them to provide reliable transportation to counseling, group meetings, and doctors appointments. This allows the mission of CPO to be delivered in an even more efficient manner, ensuring that no woman has to miss an opportunity for help and healing due to transportation issues.

As a birth mom whose life was changed dramatically by making an adoption plan for my beloved Samuel, I hope to lend my voice to this event for years to come. While the most valuable services provided by CPO are indeed free, it’s difficult to focus on healing when you’re unsure of your living situations, burdened by medical issues, or unable to attend much needed counseling because you don’t have transportation. The CPO Gala is a wonderful and beatific event, with a silent auction, delicious food and fabulous decor. But it’s more than that. It’s a request, a request for the ability to continue to provide birth moms, adoptive families and the children they love with the support that they need and deserve. It’s a party, definitely, but it’s also a vital fundraiser for a cause that truly transforms lives. And what could be more important?

Want to get involved? There are still opportunities to help with this year’s gala. We will have a silent auction prep session (wrapping up the baskets and items) on February 19th from 10-2 at the CPO office. Childcare and lunch are provided.
Help is also needed the day of the gala setting up for the night, working the event and cleaning up. If you would like to help please email stephanie@cpotulsa.org.

Want to attend? All the info you need is included on the invitation below. Here’s the link to purchase tickets: cpotulsa.org/rsvp.

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Volunteers Matter: Sarah Coffin

Crisis Pregnancy Outreach has been 100% run by volunteers since its inception more than 30 years ago. No one has ever received a salary, which enables CPO to make an even bigger difference in the lives of Tulsa area women. We know that volunteers matter, and to honor them we periodically interview and highlight one of our volunteers.
This week we learn about Sarah Coffin, one of our awesome volunteers!
Q: In what ways do you volunteer at CPO?
A: I began volunteering at CPO as a mentor for birth moms, began working as a birth doula and have since become one of Cheryl’s assistants helping facilitate adoptions.
Q: How long have you been volunteering with us?
A: Since 2009.
Q: How did you find out about CPO?
A: Marlita Camacho, one if the other birth doulas, invited me to attend and I fell in love with the girls and the ministry.
Q: Why did you choose to volunteer at CPO versus other organizations? What is it about crisis pregnancies that drew you to us?
A: I have always had a passion for empowering women and found an ideal ministry that empowers women in the midst of crisis to find their voice and receive the support they need regardless of parenting or making an adoption plan. This ministry goes beyond providing abortion alternatives and walks beside women in their greatest need, loves them and gives them the strength and support to take control of their lives.
Q: What have you learned about yourself since you began volunteering?
A: I have learned that God is a god full of grace. His heart yearns for these women to be loved and shown His grace on earth. We are all desperate for His grace.
Q: How have you seen God’s hand at work in the ministry of CPO?
A: His hand is evident every time a woman in crisis smiles, receives a compassionate hug, and is proud of her decisions.
Q: What would you say to anyone who may be considering becoming involved with CPO?
A: This is a wonderful ministry that brings you straight into the direct line of hope for so many people. You become an asset of God working in these precious women’s lives and an option beyond abortion when there seems to be no other way.

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A big thanks to Sarah Coffin for being a dedicated volunteer at CPO!


CPO’s Doulas: An Amazing Gift

Written by Tim and Amie Vetscher, this is the fourth and final piece in a series of articles about CPO’s recent Waiting Families Workshop. Click here for the first installment, here for the second installment, and here for the third installment.
During the recent Waiting Families Workshop, adoptive couples learned about the important roles doulas serve in the adoption process.  If you’re not familiar with doulas, they are people who assist and coach women during their pregnancy, during labor, as well as after the birth.
You may also not know that Crisis Pregnancy Outreach is the only agency in Tulsa that ensures every woman has a doula, whether they’re parenting their own baby or making an adoption plan.
Doulas aren’t just a convenience, their presence has been shown to dramatically help the birth mom and her new baby.  For example, doula-assisted labors are, on average, 25% shorter.
Women who hire doulas typically require fewer drugs to assist them through labor.  In fact, the presence of a doula drops the odds of a woman requiring an epidural by more than 50 percent.  A recent University of Minnesota study found that hiring a doula can also reduce a woman’s risk of having a c-section by nearly 60 percent.
“If you have some kind of fear, it can actually physically hold you back, so we can help moms work through those fears in the moment,” certified doula Erin Stertz-Follett told KSTP-TV in Minneapolis.
The doulas for CPO are Jenni Anthamatten, Marlita Camacho, and Sarah Coffin. Together, they serve all the women of CPO who except out offer of doula services. They all have different personalities and styles, which means that our pregnant women have a true choice in who will be assisting them in the delivery room.

