Thursday, October 21, 2010

Old (and New) Home Week at Hope Cottage

Old Home Week - I grew up hearing that term used, but often wondered the origin.  Must be a Southern term, right?  I did what every one in the world does - I "googled" it.  Here is what Wikipedia had to say:

"Old Home Week is a practice that originated in the New England region of the United States similar to a holiday or festival. In its beginning in the 19th-20th century it involved a municipal effort to invite former residents of a village, town, or city - usually individuals who grew up in the municipality as children and moved elsewhere in adulthood - to visit the "Old Home", the parental household and home town."

We may not have had a physical Old/New Home Week at Hope Cottage over the past seven days, but we had a spiritual one of sorts. 

It all began last Friday when we had a placement at our office.  Placement is the word used by adoption agencies to define the time when the child is "placed" in the arms of his/her (adoptive) parents.  For many  parents, it is the very first time they see their child in the flesh.  Most placements occur at the hospital, so when one takes place at Hope Cottage it is a treasured event.  I got lucky - the little girl arrived before the parents did, so I was able to spend about 20 minutes rocking and singing to her.  My boys are grown and there are no grandbabies on the horizon, so opportunities to get a "baby fix" are few and far between.  I relish the chance when it comes! 

The staff at Hope Cottage is honored to be able to be a part of such a wonderful, intimate time.  Every single one of the 7,000 placements that has occurred since Hope Cottage began in 1918 is a special occasion.  Each one is unique and we cherish being part of a new family.  There are tears shed on all sides:  parents, birthmothers and yes, staff.  The birthmother was at this placement and it was touching to see how the parents honored her, cherished her, appreciated her and loved her.  Wow!  It was a New Home moment.   This little one month old girl with skin like velvet and the softest black hair you have ever seen had brought together two entities and formed a new family and we got to be a witness to that momentous time.  Doesn't get any better than that!

Hope Watson Rohr before her hair cut
(read previous blog for

the whole story)
Earlier this week, we found out that the oldest living Hope Baby, Hope Watson Rohr, went home at the age of 92.  It turns out that I shared a couple of stories about Hope in an earlier blog and always wondered if she was still living. 

Hope was born in June 1918 and her mother died shortly after giving birth.  As Hope Cottage opened on June 27, 1918, Hope was one of our first residents.  I like to imagine that Hope slept in the baby bed that sits in my office.  It is one of two beds that are from the original Hope Cottage.  I keep it in my office to remind me of the children, past, present and future that we serve at Hope Cottage.  Hope, named by our founder Emma Wylie Ballard after Hope Cottage and for the hope that the baby would survive after the death of her mother, was adopted at the age of 6 months and spent her entire life in Weslaco, TX.  She married and had 3 children, 2 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.  Her son George says this about his mother, "She was very proud of the fact that she was a Hope Baby and had a special place in her heart for any adoptee she met.  She attended the birthday reunion in 1988 and had the time of her life while there."  What a legacy!

Earlier today I spoke to a group of AT and T/CWA employees as part of the United Way Metro Dallas campaign.  Did you know that Hope Cottage has been a United Way agency from the very beginning - back when the United Way was called the Community Chest?  We are proud that the citizens of our city have been helping Hope Families through the United Way since 1928!  After we finished the presentation a man came up and asked me if Hope Cottage still had the big Christmas party every year (told him yes) and did we still have it out at Fair Park?  No, I answered.  I didn't realize that we had ever had it at Fair Park.  He proceeded to tell me about the party in such detail that I just knew he had to have some kind of connection to Hope Cottage.  I thought maybe his mother volunteered for us, so I asked him what his connection was.  He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said "I was adopted from Hope Cottage."  Much squealing and jumping up and down ensued (on my part, not his), hugs were exchanged and contact info given.  Wyndal said at first he wasn't going to "fess up", even went so far to return to his desk and sit down.  "No", he said, "I am going back in there and tell her who I am."  I am so glad he did. 

We may not have had an actual "Old Home Week", but in the past seven days, we had two reunions and  a "New Home" event.  Pretty good week at Hope Cottage and here's looking at more to come!

P.S.  If you are a Hope Family, mark your calendar and plan to attend our Annual Holiday Party, December 5th from 2-4 pm at Hope Cottage.  We will be excited to see you and I  will try not to squeal and jump up and down when you walk in the doors! 

Hope Cottage is the oldest nonprofit, non sectarian adoption agency in Dallas. Since 1918 Hope Cottage has been building and nurturing strong families through counseling, education and adoption services.

If you have questions about adoption, please call Hope Cottage at 214.526.8721.

If you are a woman facing a crises pregnancy and would like to talk to someone about adoption, please call Hope Cottage at 1.800.944.4464 or 214.404.4546. 


  1. I don't know if you've seen this story, but I turned it up when I was doing research on Hope Cottage. It's the life story of a Hope Baby, and how he found his birth family. Google is such a wonderful resource!

  2. Thank you so much. I have read that story, but forgot about it. Thanks for reading the blog and your comments!