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National Adoption Awareness Month 2021

05 Nov, 2021

by Jennie Risley

Hello! We are AdoptionWorks, a small child-placing agency in Dallas, Texas. We offer a full range of pre-adoptive and post-adoptive services to the entire adoption triad. With over 50 years of experience, we feel confident that we have a lot to bring to the table. However, with longevity in this work, comes accountability to continue learning and growing in order to best serve all members of the adoption triad. Our services include case management and education to both expectant and hopeful adoptive families, clinical counseling services for the entire triad, and true post-adoption and post-placement care for the entire triad. Want to know more? Visit our page, or follow along during National Adoption Awareness Month post a day.

“Watch your language!” Anyone out there grow up hearing that for words that seemed so harmless? I know I did…still can’t say “stupid” without looking over my shoulder for my mother. But the phrase “watch your language” never had more meaning than it does for me now as an adoption professional. Language is deeply connected to culture, time, history, geography, and emotion. It is the way words come together to express the expansive range of the human experience. Adoption has been bombarded with language that carries with it a legacy of loss as well as love. It has been one-sided or weighed down by ignorance. It has limited the complexity of adoption. For too long our adoption language created more harm than it did understanding and safety. So today I say to each of us with conviction and kindness, “watch our language.” Listen to the voices of adoptees before we assign weighted words, demeaning definitions, and false phrases. Listen, so we can adapt and use language that is affirming; respectful of all sides of the adoption relationship with its unlimited spectrum of experiences. Listen and watch your language.

Here at AdoptionWorks, we don’t even use the word “adoption” until our client does. Our goal is to provide a safe environment for mothers to process their feelings. Our job is to help them explore the reality of their options. The testimony below from Momma Mary is dear to our hearts, because we believe we did our job well. Read her feelings about “options” and marvel at the beauty of her motherhood.

“‘I support your decision.’ Everyone needs a person to say this to them. It is especially important for women when they are pregnant. But, a woman cannot make a decision without options. I received a surprise gift. At the time, I didn’t see my little boy as a gift. I was afraid. I didn’t even have a stable income, I didn’t know if his father will stay, and even if he did, he just left his job to focus on school.

I explored abortion, adoption, free women clinics, government assistance options, a new job. It was a rollercoaster because I was truly going to have an abortion, until I couldn’t. I was truly going to give him up for adoption, until I couldn’t. I was truly going to keep him and raise him myself because that I could do. Options are so important during those 9 months because it helps you get to know where you are in life, what your heart desires, and what is best for you and that developing little human inside of you.”

Adoption is hard. We recognize as professionals there are places we cannot speak to. So we encourage, highly encourage, each of our clients to find community on their journey.

Our Knee to Knee support group is one of our favorite services to proudly offer. Check out this testimony from one of our lovely mommas. A big thanks to her for sharing her story. You are doing good work.

If you are a birth mother, we invite you to join us on the fourth Thursday night of each month, to learn more call or text 214-952-7421.

My journey as a Birth Mom started 30 years ago.  Back then, I didn’t have the language or the words that I have now. What I  knew then was that I am his Momma, his other Momma. The Momma and Daddy I chose for him are now his parents.  I had friends and family that supported my choice and were on this journey with me, but again, I didn’t have the language to describe this branch on my tree of life.  I have two friends that are also birth moms and although we are in the same sisterhood, the language we use and our needs are different. That is where being in Community comes in.  There is a scripture in the Bible. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 that reminds me, why Community is important. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.: There are two things that stand out to me, two are better than one, that means I am not supposed to do life alone. A good return on my labor. That tells me I am supposed to do the work. When I do the work, good will return to me. So it is not just about what I need as a Birth Mom, but giving to other Birth Moms.  This is why Community for me is important. We cannot do life alone. Not as women, sisters, daughters, friends, and especially not as Birth Moms.  All of our stories and experiences are different yet oh so similar and because of that, it was important for me to get into, create and stay in Community not only as a Birth Mom but as a woman. We learn from each other, support and encourage each other. Thirty years ago, I didn’t have a Birth Mom community, and now I do and because of that, I can sow seeds of love and support into other Birth Mom’s and together we can and will change the language and narrative for Birth Mom’s to come.

