Between the diapers, the endless feeding and difficult nights, taking care of a baby is not an easy task and often very stressful. At Providence Place, dedicated employees providing cradle cares are part of the team, and LeClair Reaves is one of them.
LeClair is a passionate, licensed foster mother who has provided temporary care for 200 babies up to 10 months of age since 1990, and will sometimes take care of two babies at a time. Until they go to their permanent families, she feeds, bathes, diapers and rocks them to sleep. The babies stay with her for a short period or months at a time – until their legal arrangements are finalized. She’s an important member of the adoption team.
Cradle care is a Providence Place term used for private foster care. Some of the cradle-care team are licensed foster mothers and others are families who work with Providence Place to provide foster care between birth and placement.
LeClair has always loved nurturing children. She started caring for children in her teens as a babysitter. Later, she started her own family. When her son became engaged and her daughter was in college, she knew God was guiding her to some of His littlest ones.
“At first, it was a fulfillment of my own need to nurture, but soon I knew that taking care of babies was not about me,” she said. “I realized I had a gift from God to be used for His purposes, not mine, and it came with a price – I must love a child unconditionally and with a commitment to let that baby go.”
LeClair said some babies are easy to care for, but others need special attention because of early drug or alcohol exposure or because they were very premature. Some babies need surgery, apnea monitors, feeding tubes or oxygen. But they are all the same to LeClair; they are all precious and they are all loved.
When she’s on the Providence Place campus, you’ll find her rocking a baby back and forth, reassuring anxious new parents and teaching them how to care for their baby, or comforting a young mother who has decided to place her child – always a difficult decision but also an unselfish act of love.
She’s learned much over the years, and she’s happy to share this with young adoptive parents: “You know, dishes can wait, bills can get paid later, telephone calls can be returned, and cold meals are not so bad. After a few weeks, you’ll be amazed at what you can do with one hand!”
When the time comes for infants to go to their new parents, she has learned to say goodbye, knowing she is just one part of a child’s journey, and her reward is seeing her babies become part of a new permanent family. Then she’s ready for the next baby coming her way.
“A while back, a gentleman, who was stroking the downy head of one of my little babies, said, ‘You don’t get any closer to God than that,’”LeClair said, pleased. “Oh, he didn’t how much that meant to me.”
For adoptive parents, she is a godsend not only because she is a great help, but because she makes it easier for them to bond with their baby. Her love, patience and faith are a great example for everyone, and Providence Place is blessed to be able to count on her.