Photos by Hillary Ehlen and special to Fargo Monthly
Featured photo: Christian Adoption Services birth mother Kelsea
With help from the Impact Foundation, we’ve broken up the numerous Fargo-Moorhead organizations into 12 categories. With more than 100 charitable organizations in the Fargo-Moorhead area alone, we know that you’ll come across an organization that tug at your heartstrings. Within the listings of local charities we’ve published, the organizations are split into subcategories that will make it easy for your charitable spirit to find its match. Here is our spotlight on the Faith Based nonprofits, featuring Christian Adoption Services.
Christian Adoption Services
2360 7th Ave. E. #1, West Fargo
“Maybe I could have found a different agency or maybe I could have just ended up parenting, but I don’t know if it would have felt the same. I don’t know if it would have been as positive of a decision that it was.”
Kelsea found out she was pregnant in 2016 at a doctor’s office and was given a list of options available to her, including a card for Christian Adoption Services, which felt right to her and her family.
Christian Adoption Services was officially founded in 1985 by husband and wife duo Darold and Patricia “Pat” Larson. It all began with an ad in the local paper that read: “Pregnant? Need help? Call Us.” Darold placed this ad shortly after a local abortion clinic had opened in town, and he wanted to make sure that women knew there were other options available. From their house, they began a grassroots organization, acting as a hotline and providing other relevant services to pregnant women. Pat was a registered nurse who was able to provide pregnancy tests and counseling services for women with an unexpected pregnancy through their home office.
During this time, they teamed with a local OB, Dr. Perry, who provided medical services to women facing unwanted pregnancies. He and his wife Judy also often opened their home to these women. The Perrys tragically died in a car wreck in 1984, and the Perry Center was opened in their honor. This center is a full-service Christian maternity home for women needing a safe space while going through pregnancy. In working with them and through the founding of this center, Darold felt they should be providing these women more than just a place to stay; they should also be providing adoption services. They followed the necessary steps and soon became a licensed adoption agency.
Since then, they have been helping women and adoptive couples in Minnesota and North Dakota with services from application all the way through post-placement services. Office Manager Cambria Larson said they cover everything from education and placement, to counseling and support. “We do a lot of education with them, a lot of times around openness and the relationship between the birth parents and adoptive parents. For many adoptive families who are initially starting the process, that is often the scariest concern. But further education can be helpful for families to understand the benefits of adoption openness for the child and for each member of the adoption circle.”
“One of the big benefits for me was having a say in who I want my child to go to and having the opportunity to decide. Maybe I want someone who is similar to my family, or maybe I want someone completely different than my family. I have a say in it,” Kelsea said. Explaining the process, she said, “You get to pick a family and then you get to meet them, and then after you meet them, you get to make the final decision. It’s not just looking at the picture and thinking, ‘Yeah, they’re okay.'” But in her case, she didn’t actually get to meet them beforehand because the day she was supposed to meet them was the day she gave birth. “[My daughter] chose for me. She was like, ‘Yeah, these guys are cool, trust me,'” Kelsea shared with a laugh.
Getting to pick the birth family and having an open adoption is a big benefit to both parties in many adoption cases. With Christian Adoption Services, another big benefit to many expectant mothers like Kelsea is weekly case manager meetings. “We would talk about how things were going, how I was feeling, what the next couple of steps was going to be. We would take it a little bit at a time. That way, I wouldn’t get overwhelmed, because you never really know how much goes into it until you are in it,” Kelsea shared. Every step of the way, Kelsea was given manageable steps and offered the ability to back out if she decided this wasn’t for her after all. She told us, “They are very adamant about, ‘Is this what you want? The family you want? The decision you want?’ So I’m super grateful for that: that I never felt like I was pressured or pushed into anything. Especially since it’s such a scary thing to begin with.”
Christian Adoption Services hopes to continue to spread their mission and let more people know about the resources they have available and the education they can provide. Cambria said, “We are doing a lot of education in high schools and colleges, and we offer pregnancy resources in how to talk about adoption and use positive language and how [adoption] openness is so different than it used to be. The education program is a big part of what we are doing in the community.”
Along with education and awareness, they also have set up a small group for post-placement birth moms. “It’s an opportunity to connect to each other and realize they are not the only birth mom in the entire state of North Dakota,” Cambria said. Kelsea agreed: “We all went through basically the same experience, but everyone’s story is so much different. [It’s] so great to just hear everybody’s stories.”
From Founder/Administrator, Patricia Larson
Christian Family Life Services, Inc. (now Christian Adoption Services), was established in 1985 to assist young women struggling with an unplanned pregnancy while offering them a different alternative for her and her baby. We place a strong emphasis on the father’s rights and work to engage them in the process, teach them their rights and encourage them to be supportive to the birth mother during her pregnancy.
Giving Hearts Day‘s Impact
Outside of end-of-year giving, Giving Hearts Day is our largest source of donor income and our main introduction to new partners in the community. We’ve had amazing volunteers and great relationships with like-minded organizations come out of participating in Giving Hearts Day. We are working much closer with three other like-minded organizations now to be more effective in reaching the faith community for our services.
Something Non-Tangible Christian Adoption Services Is In Need Of
Prayer. The work we do is hard. We are always short-staffed in some way and travel a lot over North Dakota and Minnesota through all kinds of weather. Prayer support would be a blessing that we could not put a price on.
Short Term: Build relationships with past clients and families to be potential donors.
Long-Term: Have a larger office, be able to pay staff more competitive salaries and open a small office or contracted social worker in western North Dakota and central Minnesota.
More Faith-Based Organizations in the FM Area
“When you impact a child, you create a change that lasts a lifetime because that influences the rest of their life. Giving children a safe place to be, with people who love them, can influence them to make positive choices. We also teach good morals, which positively impacts choices that kids make, ultimately making them better citizens of our community.” – Shari Wagner, Director of Advancement
“I appreciate Jail Chaplains as I feel they are engaged in transformational work in the community. They are not merely putting a band-aid on problems, but are getting to the root issues, which include people’s spiritual conditions and what is in their hearts.” – Tracy Alin, Amistad Worldwide
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