Yvonne has been on the front lines of the foster care community for over a decade. She served as a foster parent for over 10 years and now works as a family specialist for a foster care agency in Tucson, Arizona. While caring exclusively for over 20 substance exposed newborns in her home, her eyes were opened to the judgement, shame and heartache the birth mothers carried while working their case plans. Her passion for this unique population led to her starting The Desert Nest, a nonprofit whose focus is to come alongside birth, foster and adoptive families, while providing training to them in the specialized care of the substance exposed newborn. In addition, she supported them as they worked their case plans by attending court hearings and team meetings, as well as providing counsel to them during their visits to the local Methadone Assisted Treatment (MAT) centers.
During the development of The Desert Nest, she worked at a hospital as the Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) Specialist. In this position she delivered education, care coordination, and provided individualized direct patient and family education to those impacted by NAS.
One of the overlapping goals of The Desert Nest and her role as the NAS Specialist was to support birth mothers from start to finish. This included meeting with them at MAT centers, taking them to their maternity well check appointments, being a point of contact at the hospital when it was time to deliver, and encouraging them to continue their services once they were home with their newborn.
Part of her passion is to grow an awareness within the foster and adoptive community, by regularly encouraging them to embrace birth families and have an open and sincere relationship while caring for their children. Her hope is to create an environment of attachment and bonding that provides healing for the families, as well as the children being cared for.
The more time Yvonne spent with birth mothers, she saw wounds and trauma they had been carrying their whole lives which kept them from the freedom necessary to successfully accomplish their case plans. This realization led her to explore her own story and earn a Narrative Focus Trauma Care certification from The Allender Center. In her process of healing, she realized her own worth and dignity, and began to ask herself the questions, “where are you coming from, where are you now, and where are you going?”. This framework helps her point these women to their purpose, revealing that their hearts and story are worthy of redemption.
Yvonne has been married to Mark, her high school sweetheart, for over 25 years and they have 6 children, 3 biological and 3 adopted (two through foster care and one international). She loves living in Tucson, hiking the mountains among the native Saguaro cactus and any time spent on a warm beach with her family.