The Cradle Blog

Walrath Family VIRTUAL Gathering

 “Family is not defined by our genes; it is built and maintained through love”

The Cradle’s founder Florence Dahl Walrath knew this to be true and worked tirelessly throughout her life to help couples grow their families through adoption.  Mrs. Walrath came to adoption through a personal encounter when her sister lost a child at birth. She put her wits, as well as her sympathies, to work and found a child whose mother was compelled by circumstance to place her baby with an adoptive family.  Because of Mrs. Walrath’s success in this endeavor, other childless couples she knew asked for her help and The Cradle was founded in Evanston in 1923.

Part of our work at The Cradle is to foster a sense of relationship and community for all touched by adoption regardless of geography.  Last November, after speaking to a Walrath family member we agreed it was high time the Walrath family met to honor The Cradle’s remarkable founder and family matriarch.

Over Zoom on November 19, fourteen members of Florence Walrath’s extended family came together from around the world to share memories of their "Mama Florence" as she was known to many.  Several family members met for the first time and enjoyed recounting stories and reliving memories.  Nancy Sanborn, Mrs. Walrath’s great grandaughter said, “Getting together with so many descendants of Florence Walrath was a real treat for me.  My dad was a grandson of Mrs. Walrath, a son of her daughter Helen.  While I know my own family as well as members of my dad's family and their families, I had met only one of the descendants of Mrs. Walrath's other three children.  The Zoom call was a wonderful opportunity to meet each other, hear from those who have memories of Mrs. Walrath and learn more about The Cradle, including how adoption and the work of The Cradle have evolved since its founding.  I'm looking forward to other opportunities to get together and, in particular, meeting in person to help celebrate The Cradle's 100th anniversary!”

Kim Perez, Cradle President & CEO and Simone Wheeler, VP of Development enjoyed a wonderful afternoon with the Walrath family learning more about The Cradle’s intrepid founder and in turn sharing what Mrs. Walrath was able to achieve in starting The Cradle.  Both Kim and Simone are working to plan The Cradle’s centennial and look forward extending a warm welcome not only the Walrath family but everyone with a Cradle connection from around the world.  

If you have memories of The Cradle you would like to share, please e-mail swheeler@cradle.org and your story may be featured in an upcoming newsletter or e-blast to our Cradle community.