After 18 months of waiting, Stephanie and Brendan Winn met their second child, a son, at the hospital for the first time on June 14, 2011.
The two had received an email a couple days earlier, asking if they would adopt a premature boy, born at 32 weeks gestation and just a little over a week old.
“Forty-eight hours later, I was holding him in my arms,” Stephanie said, looking at a crawling Matthew, now 15-months-old as he played with his 7-year-old brother, Justin.
While the Chandler family had hoped for an adoption and had specified that they would be willing to adopt a preemie, they didn’t know when to expect a child.
But Stephanie’s employer, Salt River Project – a company that has been recognized for being adoption-friendly – made the process much easier.
“The hardest part about adoption is you don’t know if it will ever happen,” Brendan said. “It’s a quiet process.”
Although the two were ready at anytime to open their home, Stephanie’s work schedule was a little fuller.
“I was in the middle of a huge project when Matthew came along,” said Stephanie, who works as a representative in SRP’s regulatory policy and public involvement department.
While Matthew spent the next seven weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, Stephanie was able to spend the mornings at the hospital with him. She continued to work part time until he was able to leave the hospital.
“It’s such a family-friendly environment,” she said of SRP. “It turns into a workplace where people get things done. Everyone was just so supportive. We really do become just like a family here.”
After he left the hospital, she was able to take another seven or eight weeks off to be with him, she said. Under the Family Medical Leave Act, any SRP parent is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave.
The benefits that Stephanie described are part of the reason why SRP currently ranks 67th in the list of adoption-friendly companies by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. In the energy and utilities sector, it ranks second nationally.
“I am so grateful for SRP,” she said. “I knew the benefits before we decided to adopt and I am so glad that it was something that had been kept.”
SRP offers $4,000 per child in adoption benefits and up to $6,000 for a special needs adoption, like Matthew’s. The company also allows adopted children to be eligible to be added to the SRP group insurance plan once they are legally placed in the home.
“There’s a lot more than just being born early,” Brendan said.
“There are a lot of unknowns that come with a preemie—medical treatments and referrals,” Stephanie added.
And while Matthew is growing and learning quickly, he still has some catching up to do, she said. In the next few years, they hope to stay on top of any medical or developmental problems Matthew may face.
Justin, who attends Kyrene del Cielo Elementary School, loves to play with his brother, he said. Mainly, they like to play chase and tackle—that is, Matthew does the tackling.
“We knew we couldn’t have anymore (children) after Justin was born, so we looked to adoption to grow our family,” Stephanie said.
“He’s a wonderful older brother who has helped out in every way,” Brendan said.
The Winns also point out that parents don’t have to look to foreign countries to adopt a child.
“People always ask me where I adopted him from,” Stephanie said. “They always seem a little surprised when I tell them Glendale.”
“There are plenty of babies here in our own Valley,” Brendan added.
Brendan, Stephanie, and Justin knew from the beginning that their family would be complete with Matthew.
“We knew he was meant to be a part of the family,” Stephanie said. “We were all born in June.”
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