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The Healing Power of Skin-to-Skin Contact for Biological and Adoptive Parents

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

The Parents of the Year award goes to Edie and Chip!

Edie and Chip and their family

This husband and wife team have five biological children and four adopted children. Their story is a testament to their big hearts, the strength of a parent’s love, and the importance of early attachment.

While raising their own children, Edie and Chip also intermittently fostered for ten years. They began fostering Danielle when she was four months old, and then her little brother, Nolan, less than a year later. Danielle and Nolan both needed special care because they experienced drug withdrawals and had a difficult start to life. They were officially adopted three years later, after the foster to adoption process was finally complete.

A couple of years later, the mother of Danielle and Nolan called Edie to tell her she was pregnant again and IN LABOR. She pleaded with Edie to come and get her baby so that she would not go into the system. At this point Edie and Chip had six children, and Edie had just suffered a miscarriage. With no time to think or plan, Edie hopped on a plane to be present for the birth of Piper, Danielle and Nolan’s sister. Piper and her birth mother had no prenatal care during the pregnancy, so when Piper was born she needed a lot of extra attention. Despite her need for medical care, the doctors knew that what Piper needed most was skin-to-skin contact and time to bond with her new mom. Immediately after birth, Piper was placed directly on Edie’s chest to practice skin-to-skin contact for over 90 minutes.

Edie describes that time as essential to her strong attachment to Piper and Piper's attachment to her. For the next three weeks Piper had to stay at the hospital and Edie stayed with her and practiced skin-to-skin contact around the clock to help her bond and recover from drug withdrawal. Edie credits the frequent skin-to-skin contact as one of the reasons the doctors were able to take Piper off morphine and finally send her home. Although Piper is not biologically her daughter, Edie said that she feels that way because of the time they spent bonding skin-to-skin.

Piper was born on November 17th, the due date of Edie’s previous pregnancy that resulted in a miscarriage. Piper’s addition to their family was meant to be.

Piper experienced tremors and other symptoms of drug withdrawal for over eight months. During this time Edie frequently practiced skin-to-skin contact to help her recover and relax.

“Skin-to-skin contact was the one thing that helped Piper through withdrawal,” Edie said.

Three years later, Chip and Edie adopted their 8th child, Ben. Ben was the first baby they adopted who was healthy and did not experience drug withdrawal. The week that Edie brought Ben home she found out she was pregnant.

At 31 weeks pregnant, Edie went into preterm labor with Maren.

After a difficult c-section, Edie could not hold Maren for three days because after delivery Edie had a seizure. Edie shared how difficult this time apart was because she knew how much Maren needed her and the pandemic severely limited the help she was allowed to receive in the hospital. Maren had to stay in the NICU for two weeks, during which time Edie and Chip took turns holding her and practicing skin-to-skin contact. This helped Edie and Maren make up for lost time. Edie’s devoted care, constant attention and frequent skin-to-skin contact helped both Maren and Edie recover from their traumatic experience. Maren was only three pounds when she was born and four pounds when she left the hospital.

When asked about the benefits of skin-to-skin contact with both Piper and Maren, Edie explained how each situation was unique, and that each daughter needed the close attachment that skin-to-skin contact provides for different reasons.

“Other than the scientifically proven benefits for my babies, such as latching, temperature regulation, and higher blood oxygen levels, skin-to-skin contact eased my own anxieties of not being ready, or the fear that they won’t know me, for fostering reasons and from missing the initial contact with Maren for her first 3 days.”

Edie recommends this important practice to all new parents, adoptive and biological, because it was so rewarding and healing for her and her kids.

Black and white photo of Edie, Chip and family

“Their warmth against mine pushed all doubt aside and was the absolutely most calming and healing part of their traumatic entrances into the world for both of us.”


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