They Shall Weep No More: A Mother's Right To Know

My name is Athena Pearl Riley. On December 8, 2017, my beautiful and precious son, Baby Franklin, died during an attempted, full-term, out-of-hospital delivery under the supervision of a midwife. Life as my husband and I once knew it ceased to exist, and dark clouds engulfed our souls where sun rays of hope once gleamed. Our hearts were shattered into a million tiny pieces, and our tears flowed endlessly amidst our numb and empty gazes.

Unbeknownst to us, families across the nation had been suffering the exact same fate as ours. The eerie similarities of our experiences, along with the unbearably painful void in our lives, left us all solemnly professing, “If only we knew then what we know now”. While it’s too late for our children, and for the mothers who have lost their own lives during an attempted out-of-hospital delivery, it’s not too late to share vital information that will help to save the lives of others. 

Three nationally award-winning journalists from GateHouse Media set out to uncover the hidden truths of the midwifery industry that has managed to go uninvestigated for decades, and has left a trail of devastated families and preventable deaths in its path.

Through nearly a decade of research collected from the Centers for Disease Control  - which contained federal data from millions of live births and related deaths - and by interviewing more than one hundred mothers, midwives, physicians, attorneys, lawmakers, and researchers, in addition to reviewing disciplinary reports, lawsuits and scientific studies, these journalists uncovered a shocking truth that most parents never know until it’s too late:  that U.S. babies are twice as likely to die during delivery — or within a month after — when born at home or in a freestanding birth center as babies born at a hospital. Babies delivered at home by midwives are three times more likely to die than those delivered by hospital midwives and the odds get even worse for first-time mothers. 

Now, a fervent and rapidly growing community across the nation, which includes doctors, midwives, medical malpractice attorneys, journalists, bloggers, parents who have lost their children under the supervision of an out-of-hospital midwife, and the extraordinary communities that support them, have built incredible momentum in order to provide education, transparency, and knowledge that all families deserve to have in order to make fully informed decisions about their birthing experience. 

Good and bad exists in every industry, and the midwifery one is no exception. Midwives can be an integral part of our society, especially in truly rural communities, and not all midwives are bad - but some bad ones have proven to be deadly. Trusting parents have found themselves sold on a dream of attaining the perfect birthing experience, while fears towards what can often be an already imperfect hospital industry have been strategically and simultaneously instilled within them.

Mothers and fathers have a right to know and to be provided with accurate information so that they may make truly informed decisions on where to birth their child, be it in a hospital, birthing center, or at home. 

In honor of our son, and for the many other children and mothers who have lost their lives under the supervision of an out-of-hospital midwife, my husband and I created a pending 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called "Franklin's Tree House Foundation, Inc." and have spent over a year reaching out to, and working with, various resources across the nation, including investigative journalists from GateHouse Media, medical and legal experts, and other parents who have suffered an unimaginable loss, in order to gather accurate statistics and data and to discuss these preventable deaths and the ways in which we can all help to protect both mother and child.

Our pending non-profit is also uniting with our local foster care organization called "Children in Crisis" to provide children with experiences that we were prepared and excited to provide to our own son throughout his life. We have called this program "Confident Kids!", where, coupled with community volunteers, we will take our local foster children on day field trips to the beach, fishing, camping etc., while providing curriculum that will instill confidence and leadership skills within them along the way. Our program will be held the first Saturday of the month beginning October 2019. 


1) DONATE. Click on the video above to watch the three-minute highlight reel of the 2019 Delivering Action Summit ( ) and donate today to help us raise funds for all efforts to protect and educate parents, including 1) Hosting the 2020 Delivering Action Summit 2) Establishing policies throughout the state that will help to protect both mother and child under the supervision of an out-of-hospital midwife 3) Ensuring that every hospital and clinic in Florida has a detailed home birth pamphlet to provide to inquiring parents, and 4) Establishing the "Confident Kids!" program with our local foster house.   A very special thank you to our Destin, FL videographer, Jake Dillard, for creating such an amazing highlight reel, and to Katie's House of Flowers, NextHome White Sands Realty, Walton County Tourist Development Council, Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort and the many others who contributed to making the 2019 Delivering Action Summit a success! 

2) SHARE. Share this GoFundMe link on all of your social media sites to help us reach as many people as possible.

3) DISCOVER. Discover, and become educated on, the unknown issues surrounding out-of-hospital births under the supervision of a midwife by reading "Failure to Deliver", a captivating and nationally award-winning article by GateHouse Media's investigative journalists Josh Salman, Emily Le Coz & Lucille Sherman.

4) VISIT. Visit  for additional information and resources on out-of-hospital births, and visit  for additional information on the 2019 Delivering Action Summit, along with information on the "Confident Kids!" program, and sign up to become a volunteer. 

5) CONNECT. Connect by posting #FailureToDeliver and #DeliveringAction on your social media sites to help spread the word and create awareness on these important issues. 

We appreciate all of the love and support you are able to give, and look forward to ensuring the safety and education of our mothers and children. Together, we can make a difference. 

Donations (28)

  • Leah Enright
    • $150 
    • 4 yrs


Athena Pearl Riley
Destin, FL

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