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Release date: May 29

Student maintains online ministry to those affected by miscarriage

Before she lost her first child to miscarriage in 1998, Cee Cee Almon didn't think she knew anyone who'd experienced the same loss. Just three years later, however, she literally has a world of friends connected by their similar circumstances.

Almon is a stay-at-home mom to 18-month-old Damaris and a part-time student at Wayland Baptist University. Her husband, Russell, is employed in Wayland's external programs office and is pursuing his master's degree in religion.Russell, Cee Cee, and Damaris Almon

For the past two years, Almon has served as leader and self-proclaimed "Webmomma" for an Internet support group called Christian Miscarriage Support. Using a website she developed herself, Almon is able to provide resources and support for women losing children to miscarriage or their families - no matter where they live. But Almon said finding that help hasn't always been easy.

The Almons encountered fertility problems at an early point, wanting to start their family right away after their marriage in September 1997. After surgery and other treatments, the couple finally conceived in September 1998, but miscarried shortly thereafter.

"I didn't think I knew anyone who'd had a miscarriage. Our families didn't know we were trying and when we told them, we found out both of our moms had miscarried," Almon said.

She hit the 'Net immediately, looking for information and support to help deal with the loss. Finding nothing suitable, she became frustrated. She started an email discussion group in 1999 and then started a website with general information and put it out on various search engines.

"It took off like you wouldn't believe, because there was nothing out there," she said.

The single email list group became three - divided into those who had recently miscarried, those who were unmarried and dealing with miscarriage and those who had decided to move on. The website grew as Almon added a message board, a chat room and a place to submit poetry, articles and songs. Finally, she decided to dissolve the email lists since the website had begun to duplicate those efforts. Now, the message boards and chat rooms serve to connect women, their husbands and other family members who just want to grieve with others who know what they are going through. Almon deems it a success, adding that many women come to stay and become somewhat of a family.

"When you interact with people regularly, it grows and you don't want to lose touch with those relationships," she said. "We have one lady who miscarried 25 years ago and still visits the site."

The site offers plenty of resources. Almon has a message board with categories that deal with specific situations like being unmarried, repeat miscarriages, having no living children, depression, adoption, another pregnancy or trying to conceive again. More than 850 users visit the message boards and many participate in the four scheduled chats each week.

The 200-page site includes memorials to children lost, gender neutral name lists, helpful articles and a page on how to become a Christian, which she said 10-15 people have done over the years via the site. The site is located at www.miscarriagesupport.org.

Almon taught herself all the web-building skills she possesses and does all the site maintenance herself, making many visits each day to update message boards, read and respond to email and keep information current. She also started an email newsletter for interested persons which went out May 1.

Not only is she confident the site has helped others heal, Almon says she has also been blessed. The couple miscarried again in January, but found solace in their circle of friends on the Net.

Russell said he feels the ministry is Cee Cee's calling and leaves the administrative duties to her.

"I'm mainly the theological go-to guy," he said. "If someone sends an email with questions, I can help give an answer to what they're dealing with."

The Almons are also starting a new church this month called Plainview Community Fellowship and meeting initially in their home.