What do you think of when you hear the word birth? Does that word take you back to the hospital on the day you brought your precious baby into this world? Does that word bring hard or sad thoughts due to a difficult delivery or child loss?

In the world of adoption, the word birth has a few meanings. In this community, the word birth is often placed in front of mom or dad to denote the first families of the adoptive child. For example, a mom who places her child for adoption is often referred to as a “birth mom.”

The word birth is also used in the traditional way, describing the moment the baby arrives in this world.

As a mom to both a biological daughter and an adopted daughter, I have experienced birth from a few different perspectives.  I was obviously present on the day my biological daughter was born. She was born with severe health issues, so she was immediately taken for medical procedures. I barely got to see her and I definitely did not get to hold her.  Her birth brought joy as well as tremendous anxiety. That day was not filled with precious time together.  We found out about our second daughter after the fact that she was born. We knew a few details of her birth, but were once again, not there to bond and love on her. I honestly have very little connection to her day of birth. However, as an adoptive mother, I think about that day often.  How was our daughter’s mom feeling?  How was the birth process? What moments did she and our daughter share?

I can’t even pretend to imagine how these moms feel. I am in awe of the strength they show during these incredibly challenging times to bring these precious babies into the world.  I understand the term “birth mom” and even use it in my descriptions to our daughter and others; however, these precious women are so much more. The first families to these adoptees are their roots, the key to their history, and are forever bonded by a love and connection that is different than ours.  It is our job as the adoptive parents to show that respect. It is our duty to be grateful, loving, kind, and understanding.  We need to be respectful of the wishes of the birth mom on that day. Whether or not we, as adoptive parents, are at the “birth” of our child, we must consider the tremendous impact that moment has on the first family and on our child.

The elevation of adoptee voices is such a crucial aspect of this month. We can do this through listening and reading. One of the books we love sharing is a memoir of adoptee voices collected by adoptee Elena S. Hall titled “Through Adopted Eyes.” Today we are highlighting some quotes from this memoir about “family.”

“I hate when people say, ‘oh your adopted parents aren’t your real parents.’ It’s ridiculous. I agree there is family and birth family. My family has given me the world, and I consider them my family.” -Elena

“Anyhow, being adopted means that I have proof that true, familial love can be formed in non-traditional families…” -Hailey

“My foster family had always felt like family to me, and I felt unconditionally loved by them. Since then, foster care has always been on my heart…I wanted to have the chance to have kids in our house and have them know that they are loved and cherished no matter how long they are with us.” -Jake

And 6-year-old Sophie answered the following questions:

What is the best thing about being adopted? “Having a family.”

What do you wish you knew?

“I wish I knew where my Ethiopian family was.”

Family is from birth, from circumstances, and from choices. It’s DNA and more than DNA. It’s love and more than love. In adoption, one family experiences a loss for another to grow and a child feels the pull of both experiences…family means finding a place to belong even while you feel the loss.

Check out adoptee advocate Elena S. Hall through her books: Through Adopted Eyes and Through Adopted Hearts and her social media @throughafoptedeyes

Exploitation: the act of making use of and benefiting from resources.

The fact this word is rooted in the history of adoption is disgraceful. Because the definition of the word implies that human beings, created in the image of God, are a resource from which there is something to benefit from monetarily.

It is hard to look at some of the history surrounding adoption. It is hard to look at some of the ways adoption is currently happening.

As adoption professionals, we recognize it is important to educate ourselves in the history of adoption, listen to the voices of the triad that have been both positively and negatively impacted, and work even harder to improve how adoption takes place within our agency.

Did you know that Texas is still legally a “closed adoption” state? Meaning when an adoption is finalized in the courts in Texas, all of the records, including the adoptee’s original birth certificate with biological family names and information on it, is sealed. An adult adoptee would have to petition the court to be granted access to their own birth certificate!

While some of you reading this may have a jaw drop reaction, know that adoption was once so shrouded in secrecy that most adoptive parents knew absolutely nothing about the child’s history they adopted.

We have come a long way, but there is still much work to be done. Here at AW, we tell parents openness does exist on a spectrum, but we do not practice closed adoptions. We offer as much information to the expectant and adoptive families as we can to create an environment of openness. This process has to begin with setting realistic and transparent expectations from the moment each party comes to the table.

