Happy New Year! Adoptions of Indiana is gearing up for an exciting 2016! As this letter is being written, Executive Director, Meg Sterchi, is on her way to South Africa developing a program to unite children who are HIV+ with their forever families. Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” This belief is at the core of who we are at Adoptions of Indiana and has been fundamental in shaping our goals for 2016.
Friends and family of AoI know the value we place on education for all members of the adoption triad. Through literature, workshops, coaching, mentoring, and counseling, AoI strives to provide adoptive families, expectant/birth families, and children with the tools and information they need to be healthy and successful throughout life. As our clients enter into the adoption process and begin their individual journeys, it is important that each has a positive experience whether at a hospital, in school, or on a playground. That is why we have created a community education initiative for 2016.
Our community education initiative has many components. First, we will be offering continuing education units (CEHs) for local hospital social workers and nurses who participate in our seminar for hospital professionals. Our team of educators will use research-based data to walk hospital personnel through adoption law, birth plans, and the importance of recognizing and addressing personal biases in fulfilling professional roles. Every birth and adoptive family deserves to have a respectful, supportive, hospital experience.
Next, we will work with schools throughout the state of Indiana bringing to them options for professional development. AoI will be offering informative workshops for teachers. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The secret in education lies in respecting the student.” Adoptions of Indiana will focus on ways teachers can respect the child who joined their family through adoption in the language, media, literature, and assignments they choose. AoI also hopes to network with school social workers looking at these same issues. In addition, providing social workers with resources and information on attachment, stuck spots, and support for children who joined their families through adoption.
Adoptions of Indiana wishes to offer more support to Indiana’s adopted adolescent and teen population. Therefore, we will be working with school systems to offer E^2 and Adoption Connections. E^2 is an educational program for teens that will seek to equip and empower young people with information and shared experiences to help normalize the process of identity development. Our Adoptions Connection Program will be offered to students ages 7-11 who joined their family through adoption. This program will help children confidently handle questions from peers, address adoption in the media through humor, and will focus on the importance of communication with parents.
In addition, it is our goal to work with local high school health classes to offer a program modeled after, “Giving Life A Second Chance” that was created by Hope Cottage in Dallas, TX. There will be three main objectives with this program: To help youth see adoptive families as a valid way to form a family; to help youth better understand and respect their peers who are choosing an adoption plan for their unborn child; and lastly, to help youth consider postponing sexual activity, especially casual activity.
As we begin this New Year, AoI would like to introduce two new staff members. First, Becky Messina-Graham will be joining us full time focusing on birth/expectant parent services. In addition, Becky will be assisting those clients who are making decisions about search/reunion. Becky earned a Bachelors in Social Work from Ball State and holds an MSW from Indiana University. She has a background in hospice and healthcare, as well as adoption. Becky is an adoptee of a closed adoption who met her birthmother and family seven years ago. She is blessed to enjoy positive relationships with both birth and adoptive families and sees them often. Becky is married to Steve, who is a scientist, and enjoys parenting their two year old daughter, Maya.
We would also like to welcome Carissa Maddox. Carissa has worked with children and families since 1993 as an educator and adoption specialist. She is returning to Adoptions of Indiana after working as an Assistant Principal and Master Teacher. Carissa brings a passion for education and research to the agency. Blessed to be a mother through adoption, Carissa deeply values and respects all members of the adoption triad and seeks to support and empower each member. Carissa holds a Bachelors of Science from Indiana University and earned a Masters of Science in Educational Leadership from the University of Dayton. In addition, she is working towards completing her MSW. Carissa and her husband, Matt, have four children – Miriam, Anna, Ryan, and Lainey. As a family, they enjoy travel and outdoor activities.
As we begin 2016, we hold dear the blessing of a new year. We value the opportunity to serve you and your loved ones.