Providing Home: Adoption and Pregnancy Counseling
By Kayti Christian, LFS Storytelling and Social Media Intern
Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains (LFS) began serving people through adoption in 1948. Over time, the LFS adoption program also began to offer pregnancy counseling for women who needed a safe space to discuss their futures. Offering various services for both birth parents and adoptive families, the program has helped thousands of clients in the last 65 years.
Renee Teague, Program Director and adoptive mother of two children, manages a staff of 6 counselors and coordinators from her office in Denver.
“I’ve spent 25 years working in child protection, foster care, and adoption,” says Teague explains. “It’s a passion of mine — helping families, birth parents, and the kids.”
About 60 percent of LFS adoptions are domestic, while 40 percent are international. Almost all domestic cases are infants and the placement usually occurs within the last 2–3 months of pregnancy. For international adoptions, the average age is 3-years-old or older.
Emily Frank, an Adoption and Family Counselor in the Denver office, is about to celebrate the 6th birthday of the first child she helped place.
“I find my work really rewarding,” Frank says. “I keep all the Christmas cards from families I’ve worked with on my door. It’s already November, but I still have last year’s cards hanging.”
With a background in marriage and family counseling, Frank describes her work as, “about as happy a field you can get in to.”
She works solely with adoptive families, walking them through the process, arranging background checks, completing home studies, and conducting post placement visits. After 6 months, a family can finalize the adoption and legalize guardianship.
The Parks*, a family Frank is currently working with, are finalizing their international adoption this month.
“It’s an amazing story,” shares Frank.
“The husband and wife — soon to be adoptive parents — were both adopted from Korea as infants. Without any involvement of the agency, they coincidentally met and fell in love. Now married, they are returning to Korea to adopt twin brothers. They had such a great experience and always wanted to adopt, even before they met each other.”
The Parks will bring their sons home to Colorado in December.
Taila Gildner, a Pregnancy Counselor at LFS, is passionate about giving birth mothers a voice and supporting their choices.
“My focus is the birth parent,” explains Gildner.
“I am their personal advocate — whether they choose to parent or place their child, I am here for them. It’s really sacred for a birth parent to invite you into this process with them. I feel like looking at adoption is one of the hardest things someone can ever do. I love being able to be a part of that process with them.”
While many birth families choose to place their child through LFS, others decide to parent. LFS is proud to offer services to expectant families, regardless of their decision.
The team assists with each individual’s immediate needs, including food, pre-natal vitamins, urgent medical concerns, diapers for other children in the home, and more. They also connect parents to resources in the community.
If a mom comes in for help, we are going to work with her regardless of her choice,” Teague states. “If she chooses parenting, we are going to help her. And if she chooses adoption, we are going to help her.”
According to Teague, it is also not uncommon for a birth mom to change her mind at the hospital. She explains how assisting these mothers with immediate necessities is of the utmost importance.
“We have birth moms who make an adoption plan, but change their mind last minute,” she shares.
“They don’t have a diaper bag or car seat to go home with. These are immediate and, often very expensive needs. If the community or churches are looking for ways to help or support us, this is one of our greatest needs. We would love help providing necessities for these specific cases.”
Search & Reunion, another service offered by Teague and her team, assists birth parents or adopted children in reuniting with or learning about their biological family.
“I recently had a birth mom contact me — she had placed her daughter 47 years ago,” Gildner says.
“The birth mom is now in her 70’s and, after searching for her daughter for the past 15 years, we helped connect them in what was a very positive reunion. She just wanted to tell her daughter that she loved her and was thinking about her. It was pretty amazing.”
Gildner does explain that reunions do not always have a positive outcome and clients are required to go through a pre-search counseling session to guide them through all the possible scenarios. Currently, LFS only offers services for open adoptions and is happy to help both parents and children learn more about their biological family.
LFS relies heavily on the community to continue providing services. Support the Adoption and Pregnancy Counseling Program and the many other programs of LFS by becoming a community partner! Donate at www.lfsrm.org or choose to donate to LFS on Colorado Gives Day December 6th.
Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains is a faith based, non-profit human service agency helping children and families during their most challenging times. We are committed to serving all people, regardless of race, religion, gender, or age, and offer many services to the community, including refugee resettlement services.
For questions or to learn more about LFS, please visit www.lfsrm.org
*all names have been changed to protect privacy