One day, we hope adoptees have legal access to their biological information that is rightfully theirs. Until then, we will fight for and stand for the one member of the triad who absolutely had no voice in the adoption planning process, the child, by offering openness in our adoption planning process.


Today’s prompt brings up a lot of feelings for members of the triad. So, we asked an expert. Ereka Howard is an adult adoptee who now uses her voice and her experience in powerful ways to educate and minister to triad members. Here at AW, we know Ereka because she volunteers her time in our Post Adoption Support Group, usually working with our teen adoptees as they wrestle with their adoption narrative. If you want to learn more about Ereka, follow her on social media or visit her website! Thank you Ereka for your vulnerability and your willingness to use your voice!

Personally, my adoption feelings in regards to loyalty means that I have to be loyal to not only my family but myself as well. Loyalty means that a promise has been made and cannot be broken no matter what happens in life. Adoptive parents made an oath to remain loyal to the child that was adopted. Loyalty comes with twists and turns such as mistrust and abandonment. As an adoptee, when loyalty is broken, mistrust sneaks in along with feelings of abandonment.

Depending on the situation, I feel that when loyalty is broken, so is the bond. Once the bond is broken, that’s when we begin to feel like we don’t belong and in return, we regress instead of making progress. Loyalty means a lot to us adoptees.

Loyalty helps us grow.

IG: MsErekaHoward_fanpage

FB: Ms. Ereka Howard

Twitter: ErekaHCOACH



Parenthood is full of unexpected circumstances. Becoming a parent through adoption very rarely looks how any parent thought it would. Thank you to the W family for sharing some of their thoughts with us.

“Two years ago this week, we got the call that changed our lives forever. We had been a waiting family for a while and we were getting a little hopeless. As a waiting family you “feel” like parents already in a way. So, when we got the call that he [our son] was born and his birth mom wanted to make an adoption plan immediately, we were overwhelmed with so many feelings.

We were amazed how quickly we fell in love with him and how we felt a connection right away. To this day we are amazed that he is in our life. And that God chose us to be his parents. We try to be mindful, even at 2 years old, about how to help Luke understand that he is adopted and has a birth mom out there. Our birth mom isn’t in our lives currently but we pray for her and pray for a relationship with her in the future.

When we started the adoption process you think you know how things are going to turn out. I (Adoptive Mom) thought we would meet the mom and we would spend time with her before [the adoptive placement] and get to know her a little. But that hasn’t happened yet, and I grieve this. I grieve the relationship that we thought we would have with her.

We pray about what age-appropriate conversations we are going to have in the future when he asks questions about her and his family. We pray that God guides us in His wisdom to help our son feel loved and comforted in the years to come.

There are many emotions that come with adopting a child. Happiness, joy, fear, guilt, loss, but we look ahead and we chose hope and gratitude.”


Education is one of the requirements for adoption through an agency. Good education is a crucial first step but also a crucial part of the journey for every next stage and experience. At AdoptionWorks, we provide an ongoing education and support opportunity by hosting a free post-adopt support group where adoptees and their parents gain new knowledge, affirm what they already know, and prepare for what may come next. Some of our recent participants had this to say about their adoption feelings on education:

“Unfortunately, adoptive parents have driven the adoption narrative for far too long.  One of the best sources of adoption education comes from amplifying and listening to the voice of the adult adoptee and honoring their lived experiences.”

“As adoptive parents, we realized early in our child’s life that we had to prioritize our own adoption education in order to provide the best home for our child. We couldn’t just rely on the book we read during our foster agency training. Just like children’s developmental stages are dynamic and ever-evolving, so is trauma-informed adoption education. Dedicating time to educating ourselves allows us to be better parents for our child.”

“We wish we would have realized sooner that the education we received about the initial stages…bringing them home, early childhood, was not all we would need. You have to constantly be learning for each stage you enter into with them.”