Jenni Anthamatten

 

Marlita Camacho

Sarah Coffin

From the standpoint of an adoptive couple, doulas also provide several key benefits.  Doulas assist the adoptive couple by letting them know specific ways they can help their birth mom.  Doulas also arrange and coordinate the presence of the adoptive couple at the birth of their adoptive son or daughter, making it less stressful on the birth mom.
In other words, everybody at CPO benefits from having a doula present at birth.

The CPO Doulas

A huge thanks to Alaina Butler of Inspired Life Photos for getting our busy and beautiful doulas in one place and taking these gorgeous photos of them!


At CPO

At CPO, women feel safe.
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At CPO, children play freely.
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At CPO, volunteers are dedicated.
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At CPO, women learn to trust.
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At CPO, we are together.
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At CPO, we celebrate accomplishments.
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At CPO, we mourn losses.
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At CPO, we live.
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At CPO, we thrive.
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At CPO, lives are changed.
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Dr. Barbara Sorrels: Healing from Prenatal Trauma

This month at CPO, we had a very special speaker: Dr. Barbara Sorrels, expert in child development and attachment as well as founder of The Institute for Childhood Education.
Dr. Sorrels came to our Adoptive Family Support Group (in conjunction with our Waiting Families Workshop) to discuss the ways to help our adopted kiddos heal from prenatal trauma and the importance of creating a strong attachment with our children.
Dr. Sorrels is a wealth of information, and there is just no way to possibly convey all of her amazing insights in this one article. Instead, I will do my best to highlight below some of the key points she made during her one-hour talk with us.

  • Attachment is the foundation of our life. It is the strong emotional bond between a child and an adult who is consistently present in the life of the child. We are designed to connect… with ourselves, with others, and ultimately, with God.
  • The following topics are keys for creating attachments with your children: sensory rich process (lots of touching and talking), communication of value and preciousness, predictable environments, responsive caregivers, emotional attunement, playful interactions, eye contact, sense of “felt safety”.
  • Dr. Sorrels cautions against many of the mainstream parenting books currently on the market. The authors rarely have a background in child development or scientific brain research. The parenting styles suggested in these books are often less about the needs of the baby and more about the convenience of the parents. For example, sleeping and feeding schedules created by the parents are not appropriate. Follow the baby’s cues for feeding and sleeping, so that he will know that you are there to meet his needs, and he can trust you to do so consistently. It’s only for a few months… soon they will develop a predictable schedule. Until then, let the baby set the rhythms.
  • Carry your infants as much as possible. Yes, car seats are important, but unless in the car, Dr. Sorrels advises to have your baby in your arms rather than in the infant carrier.  Your heartbeat, your touch, your breathing, your voice are all key in how her brain will develop for her lifetime. The more of YOU that she gets, the better. Slings and other baby-wearing devices are fantastic ways to bond with your baby while multi-tasking.
  • Your baby is constantly learning from your tone of voice and facial expressions. They develop their communication based on the communication they see from you.
  • Touch is critical. Dr. Sorrels cited a study that showed that NICU babies who are allowed frequent physical contact will grow an average of 42% more than those who do not have frequent access to touch. Even if you don’t have a NICU baby… touch them often! You can learn how to properly administer infant massage, or you can just gently lotion them once or twice a day. Tickles, cuddles, and kisses are great ways to connect with your baby, too!

This is just a scratch on the surface of what Dr. Sorrels had to share with us. There is so much more you can learn from her, and you can go to her website at www.drbarbarasorrels.com to find out about the many parenting courses she teaches at local churches.
The bottom line, though, is this: Be intentional about bonding with your baby or child, biological or adopted, from DAY ONE. It will affect them their entire lives, and that is scientifically proven fact.


