Meet Kennedy Rose.
In September 2015, the Miss America pageant was being held. Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson, shed the norm by performing a monologue for the talent portion of the show, and came out on stage wearing her nurse’s scrubs and a stethoscope. She spoke eloquently about her love of nursing, and the patient that she would never forget. Her patient, Joe, reminded her that her “talent” was nursing. Nurses who heard her speak related to remembering “that ONE patient” that you will never forget, that reminded you of why you do the things you do, why you lose sleep, sacrifice family time, go above and beyond to comfort and care those that need it.The response the next day? On The View, a daily talk show, the clip of Miss Colorado in scrubs and stethoscope was played, to the derogatory comments of the TV personalities. “Can you believe she did THAT? Is she wearing a costume? And “Why is she wearing a DOCTOR’S stethoscope” Nurses across the US and the globe reacted the comments like they were slapped across the face.
A Costume? A Doctor’s stethoscope? 3 million nurses in the US alone- were aghast at those comments. Worldwide outrage. The reaction of nurses, and all healthcare providers who wore stethoscopes, was swift and strong. Support from other stethoscope wearing professions joined in- EMTs, RRTs, Paramedics, even Doctors and Surgeons, defending the dignity of nurses everywhere.
Janie Harvey Garner, a nurse in St. Louis Missouri, was just as shocked as the rest of the nursing world about the treatment of Miss Colorado and decided to start a response on Facebook. Since she was from Missouri, The Show Me State, she titled her group “Show Me Your Stethoscope, encouraging nurses and all who wore them to boldly, proudly wear their “costume” and “doctors stethoscope” in response to the criticism.
Show me your stethoscope (SMYS) inspired many responses from nurses, RN’s, LPN’s, CNA’s, etc. They posted alone, in groups, with classmates, with their team of doctors, nurses, aides. Commenting on how much they were proud of their stethoscopes and the nursing profession. Regular people, family members of nurses posted, patients posted who described the amazing nurse that cared for them. Some posts were amusing- “I hope someone comes to show me how to use my doctors stethoscope”, with nurses absurdly auscultating each other’s foreheads instead of hearts. “I couldn’t find a nurse’s stethoscope, so I hope I can use this Doctors stethoscope ok”. One amazing surgeon posted about how his nurses needed stethoscopes more than he did. Another wrote beautifully about nurses being the extension of his arm, part of his team, working together. Nurses from around the world posted photos and comments with their support, from Arabia, the Philippines, Australia, the UK, Africa- from all 6 continents, countless countries, all rallying in support of nurses.
Janie’s SMYS Facebook group grew quickly- 50,000 members in a day, 100,000 the next. In 5 days the group reached 800,000 members.
The backlash towards the View was strong- companies suspended advertising during the show. Johnson and Johnson, Kimberly Clark, and many more, to support nurses. The View apologized… or tried to. And then apologized again. After all was said and done, SMYS was still standing, with 800,000 members. International members. Representing all levels of nursing practice.
This may not seem like a big deal- nurses are pretty united, right? Surprisingly, the different levels and roles of nurses are not so united. RNs and LPNs have separate associations. Long term Care Nurses are often looked down on by Hospital floor nurses. Nurse’s Aides often don’t feel respected. Advanced Practice Nurses have their own issues and associations as well. So none of these different groups of nurses have ever been united before supporting ONE issue. And the View gave them that issue.
Many nurses have never felt the pride and support that they received from reading the posts on that page. LPNs, RNs, CNAs. EMTs, RRTs, MDs, all united for a common cause- to support nurses. They had never seen anything like it. Everyone put the political and inter-nursing disputes away for a beautiful moment. And we all remembered that above all, we were nurses. Since September, SMYS has continued to build on that enthusiasm and strength, that cohesiveness that the nursing community has never had. They didn’t align with any one union or association. They developed a mission statement that was for ALL Nurses. Accepting and inclusive. That isn’t to say there weren’t bumps along the way.
Janie managed to find amazing volunteer admins to moderate the incredibly busy group, keep the spam and bots under control, and meld the group into something cohesive and powerful. She build a Board of Directors, and then a nationwide group of representatives, and global reps as well.