There was a time when the adoption narrative was “love is enough”…but what love? The love of the adoptive parents? The love of the birth family? The love part of the dichotomy for the adoptee of loving and hurting within the same relationship? There is no simple answer but one thing we know for sure is it takes ALL the love and more and that love needs room to grow, change, and adapt as the adoptee claims their own experiences and love for the life they did not choose. One of our families was deeply challenged by the expectation of openness and loving their future child’s birth family. Their anxious “what ifs” were loud until the day they met their child’s birth mother and love began to grow…here is their story:

“Our open adoption journey was especially unique and uniquely short. We got to meet Mama V, her birth mother, and 25 days later our sweet baby girl was born. Love’s role, and God’s presence in the process, was specific and tangible. Love allowed me, her adoptive mom, to be in the room during her birth. I thought I knew love until I held her in my arms. I remember my husband wondering if he could love her enough and in that moment realized he’d take on the world for her. Love is unselfish, as is adoption. It was the great love of her birth parents which allowed our lives to intertwine. We have been blessed that both Mama V and Daddy M have been involved and we’ve continued to update them and have face-to-face visits. We have a special love in our hearts for them and speak of them often with our daughter so that her love for them can also grow as that relationship continues to develop.

Love and open adoption, go hand in hand. A mother has a great love for her child to trust another family to raise her and to be willing to keep the door of communication open. From the first time we met Mama V to our most recent visit with Daddy M, love has continued to grow and expand in all directions. God’s love has blessed our family with this incredible gift.”


Did you know AdoptionWorks is a ministry of an organization called ChristianWorks for Children? Our AW work is just a small piece of everything this organization does in the DFW community. We are very intentional with piecing together a board of members with diverse backgrounds and experiences and are regularly challenging ourselves to have different voices on our board. Our board does include some adoptive parents and, prayerfully, one day will include other members of the triad as God leads them our way! Thank you to Mr. Michael Sanderson for telling us why he serves on our board of directors and why it is important to view our work as work unto the Lord and not unto men. It really does change things!

“Like many young couples, my wife and I struggled through years of infertility. The pain is very private, heart-wrenching, and expensive!   After 6 years of emotional ups and downs, God led us to build our family through the adoption process.

We have been blessed with two children adopted at birth in the US, and a third child adopted as a toddler from Ethiopia, all through different agencies. Our amazing journey has taken 20 years so far and has led us to encounter hundreds of adoptees, adoptive parents, agencies, professionals, attorneys, and more. In fact, I now serve on the Board of Directors for ChristianWorks for Children, and my wife is heavily involved in fundraising activities.

The reason we love CWC is because of our faith journey. We’ve seen the good, bad, and ugly side of the adoption process. Some agencies and attorneys, unfortunately, treat adoption as a for-profit enterprise. In our experience, when profits are put ahead of Christ’s desire for healthy, whole families, everyone suffers.

We’ve experienced the drastic difference in professional skills and, more importantly, heart motivation between the agencies we’ve used. Our experience has been affirmed by the hundreds of other families we’ve met over the years. Bottom line, when Christ is the focus, families win.

Adoption is a challenge- for the birth parents, adoptive parents, and of course the children. Without the proper training and Christ-centered love, everyone suffers. I’m so proud of CWC, where we have invested in the right people, processes, and tools to help navigate through this difficult journey.

I pray you will experience the difference for yourselves.”


Listening to adoptee voices is VITAL in this work. Today, we are going to allow the art to speak for itself.

This is a result of some work done in session given the prompt, “ My adoption feelings on isolation.”

Thank you to this very brave soul for realizing, people need to know, and being willing to share something so vulnerable with us.


In a world where so many view the woman carrying her child as a commodity, we strive to view her as exactly what she is. A woman. A person who needs to know someone is in her corner.

Yes, we are an adoption agency, but we are so much more. Yes, we have a “waiting list” of families that have been educated, vetted, and are hopeful to adopt. But they know we don’t find babies for families. We have families willing to stand in the gap if they are needed.

We also provide other services. Counseling with licensed professionals. Materials assistance and parenting classes. True post-placement care for women who have made a placement plan. More than that, we show up. We listen. We do the hard work.

What a world would it be, if the agency was considered the commodity for the women and families in unplanned pregnancies?


A big piece of practicing ethical adoption and foster care is ensuring your families are receiving not only education but also access to clinical support through professional counseling. The highs and lows of being in the child welfare system can cause trauma and grief within the foster or adoptive family dynamic. Perhaps one of the most interesting perspectives to consider of foster parenting: if foster care is “successful” there will be grief involved for the foster family. Thank you to this foster and hopeful adoptive parent for sharing their thoughts and educating those who just don’t quite understand the celebration that is family preservation.

If you are a foster or adoptive parent needing the support of a licensed mental health professional that is competent in the areas of child welfare we can help!

“In the U.S., laws in all states require that state agencies make family preservation or reunification a top priority when a child welfare crisis arises. At times, this emphasis can feel confusing and counter-intuitive for us as foster or prospective adoptive parents—especially when friends and family believe anything short of adoption is failure for the child involved. However, if you’ve been in the foster or adoption space long, you’ve likely witnessed how profound a biological connection can be. Even when a child is meeting a relative for the first time, so much about that little one suddenly makes sense when brought face to face with their first family. People who instantly know that of course this child can’t get enough pizza and loves to play soccer—so does his brother! You’ve seen and hopefully experienced the infectious joy of a family reunified and redeemed—a joy that helps carry you through when your role in their life is completed. And, perhaps, you’ve also witnessed the heartache and tragedy when this outcome cannot be.

When the biological family cannot be preserved in the purest sense of the word, I pray our adopted children would still know their families, their cultures, and their stories to the highest degree possible. I pray we wouldn’t give up on preservation because someone else has deemed it unattainable but that we would continue to fight for the rights of our children and their first families. And I pray that we would view this fight not as intimidating or threatening but as a worthy and noble pursuit of healing for each and every person involved.”


What a buzzword this has become in the adoption community. It is important we discuss how to ethically practice adoption. It would be such a miracle if there was not a need for adoption, but we know, that there will be a need for healthy and sustainable placement options because we live in a broken world. Who is the ultimate authority on ethical adoption practice? Is it the State’s family code? Federal laws? Surely not! We know there is a major difference between what is LEGAL and what is ETHICAL.

Here at AW, we view every person we sit across from as an image-bearer of God the Father. We are here to say this lens is the foundation of practicing ethical adoption. That mom sitting across the table, terrified, uncertain, and feeling insecure? Made in the image of God. That precious tiny little baby? Made in the image of God. That father, wrestling with what is right for his child? Made in the image of God. The hopeful adoptive couple in need of education and support? Made in the image of God.

We seek to glorify God in all we do. Our goal is to show the goodness of God to all of our clients. This means when each person walks away from interaction with us, they feel seen, heard, valued, and loved. That is the beginning of ethics.

There is more we can say, but this is where we start.


“We are neurobiologically designed to be in relationship” – Dr. Bruce Perry.

If you are a believer, this quote probably is not earth-shattering. From the very beginning, God saw it was not fit for man to be alone, and he created a help mate,  a partner for man to do life with. His design is flawless.

As believers, who are mental health professionals AND adoption professionals, we love it when science reaches a conclusion already founded in scripture. It is another avenue for us to show the goodness of Christ to those we serve.

Our bodies, our beings, crave relationship. We crave it with those biologically related to us, we crave it with friends, with our children, with those we love. It is the way we are created and designed.

Trust is built through relationship. Our hope and desire is to cultivate a relationship with our client, both in the adoption piece of our work and in the counseling part of our world, that produces trust in us. Our clients are trusting us with some of the most precious and sacred moments of their lives. We want to be worthy of that space through transparent, healthy, life-giving relationship.


Identity is a huge focus of our post adoption support group. We spend time providing a safe space for our kiddos to wrestle with this concept. Truthfully, we as professionals learn deeply from these kids throughout the course of each group. Take a look at some of the insightful quotes shared about identity from group:

“Identity. It means how you’re similar with biological parents. My advice to another adoptee is maybe to take a DNA test when your mom will let you. It can connect you to history or connect you to relatives.”

“Identity is who are you are a person and you see yourself as. What you like…what you look like. My advice to another adoptee is to be yourself and try not to change who you are.”

AW will host another round of post adoption support group in June of 2022. To find out more information give us a call at 972-960-9981.