CPO Provides Counseling for Life for Our Girls in Need

This article was originally published in July 2013, by Rhonda Fisher.

In the six years since T* first came to CPO, she has made tremendous and dramatic changes in her life. Pregnant, living on the streets of Memphis, and addicted to crack, she came to CPO angry, broken and defeated. She wanted to place her baby for adoption as quickly as possible and get back to living life on the streets. But God had other plans in mind. She is now married, parenting two children, and has been clean and sober for years. She credits much of her transformation to CPO volunteers, the transitional home and house mom, and especially… counseling.

CPO offers counseling from licensed professionals to all girls (parenting or placing) as often as needed, for life. Free.

There are a variety of counselors that work regularly with CPO girls to allow for the best fit, with both personalities and schedules. Janey W. is one of those counselors. She’s been working with CPO girls for 28 years… from almost the very beginning of CPO itself! When I asked her how many girls she has helped over the years, it quickly became clear that the only word to use here is innumerable. Janey was quick to point out that she never sees any of the girls as a number anyway. They are way more than just another client to her. “They are people, with pain. I want to give them hope that there is courage to heal. Some girls really get into the process and really engage in the therapy. They do the assignments and readings that I suggest,” and it is clear over time that it helps.

Of course, there are some girls that she sees many times and isn’t able to get through to them, but they are usually fighting a lot more than pain from their past. Girls who come with mental illnesses like borderline personality disorder and oppositional defiance disorder are a special kind of challenge. She says, “They just fight everything, because they’re just looking for a fight. It’s difficult to engage that category of girls, but humor does it, and building a relationship does it.”

Ultimately, Janey just cares about these girls. She explains, “If I can connect, if I can truly understand where they’ve been, and what has brought them to where they are, then together we can walk to a different place.”

T says that Janey is just the counselor for her. “I knew how to manipulate people like Janey. But she saw me coming! She would just look at me, she didn’t even have to say anything. She’d just give me a sideways look with that straight mouth like, ‘Really, T?’ By the third counseling session I knew this lady really could help me. I trusted her.”

Janey is very grateful to CPO for letting her really work with these girls… without limits. She says that in her private practice, she is bound by the limitations of insurance allowances, etc. But with CPO, she can see girls as needed. Sometimes that’s just once a week for a while. Sometimes it’s a two hour session. Sometimes it’s a midnight phone call. Sometimes it’s twice in one week. Sometimes it’s five years after their last session, but something came up. “I’m so glad to see the girls when they come back, and it is such a huge gift– not only to these girls, but to me as a therapist– to not have to start all over again. We can just pick up right where we left off.”

And it’s not just CPO girls that are helped by our counselors. They also meet with adoptive families, and sometimes even adopted children as needed. Isaac began seeing Janey because he was struggling with the fact that he doesn’t know his birthmother, and he never will. His adoption is closed, and will remain that way. He was surprised by how much his time with Janey helped him. “She helped me more than I could ever imagine. When my mom first signed me up to go with her, I thought it would just be an hour on a couch, listening to a lady talk to me, and I would walk out feeling a little bit better. But, I walked out feeling so much better, every single day. It’s like I had a completely new life.”

Both T and Isaac spoke of how counseling helped them with a lot more than the adoption issues that they thought they were going to address. Isaac adds, “She has helped me be nicer, too. One of the reasons I went to her was for being mean. I went to her for the whole birthmom issue, but we ended up talking about… almost every issue I have. Like, from spiritual stuff to social stuff. She’s really great. She works miracles.”

T explains, “I was okay with the adoption portion. I knew that when I was out there doing drugs, that would never be my baby. The first thing we had to address was my drug addiction. I was a hard, angry, bitter crack addict. Just because the crack wasn’t in me didn’t mean that the addict wasn’t still sitting there. But Janey and CPO turned me into a lady. I had to be taught everything. How to go to a store and pay for things, how to dress. They molded me into a lady.”

