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Published January 2015
By Samantha Spengler, Intern

Gabe Studer was a vampire this Halloween. In school he checked out vampire books at the library, his favorite class of the day. He even wore his glow-in-the-dark fangs on his visit to the Cradle. At seven years old, Gabe is a bright and happy little kid.

Collette Rand and Joe Studer are happy to be Gabe’s parents. They chose The Cradle to build their family because of the support and attention given to birth mothers.

“We wanted somebody to be fully informed and who understood the choice she was making,” Collette says. “We wanted her to be supported through that choice. And if she chose to have a change of heart, that’s okay.”

Collette and Joe submitted an application to The Cradle, completed the home study process and created their profile. In early September 2006, they were added to the waiting list.

More than one year and one difficult change of heart later, a week before Thanksgiving 2007, they were selected by a mom who had given birth to a baby boy on September 4. Joe answered the call from The Cradle at his office, where Collette had been expressing doubts not an hour before.

The next day, Collette and Joe met Gabe, who had been in The Cradle Nursery for several weeks. The baby was happy, relaxed and quiet. Collette remembers the joy they felt holding their son for the first time.

“There is a picture of Joe where he is the happiest he’s been in his entire life. He has this big, stupid, goofy grin where you can see all the way to his molars. He is shining because he’s holding Gabe for the very first time,” Collette says.

Adds Joe, “I was all in. He just fit right in my hands.”

Their happiness, though, was clouded with apprehension. It seemed too good to be true, and after having experienced a change of heart before, it was natural to wonder: Would Gabe come home with them or would his birth mother change her mind?

The anxious but hopeful couple waited six days after meeting Gabe before his birth mom signed the paperwork. They came to The Cradle the day before Thanksgiving to take Gabe home.

“Joe sat in the back seat with him the entire way,” Collette recalls. “I was freaked out and stunned—it was very surreal.”

Despite the long road it took to get there, Joe explains what helped the couple the most throughout the process.

“We had really great Cradle counselors. They were very supportive. Making sure you are aware of your support network is important,” he says.

Today, the family is healthy, happy and grateful for everything The Cradle did for them. As donors, Collette and Joe want other families to have the same positive experience they did.

“You think about the organizations that have made a difference in your life; if we can help other people get that same happiness, we have to do that,” says Joe.

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