But let me tell you about Janie. Janie was a longtime nurse who experienced devastation 5 years ago when her 17 year old son Alex was hit by a truck. She received that late night phone call that no parent ever wants to receive. Since Alex’s death, Janie withdrew from the world, battled depression, was suicidal, and was only a shell of a person. For 5 years she went through the motions of life, of living.
That day in September that Janie heard the comments on the View, something happened. She created a group about nurses. And nursing saved her. Janie began to feel alive again, passionate about a cause, and really began LIVING again. Who brought who to life you ask?
I say both.
But to get back to Baby Kennedy….
In Michigan, a nurse named Brian and his fiancee Brad, bought a house and decided to try to adopt to build their family. Private adoption costs seemed overwhelming, so they began looking into Foster Care. They went through the evaluation process, and were approved to be Foster Parents. In May 2015, they brought home 5 month old Little Miss. They were assured by the Agency that her parents were terminating their rights, and Brian and Brad thought their family was finally created. But just one day later, they learned that the biological parents were going to work their plan for reunification of the family, and Little Miss would not be a permanent part of their family, and in fact would be only with them for a few months.
The roller coaster ride to build their family that Brian and Brad rode was giving more twists and turns. Realizing that adoption may be their best option, they began fundraising and started a Facebook page about their journey to become a family. There were a few false alarms that didn’t work out- a miscarriage, a change of plans…
In February it occurred to Brian that this amazing Nursing group he was in, SMYS, may be helpful- maybe one of these nurses knew of a baby being put up for adoption. So they posted their story in SMYS.
They received some negative responses, but persevered- thinking if this helps them to find their baby, they could handle it. Administrators for the group reached out to them to help monitor the post and delete any negative comments. The decision to allow their call to action was made by the group of Administrators, as a gesture of love and inclusiveness.
And then, a message came- a midwife in SMYS had a pregnant mom who wanted to give her baby up for adoption. Brian and Brad gave their adoption agency’s info, but didn’t want to get their hopes up again- they had been dashed so often. The adoption agency never contacted them, so they thought, another chance that didn’t work out. Another turn on the roller coaster their lives had become.
A few weeks later, in early March, just 4 weeks after they posted in SMYS. Little Miss’s time with Brian and Brad was coming to an end, she was returning to her biological parents that weekend. Feeling down, and visiting his mother, Brian was asked about the SMYS midwife contact. He thought the pregnant mother would be approaching her due date any day now and wondered about her. Then his phone rang– it was the midwife from SMYS. The pregnant mom went into labor, but didn’t have an adoptive family picked out for the baby. It turns out, she contacted the Agency but never heard back. The midwife and pregnant mom remembered Brian and Brad, and reached out to see if there was a possibility of making this connection happen.
Brian remembers sitting in his mom’s house in a daze- needing to make split second decisions and figure out what to do. He contacted an adoption attorney and he and Brad made the scariest decision of their lives. Brad remained behind to transition Little Miss back to her parents, and say a tearful and devastated goodbye to her. Brian jumped in the car at 7pm at night and drove 12 hours straight to meet this potential new family member. When he arrived, he met the midwife, mother, and new little baby Kennedy Rose. After 48 hours, the papers were signed and it was official. Kennedy Rose was the newest member of their family. They had a daughter. Brad flew down and they spent 2 weeks finalizing details. The midwife and new family grew so close, that Brad, Brian and Kennedy stayed with her for the remainder of their time there.
They packed up to return home to Michigan, the 3 of them. Papers signed, adoption finalized, and began to drive home. One of the first cities they passed through- St. Louis Missouri, home of Jane Harvey Garner.
When the news broke on SMYS about their adoption, the joy was shared around the group, many felt as if they were 800,000 honorary aunties and uncles for little Kennedy.
Even Miss Colorado heard the news and sent her congratulations to the happy family. Who knew such divisive statements by naive TV hosts could bring together 800,000 nurses, revive a broken nurse who had lost her son, and create one beautiful family.
Miss Kennedy Rose will be 6 months old at the wedding of Brian and Brad in October. Her final court date for the adoption will be the week before the wedding. Sounds like there will be much to celebrate this fall.
We were honored to be a small part of the construction of their new, lovely family. Best wishes, Dads. Enjoy this beautiful new light in your life.
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