St. Luke's adoption and surrogacy program ranks #1 in U.S.

St. Luke's program ranks #1 in U.S.

BOISE - November is National Adoption Month, and some may not know - but a program at St. Luke's Hospital called the "Unique Families Program" is ranked number one in the nation for adoption surrogacy according to the National Coalition for Adoption.

It's helped more than 100 families in 2016 create their unique families.

"There are a lot of kids that have truly left little footprints on my heart," said Amy Rohyans Stewart, a Child Life Manager at St. Luke's Children's Hospital.

From footprints on her heart to the pitter patter of feet on the living room floor, the Stewart family grew by one three years ago - in a very unique way. 

When Rohyan first saw Annelise at St. Luke's Hospital in 2013, she says the feeling was unforgettable.

"I was shaken," said Rohyan. "I knew in the instant that I laid eyes on her that she was my baby."

Two weeks later, a social worker contacted Rohyan telling her that Annelise's birth mother wanted to put her up for adoption. 

"It really was like a positive pregnancy test I was in that kind of shock," said Rohyan.

The Stewarts adopted Annelise, whose mother was only 14 years old at the time. 

"We hit the ground running, we learned a lot of sign language," said Rohyan.

The Stewart's' story isn't uncommon at St. Luke's Hospital. A couple of years ago the hospital launched what's called the "Unique Families Program".

"Unique care is unique to everybody," said Program Manager Melissa Ward. "We can't think that a family is traditional and one size fits all."

Staff care for families choosing adoption or surrogacy with specialized training.

"We find that families that are participating in adoption or surrogacy often have social stereotyping," said Ward.

The program bridges the gap between birth moms and adoptive families and educates the new parents on everything from how to change a diaper to what to look for when the baby gets sick.

"Adoptive mothers were not given the same level of education so they were left to go the Internet, they were left to books," said Ward. "They weren't able to get that one on one with the doctors' visits, and we're able to bring that forward."

The program began shortly after Annelise was adopted, and it's something Rohyan says would've helped her navigate the adoption a little easier.   

"Had I had that help from the hospital to know how to handle that, that would've been so helpful to me," said Rohyan.

No matter how unique their family is, Rohyan says they are all one big happy family, including Annelise's birth mother.

"She was born to us just in a different way," said Rohyan. "I will love her for the rest of my life."

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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