Many soon-to-be parents have seen their expectant joy turn into approaching tragedy when told their unborn child is not expected to survive. For far too many moms and dads, their only expectation was to ultimately deliver a dead or dying child, leaving them with aching arms. These parents found themselves in an emotional wasteland, with no one to offer comfort or direction. Thanks to caring individuals in Rockford, Illinois, that is changing.
The Haven Network is one of America’s first perinatal death and bereavement organizations. In simple terms, it’s hospice for unborn and newborn babies and their families. Dr. Byron Calhoun, a pioneer in the perinatal hospice movement, established Haven to meet the needs of grieving families who face losing a child late in pregnancy or soon after birth. This journey with the family begins at the time of the initial diagnosis of their pre-born baby’s lethal condition. They work with clergy, physicians and others to wrap these broken-hearted families in love and support.
The Director of Family Services provides spiritual, emotional and practical support throughout the brief life of the baby and even a year beyond. This includes delivering meals to the parents home, layettes, burial gowns and memory boxes. Family Partners, volunteers trained in specialized education, will even support parents through subsequent pregnancies if needed.
Haven believes that every baby is handcrafted by God and valued by the family. Each child is worthy of loving, palliative care until his or her natural death. Abortion or any form of euthanasia is not an option. They strive to give the parents support and encouragement during this tragic time.