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Widening Our Family Circle: A Reunification Story

Chris and Victoria Cunningham have always had hearts for restoration. Their Christian faith inspired them to become foster parents with Thornwell in early 2020. They felt God had called them to foster care and divinely equipped them. Victoria’s career as an occupational therapist uniquely prepared her to care for children with unique needs – like Alana.

Alana joined the Cunningham family as a tiny infant from the hospital with specialized feeding and medical needs. Victoria recounts those early days spent in the hospital with Alana working with her care team to prepare to bring her home. It certainly was a daunting task.

Because of your generosity, Thornwell was able to wrap around the Cunningham family with encouragement, support, and supplies to care well for baby Alana! They brought her home, and she began to thrive.

As the family settled into life with a newborn, Victoria got the call that it was time for Alana to visit her family. These visits typically happen in the DSS office. Victoria, filled with compassion, volunteered to meet the family in a park instead to teach them how to do Alana’s tube feeds. She didn’t know how much this meeting would change all their lives forever.

Victoria was surprised at what a loving and involved extended family Alana had. She watched as they held Alana and eagerly listened to Victoria detail the baby’s routine. They showered Victoria with gratitude for keeping Alana safe. Victoria continued to develop relationships with Alana’s mother and aunts, inviting them to be active in Alana’s life through FaceTime calls, email updates, and attending doctor’s appointments.

When you invest in Thornwell, you invest in families like Victoria’s. You inspire compassion and commitment that goes above and beyond to support restoration for children and families.

A few months later, a judge ordered Alana to return home to the care of an aunt. Chris and Victoria were even invited to the reunification celebration party! They hugged family members, prayed over Alana, and ate cake. They thought that would be the end, but it was far from it! Alana still visits weekly and celebrates important moments with them by her side. She calls Victoria “Tia,” which means aunt.

This summer, the entire family went on a cruise together- Chris, Victoria, their son, Alana, and all her extended family. They are truly family to each other. They rely on each other, cheer each other on, and navigate the dynamics of a blended family. Alana’s eyes light up when she sees Victoria, and as she jumps into her arms, you can feel the impact of Victoria’s selfless love.

As the Cunninghams continue to welcome children into their home, Alana is like a sister who understands the importance of family in all its wide and wonderful forms.

As Mother Teresa says, “The problem with the world is that we draw our family circle too small.”

This is life change! This is redemption! This is the power of your gift!

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