INSPIRED IMPACT™ is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to social entrepreneurs and leaders of purpose-driven organizations who are making an impact in their communities, industries, and around the world.
Adrienne Elliott is the Executive Director of Adoption Options and ARISE Adoption Academey headquartered in Denver Colorado. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube and learn more at adoption-options.com.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
I am the executive director of Adoption Options and the soon-to-form ARISE Adoption Academy, LLC. Adoption Options is an inclusive Colorado non-profit adoption agency dedicated to enriching the lives of children, youth and families. Adoption Options walks alongside birth mothers and adoptive families, as advocates providing guidance in this unique journey. With a proud tradition of acceptance and inclusivity, our organization offers a comprehensive continuum of services from navigation, to placement, to counseling and coaching.
In addition to infant and child adoption services, we have a vibrant Flexible Families program that matches foster children with loving families and provides resources and services unique to foster adoption. Serving children ages 3-18 in the child welfare system, Adoption Options identifies families best suited to embrace and manage the specialized needs of these children.
We believe that all children deserve to live in a safe and loving family and my job is to ensure that we support those families after the placement and finalization of an adoption.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
I believe that all children deserve to grow up in a family that is safe and permanent. My focus recently has been on families and their children after an adoption has finalized by continuing to support and educate them so that children remain in the family and don’t return to the social services community.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Adoption Options is making a huge impact in the community by supporting birth parents in a crisis pregnancy with options counseling and decision-making support. We counsel more than 160 birth parents in crisis every year regarding unplanned pregnancies and provide them support around issues of homelessness, poverty, domestic violence, and substance abuse issues regardless of whether or not they place their child for adoption. These services are completely free and non-judgemental.
Another important impact is around the well-being of the children and families we serve. Well-being is defined as “being able to judge life positively and feeling good about ourselves.” With unprecedented experience and compassion, for more than 37 years, Adoption Options has helped thousands in creating loving forever families for every child and increased the ultimate well-being for the child and family.
We have placed more thann 1,900 children (0-18 years old) into their permanent and safe families since 1981; of these children were from foster care.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
The children and families inspire me to do this important work. I have worked with hundreds of children that desperately needed a family and once they were placed with their family, I’ve been able to see them thrive! They have been able to become productive members of society and have had the ability to do great things with their lives. The birth parents also inspire me to do this work. These women and men are the most courageous and selfless individuals I have ever met. To think beyond yourself for the ultimate good of your child is the most selfless act one can do.
WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
Currently, my focus is launching our new social enterprise – ARISE Adoption Academy. There are 130,000 children adopted every year in the US. Unfortunately, 27,000 of those children disrupt (their adoptions fail) out of their adoptive families due to a lack of resources and support for the family. This can cost society upwards of $300,000 per child in social costs if the child returns to the child welfare system, which doesn’t include the heartbreak, guilt and emotional toll it takes on both the child and the family. With ARISE Adoption Academy, we can prevent disruption of the child by offering post-adoption resources such as webinars, podcasts, and online coaching to support these adoptive families.
As ARISE grows and succeeds, we can reinvest the profits that it makes back into Adoption Options. This will help build and support more programs within the agency focusing on the well-being of our birth parents as well as our ability to recruit, retain, and educate more families wanting to adopt from the foster care system.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
As a non-profit, funding is always a limited resource. Our focus in 2019 is to raise the capital it will take to launch ARISE. Once we have the start-up capital, we can focus on capacity building and evaluation to make the business successful.
WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
The biggest challenge I face every day is providing vital services to our birth parents, families, and children with a limited amount of funding. This is no different than every non-profit in the community, but by diversifying our revenue streams, we are more likely to be self-sustaining in the years to come.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
My advice to other leaders is that we must always be creative and strive to figure out what it is that sets us apart from others doing similar work. When we lose our creativity, we lose the ability to differentiate what makes us unique and important. Running a nonprofit is no different than running a for-profit – it’s just a business with a mission and a heart.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
People can support us by taking the time to learn more about the work that we are doing for families and children, donating, and/or volunteering with us. We are always looking for passionate members of the community to serve on our two boards (one with Adoption Options and the other with ARISE Adoption Academy). Visit us at adoption-options.com.
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