What is a “success story” in adoption?  Success comes with LISTENING to different voices of the triad. As professionals, we need to ensure we are equipping hopeful adoptive families with resources to educate and prepare the children they are already parenting! The children who are already in a hopeful adoptive home are often underserved and unheard part of the adoption triad. But nevertheless, they are a big piece of the story!

Thank you to this adult who reflected on her experience as a biological child in a home that chose to adopt children. Despite having little to no understanding of her adopted siblings’ lived experiences, she pressed through and learned to live out love in her sibling relationships. Why are we sharing this as a success? Because learning and adapting through the struggle allowed the sibling relationship to develop. Success doesn’t mean it ends in rainbows and butterflies and happy endings. Success means we choose to keep going, even if it is hard, or we don’t understand each other.

“When I was in elementary school my family began opening our home to receive children who had been placed in foster care. In time this led to my parents adopting two incredible children who needed a home. In a way, our home became a space where different worlds bumped into one another. At the time, of course, I did not have the language or awareness of all this would entail. Some kind of age/stage appropriate formal teaching and guidance would likely have been very helpful for all of us.

When two things bump into one another, when they enter into a relationship with one another, something new is created…and the process of creation can be exciting, messy, brutal, and truly beautiful. I understood so little of where my adopted siblings came from and their life experiences up to that point. I did not know about the different stages of child development and the consequences and implications of early childhood trauma. I did not understand the struggles that could come with being a young Mexican American girl growing up in an all-white family.  Along with all this came opportunities for growth, respect, learning to listen, seeing from another perspective, empathy, celebration of diversity, and more expansive and inclusive ways of living into love.”


A big part of our parenting and discipline philosophy comes from a model called TBRI. If you are familiar with this model at all, you know that in order to effectively practice the interventions, you as the parent must own your own stuff. We all make mistakes. And science would even suggest making mistakes in parenting is actually good IF you come back to the mistake and repair it!

Take a look at this blog post about the Power of Repair. This will help ANY parent, no matter how you became one!



“Oh you’re adopting? Oh I love that movie about a family that does adoption!”

Any of you heard this before? Absolutely movies and media CAN be a way to educate the public about adoption. However, there have been many times that we as adoption professionals have watched a movie or seen a post, story, or article on Instagram and CRINGED.

One account that we love to refer adoptive parents to for insight into how adoption narratives are portrayed in children’s movies and media is @adoption.books . The highlights on this account are also useful and educational!

Comment your favorite resource for vetting movies and media from the adoption perspective!


Some of the most painful moments as a therapist is watching a client struggle with rejection. Therapists become therapists because we genuinely love people and desire to show them compassion and care. The beauty of therapy is that we get to model unconditional positive regard for our clients. We get to show them acceptance, inspire them of what they feel worthy of.

If you have been to therapy and ever wondered if your therapist is thinking of or praying over you outside of session, know that our therapists here are most assuredly thinking about AND praying for you. We know that therapy is not a cure all to mental and emotional anguish. But we pray it is a place where you are able to battle rejection and find safety in a therapeutic relationship.

If you or someone you know are seeking therapy. Call us at 972-960-9981 and find out more about our counseling services!


AdoptionWorks has been serving children and families through adoption for over 50 years. Because of that, our agency has many times had to take a hard look at how we are conducting our work. If you have a long-standing place in this community, you are accountable to yourself, this community, and the people you serve to remain educated and pliable to change in order to do this work better with time. Yes, there was a time in our agency when we practiced closed adoption. However, as adoptee voices and birth family voices began to be elevated, the adoption professionals of our agency prayed, sought wisdom and education, and made the right choice. Our present-day professionals have the privilege of interacting with the women who moved our agency forward at that time.

“When I was hired as an adoption social worker in the early 80’s, like most licensed child-placing agencies, ChristianWorks for Children (Christian Services of the Southwest at that time) only did closed adoptions. We were part of a group of other licensed agencies (Interagency Adoption Council) that met regularly and shared information. We would also host annual two-day educational events where we would bring in nationally recognized adoption experts. On the first day, they would address adoption professionals, and on the second day, adoptive families and prospective adoptive families were invited.