Janey knows that all these amazing transformations don’t just happen in her office. Volunteers are a huge part of that. In fact, she dedicated Natasha, one of her many books about crisis pregnancies, to the CPO volunteers. An excerpt from that dedication page reads, “In Titus 2:7, Paul states, ‘In everything set them an example by doing what is good.  In your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.’ Because of your crucial role in these young women’s lives, I dedicate this book to the CPO volunteers and mentors.  You sow seeds whose fruits you will not always be allowed to see this side of Heaven.  So, lead with integrity and honor – for, unbeknownst to you, young eyes are watching.”


*The names of the women CPO helps are always redacted for privacy purposes.


CPO Easter Party 2014

Everyone had a blast at the CPO Easter Party last week! Special thanks to all who came and had fun, to those who coordinated the event, and those who cleaned up afterwards! See below for tons of fun!

There was plenty of yummy food and neat table decor!

Even the babies were there!

LOTS of eggs to hide!

Adoption is beautiful!

Yummy snacks=happy kiddos!

Fun with balloons!

Looks like the kids are ready for the egg hunt!




Ready, set, GO!!

Outdoor fun!









What’s inside?

Tiny friends!








Eggs!!

Back inside for cake, cookies, and goodie bags for each kid!

*Photos graciously provided by Alaina Butler of Inspired Life Photos.


Transitioning to a Changed Life

This article was originally published in February 2013, by Rhonda Fisher.

One of the ways CPO is able to help girls in need is through the transitional home. This is a safe haven for girls (pregnant or otherwise) who need time to “get back on their feet”. While there, girls can go to school, learn how to drive and get a license, get a job, and focus on finding an apartment of their own. They are able to stay for months at a time. Over the years, many lives have been changed while staying in the transitional home. In her 17 months as the current “house mom”, Kris has affected the lives of at least 15 girls. As a volunteer, she says that being the house mom has “given me many blessings, including a family of my own, and blessed me with the desire of my heart to be a mom…and given me many opportunities to share the love of Christ with the girls.” She says some of the very helpful things volunteers can do are provide transportation; help girls prepare resumes and various applications for jobs, school, or housing online; work around the house, like gardening or cooking; and even spend time with the girls, like a walk or a bike ride.

All help is appreciated, and even the smallest efforts can change lives. One touched life comes to us in the story of R*, who moved out of the transition house almost a year ago, after staying there for about 6 months. She says, “It was really good. A lot of [the advice and guidance] sank in a while later, but Kris just taught me a lot of life lessons. She’s my mom… my 5th or 6th or 7th mom. I have so many moms from CPO. She has influenced me a lot with just getting my life together now, even after I moved out of the transitional house. I had been running from myself and from God and she kind of, you know, helped me confront a lot of issues I had. House meetings often had a lot of tears.” She says that she really appreciated the volunteers that were able to provide transportation for her, adding, “It’s really important, and such a relief to have that reassurance from one of the volunteers.” She wants me to report that she now has her own stable apartment, she depends on herself, she has a job, and pays all her own bills. She attends church as often as possible and appreciates the therapy sessions provided by CPO. She is happy to add that of 600 people at her job she is already ranked as the 2nd most successful agent. More than anything else, R seems to be proud of her independence. “Every little thing that happened while I was at the transitional house has affected my life in so many different ways it’s hard to talk about it all in a short amount of time. Hearing how volunteers decided to help our just out of the goodness of her heart is so touching. It means so much.”

F* also has a success story from her time at the transitional house. She was there for about 3 months, and also mentioned how much she appreciated the transportation that was provided. But for F, it was more than just a ride to an appointment. “It was nice to have somebody to talk to, someone who cares.” She says Kris encouraged her daily that she could have a better life than she was previously living, and now “I have an apartment with my son and no one is yelling at me or throwing things at me, and there is just a big difference.” She also appreciates her newfound independence. “God definitely put me there for that time in my life, and CPO is just… awesome.”

Delores is a former house mom, and Kris says she is still a wonderful mentor to her. Among her many gems of advice: “My heart is still with the home, even though I’m not there. We should all continue to pray for them and even though we may not always see the change at first or if some of [the girls] leave quicker than we’d like, we must remember that God has a hand in the life of each girl that crosses that path and that a seed has been planted no matter what we see. As we continue to pray and hold them up, they will become what God intends for them to become.” Well said, Delores. Well said.

 


*The names of the women CPO helps are always redacted for privacy purposes.