Adoption Option Inc. has been serving the broader Great Lakes Bay community since 2004. While the title certainly alludes to some of their services offered, there is much more being done to help families and children within the organization. Adoption Option works to improve the lives of the children and families they serve.
Whether through adoption, foster care, licensing, youth services, help with health care assistance, or family preservation services, this precious resource to the community has helped turn houses into safe homes. We sat down with Jacqueline Leapheart, marketing and fund development coordinator with Adoption Option to learn more about her role in making these much needed-services available to those in need.
Q: Jacqueline, thank you so much for joining us. Can you please tell us more about your role with Adoption Option?
A: Certainly! As the marketing and fund development coordinator, I wear a lot of hats. Marketing could mean anything from going to area Chamber of Commerce events and networking to creating the graphic design materials like brochures and fundraising promotion pieces. I also handle all of our social media and event organization for fundraising. I also manage all of our web design, and I get the honor go to adoption hearings and take photos to put in a photo album for families to keep. This helps them commemorate the day and reflect on the new memories they have created.
Q: That is such an important need in the community. How long have you been working for Adoption Option?
A: Thinking about it now it seems like forever, but in a great way. I started back in 2007.
Q: Thank you, that shows true dedication. Your organization has grown so much since its establishment. What other types of services in addition to adoption does Adoption Option provide?
A: We provide foster care licensing and placement, mentorship programs for 10-14 year old youth to help with educational gaps, and one for 14-21 year olds to help them with life skills. Youth and young adults in our life skills program are likely to age out of foster care. We provide them with assistance with things like applying for college, applying for trade schools and getting an apartment, among other things.
In addition to these services, we also have family preservation programs. When a Child Protective Services case is started, we go into the homes to help educate the biological family, in hopes that the biological family can remain intact.
Q: What is your favorite part of working for Adoption Option?
A: Definitely helping the families, and sharing their inspiring stories of triumphing over the challenges they face. Whether we are creating a new family or rebuilding an existing one, having a family structure is very important in both today’s society, and in general. I was very blessed to have an amazing family, so when our organization can help one come back together or start brand new, that really means a lot to me.
Q: On the flip side, what are some of the biggest challenges for you there?
A: One of them is dispelling myths about the processes of adoption and what we do. A lot of people think for instance that kids are in foster care because they are bad kids. In reality it’s because they have most likely been exposed to some type of abuse or neglect. The idea is really to give the children a safe space to learn and grow while the family members do the same on their end. Ideally, the children will be re-introduced, and that family can grow stronger together.
Q: Thank you so much for sharing that. Do you have anything else that you would like to share?
A: Well, our Jambalaya and Jazz fundraising event is this Thursday night at the Great Hall! In addition to this excellent fundraiser, November is also national adoption month. This is a great time to recognize the importance of adoption, and also a great time to donate time and monetary funds, or even to become a foster parent or a mentor. If you don’t have the money, you can always donate your time. We welcome that just as much.
For more information about Adoption Option Inc., you can visit their website at adoptionoptioninc.org, or find them on Facebook.