On another occasion, there was a large conference on Open Adoption happening in Los Angeles, and two of us went, and took a board member and an adoptive parent with us. Those few days were powerful, and while changes didn’t happen overnight, over time we experienced what I would describe as a “stirring.” This coincided at a time where we were starting to receive phone calls from adoptees we placed who were now 18 years old and wanting to search, and know more about their families of origin. I heard many poignant stories, all born out of the loss of adoption and sensed the trauma that can come from a “closed” journey.

We knew we needed to prayerfully consider and carefully evaluate how adoptive families were being formed. It couldn’t be just a social work decision. We came to believe that the people most impacted by those decisions, the adoptive family and the birth family, needed a more prominent place at the table. Perhaps the social worker’s role was now one of educating and guiding in this life-altering decision. We began consulting with trusted voices that were further along in the process of changing from an agency that only did closed adoptions, to one that introduced openness, where birth parents and adoptive parents meet during pregnancy, share identifying information and arrange for ongoing contact. We knew in our hearts this stirring couldn’t be ignored and that while this wasn’t a panacea for the challenges that can come with adoption, this was a better and more ethical way to practice adoption, a better way to serve and advocate for the best interests of an unborn child.

So on a Friday in the early 90’s, at 10:00 am, (I remember it well and was nearly shaking!) we invited our entire waiting list to join us, to come listen, and boldly discuss the journey we had been on and the changes happening in adoption nationwide, and at ChristianWorks. We hoped they would process the information and join us as we asked them to consider moving forward with a more open adoption. Most did.

I often think about how many times in the Bible God refers to us as his children, his beloved children…so many times. But there are only two or three references where the Bible reminds us that we are adopted, of how we come to be a part of God’s family. It was important to him for us to understand that relationship. That helped me to think about openness and how every child deserves to be able to look into the eyes of the person that gave them birth, and hear their own story from them.

A mentor to me, and countless others as we made bold changes, was a social worker, Carol Demuth, and she always said “a child shouldn’t have to lose a family in order to gain one.””

Thank you to Carol for sharing her wisdom with us!


On a day where many are gathering to give thanks for the blessings we enjoy in our country, we are pausing to say thanks for something a little different.

Thank you to the individuals who shared their voices with us. Thank you to those who are willing to be vulnerable and share their experiences so we can all work harder together.

And from AW, thank you specifically to Ashley Mitchell for stepping out and shouting for agencies to do better. Thank you for being willing to link arms with us all the way here in Texas and teaching us. We can’t express enough how grateful we are for your heart!



Dear Adoption Community,

We know that adoption professionals and adoption agencies catch so much heat for not seeing the actual humanity that is affected by the business aspect of adoption. So we thought today, a note from our director, Madelyn, who has served in the adoption and foster care community for over 10 years would shed light on the personhood behind the professionals of the adoption community.

“When I walked into my first position as a caseworker, mere months after completing a bachelor’s degree in psychology, I had NO IDEA what I was getting into. Truthfully, if I would have known how incredibly heart-wrenched and broken I would feel many times over during the course of this career, I would never have chosen it.

In the last decade, I have served as a case manager, an intake coordinator, a home screening writer, a foster parent educator, a supervisor, and now, as a director of an infant placement program as well as a therapist serving all members of the triad. Each experience has shown me the complete wreckage of adoption and/or foster care, but it has also shown me beauty and redemption.

I have felt inadequate many times. I have felt angry. I have felt grief. I have felt joy. I have felt relief. I have felt dread. I have felt like this world is impossible to escape. I have felt deep pride in my clients and in the employees I have been blessed to work with and to train.  I have felt strapped by rules that I can’t change but have to enforce. I have felt completely useless. I have felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I have found myself on my living room floor, praying and crying to our Father in heaven to show me His wisdom. Because I know, the decisions that we make as an agency change the course of people’s lives forever.

What do I want people to know about adoption professionals? We care. We bleed. We can’t control as much as we wish we could. And sometimes, we wonder why in the world we keep getting up and showing up every day.

Being a part of the adoption community in any capacity is hard work and comes loaded with a responsibility that is heavier than any person can carry. Through the grace and wisdom of God, I have served and will continue to serve until He tells me otherwise. I will keep trusting Him to guide my steps and this agency.

Thank you for following along with us for this month. It is an honor to walk with you.”


Madelyn Murray

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