The decision to create a foundation in loving memory of my biological mother, Donna K. Evans, came during the short time prior to her death. Donna had gone to the emergency room thinking she had some type of cold or respiratory infection. Unfortunately, her stay became the perfect storm of conditions and she never left the hospital. Donna’s initial diagnosis was pneumonia, which lead to a partial lung removal, C-Diff, a colostomy, and her health just continued to decline rapidly.
When the nurses said my mother had unexpectedly taken a taken a turn for the worse and it was time to come, my husband and I flew out on the next flight. We prayed we would make it in time. The nursing staff was wonderful and promised to do everything they could to keep her alive until we could say goodbye. The charge nurse even taped my cell phone number to her chest, so I was able to talk to her during our flight layovers. Thankfully, we made it to the hospital in time to share the last precious moments with her.
Saying goodbye is never easy. Words cannot express the anguish, regret, guilt, or despair felt in those final moments. Donna, although in a coma, gave us enough time over the next few days to say everything we needed to share. Those last few days spent with her were filled with polishing her toenails, brushing her hair, decorating her hospital room, and meeting with the hospital palliative team. I was able to pass on the message my adoptive parents always wanted her to know; that they were so grateful for her choice of adoption. I was able to reassure her of how brave she was and what a hero she was in my eyes and in the eyes of so many others. I knew that she still felt she needed redemption in the eyes of those who had learned about her adoption choice. Those important words to all who knew and loved her would be in the eulogy I would share.
The eulogy I shared were words from the heart which gave my birth mother, Donna, a voice for redemption, closure, and peace.
Unfortunately, it was my husband’s first time meeting her in person, (we had just gotten married the month prior). He was able to sit by her bedside and talk to her for hours; while Donna in her coma, just listened. It was during that time with Donna that my husband reassured her that her life mattered and promised her that her legacy would continue. It was then that he and I both knew this was just the beginning of a new life; one we would call the Donna K. Evans Foundation.
We would take all of the moments in my biological mother’s adoption story and turn them from pain and sorrow to glory and victory for countless women who would and have walked in her shoes. All the support, counseling, and after-care services that Donna never received would be incorporated into a program geared to assist women after their adoption placement. Had she been able to speak or weigh in on the foundation, I know her final words would be… “I am blessed.”
The Circle of Life: The Beginning of a Legacy
As Kelly and Adam held Donna’s hand in the ICU they vowed Donna’s life would have an impact on future birth moms…little did Donna know that this was not a period in her life, but a semicolon to her legacy.
In honor of Donna’s legacy, the Donna K. Evans Foundation S.W.A.P Program (Supporting Women After Placement) was created as an after-care program for women who have made the brave and selfless choice to place their child for adoption. Angel Wings are our logo because angels were so special to Donna and a precious reminder of the baby girl she placed for adoption. It is our hope to help women find their wings to fly.
After-care programs for birth mothers are virtually nonexistent. Understanding the undeniable need for support and care for birth mothers the Donna K. Evans Foundation S.W.A.P. program provides HOPE to birth mothers when they feel lost; STRENGTH when they feel weak; and SUPPORT when they feel forgotten and lonely. The S.W.A.P program welcomes birth mothers into the program who are often in vulnerable places in their lives. Many face homelessness, poverty, substance abuse, and mental health issues. In addition, birth mothers can feel forgotten, lonely, and are not sure where to turn after they place a child for adoption. The selfless choice is one that can affect birth mothers for years down the road.
Our trauma-informed model helps us meet the birth mothers right where they are at on their journey and identify the root of the many layers of “life” birth mothers are facing and is impacting their lives. Our integrative and holistic model provides a monthly support group and services and resources in one location to access support with jobs, housing, education, recovery, mental health, life skills classes, and much more.
Birth mothers give a selfless and priceless gift to create families for others. We are here to embrace them with a community and network of support they need to heal, to grow, and to thrive. Join us in supporting birth mothers find their wings to fly . . .