by Amy Pressman, Director of Marketing, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven
Making the choice to adopt a baby is often not an easy one. There are many emotions and decisions that come into play. The wait for a child can be long. Paperwork can be tedious. Eligibility requirements can be confusing. Many people don’t know where to turn for guidance.
Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven and Amy Rashba, LCSW, JFS’s Adoption Coordinator, help guide families through every step of the adoption process.
Rashba has been at JFS of Greater New Haven for 30 years. In that time, she has assisted many families from different ethnic backgrounds with adoption. Adoptive families do not have to be Jewish to adopt through JFS.
Rashba serves not only as a social worker for families but also as a guide through the entire adoption process including the homestudy.
While the homestudy does include visits to the prospective adoptive parents’ homes, it is much more comprehensive than that. Extensive paperwork, background checks and significant research must be done. Prospective parents must decide whether to go through the domestic or inter-country adoption route.
Here are five families who made the decision to adopt with the help of JFS. All names of participants that follow have been changed to protect the identities of the parents and their children.
In one domestic adoption experience, Rashba wondered if the birth parents might like to consider Lisa and her husband, who shared a similar ethnic background. Lisa and her husband were thrilled when the birth parents chose them. Another adoptive parent, Jennifer, found JFS through a work colleague who had adopted a child through JFS.
Through the many ups and downs of the process, Rashba was always there for Jennifer and her family. “Amy was my rock. Without her, we couldn’t have gotten through this process,” she said. One adoptive father, Steve, said that JFS “is an important resource to have locally.” He looked at other area organizations that provide adoption services, but said, “they didn’t seem as personal to us.”
Adoptions today tend to be open, meaning the birth parents choose the adoptive parents and can play a continuing role in the life of their birth child. Some birth parents want to be involved to a degree; others do not.
Leslie told me that the JFS-run workshop she attended “opened her eyes” about open adoption and helped her to understand the multiple perspectives of all those involved. Leslie considers Rashba and JFS to be a part of her family.
Kelly, another adoptive parent, was adopted herself and had a life plan to adopt a child. She already had other biological children, and all family members were eager to welcome another child into their home. Kelly said JFS “provides connections between people.” She looks forward to the JFS-run adoption picnics which reunite JFS adopting families and offer them a chance to connect.
“What is professionally and personally most satisfying to me is to help create families,” Rashba said. December is her favorite time of the year because of the many holiday cards she receives with photos of the families she helped create.
Through JFS, she provides open adoption support groups, as well as a “Stars of David” group with social activities centered on the Jewish holidays for Jewish families created through adoption. She is also currently conducting homestudy groups. You can contact her at (203) 389-5599, x113, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
JFS is a proud beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven and is supported through contributions. to the Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign.