SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- As Catherine Vandament pulled into the school car-pool lane to drop her daughter for kindergarten, her phone buzzed.
The text message read, “She’s in labor, can you get to the hospital?”
In that moment, Catherine realized her second child was about to be born.
She picked up her husband, Maj. Graydon Vandament, a KC-135 weapons officer, and they raced to the hospital arriving around 10 a.m.
A feeling of overwhelming joy hit Catherine, she said, as her soon-to-be adopted son, Ryland, was born. While his birth mother held him, the Vandaments took photos of them together, but then a nurse took him away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit due to respiratory complications. Seeing her son hooked up to IVs and alarms, Catherine said she was “praying that he would make it through the next few minutes.”
Ryland needed to stay in the hospital, so they weren’t able to take him home that day.
“All I wanted to do was protect him and keep his delicate body safe from anything that could hurt him,” she added.
The Vandaments went to the hospital for the next 11 days to rock and feed Ryland, until they were allowed to take their child home, where Ryland was officially adopted on May 24, 2018. Now each year, the Vandament family celebrates what they call a “Gotcha Day,” symbolizing the day they adopted Ryland.
This most recent “Gotcha Day” was celebrated by cooking his favorite foods, playing outside, and watching Toy Story 4.
“I think adoption is an incredible way to grow families,” said Catherine.
While the Vandaments have a biological daughter, Camille, she said they struggled with infertility complications, so adoption was the only way they could expand their family.
“There was not a doubt in my heart or my mind that he was perfectly picked for our family by God,” she said.
Ryland used to be shy but now he has opened up because of preschool.
“He stands in the yard and points at every airplane that will fly over and he will yell, ‘daddy plane,’” she said. “And, I’ve learned that Ryland gives the best hugs of any toddler I’ve ever met.”
Catherine said she supports parents interested in fostering children, or adoption, and the Airman and Family Readiness Center has many resources available to help with this.
For instance, Holly Kieu is a foster care representative through the AFRC, which means she provides support for people who are interested in fostering or adopting. General requirements to adopt are specialized training, background checks, medical clearances and an assessment.
“I love working with families at the base being able to support those serving our country,” said Kieu.
For more information or questions, contact Holly at firstname.lastname@example.org.