The vision for a faith-based agency gave birth to AAA's ministry of family services that is professional, adheres to the highest ethical standards, and delivers compassionate, loving service to clients from many walks of life.
New Mexico's Children, Youth, and Families Department granted our very first license as a full service adoption agency on April 18, 1997. The dream of bringing families together for life would need support from many directions, and our first contribution came June 19, 1997. The $5,000 gift from the generous hearts of adoptive parents Ben and Sandy was "seed money" planted with a prayer for a mighty harvest in the coming years. A well-attended dedication service was held on June 28, 1997.
Casa de Socorro was selected as the corporate name because it means "house of assistance, nurturing, and healing." This was a fitting umbrella to encompass a full range of adoption services, as well as the counseling services available to our clients. We commenced doing business as Adoption Assistance Agency in an office wing of the home of Billye Coey in Albuquerque, with Billye as the one, full-time, in-office staff member, ably supported by four part-time out-of-office staffers, all with Masters degrees. By October 16, 1997 the state non-profit incorporation was granted. On July 9, 1998, Internal Revenue Service granted us the 501(c)(3) charitable status. In 1999, the in-office staff began to grow as Penny Allen came on as a master's intern, then full-time caseworker, followed in 2000 by the addition of Sharon Allcorn, LMSW, who had been working for some time for the agency part-time on specific cases. In 2005, Colleen Leseberg, BA, joined the in-office staff followed by Lisa Cawthon, LMFT. In January 2008, Laurie Howington, BA joined the in-office staff. The professional staff is supported by our very capable administrative support provided by Brittany Volk, AA III, and Lindsey Barnett, receptionist.
AAA'S UNIQUE APPROACH
Adoption Assistance Agency exists to help children join families who will love, nurture, protect and embrace them for a lifetime. We believe it is our heavenly Father who creates families and we have seen Him faithfully create so many loving adoptive families. Our non-profit identity enables us to raise charitable funds to accomplish many signifant and worthwhile goals. The first is to defray the costs of birthmothers who plan an adoption and then change their mind. This enables the adoptive family to have their birthmother expense fee apply to another adoption, rather than losing that fee. In addition to helping children find their loving families, we strive to help families of limited means through charitable funds who can only have children through the expensive option of adoption . We offer nurturing, education, counseling, and support for families struggling to overcome challenges. We provide community education for those working with women so that women who become pregnant may have access to full information and make loving, life-giving choices for their children. Women and men who make the courageous and loving choice of placing their child for adoption through Adoption Assistance can receive counseling for issues related to the adoption until the child is 18 as long as the agency is in business. Additional details about our charitable programs can me found elsewhere on our website.
The first baby, who was placed on August 2, 1997, went home with her forever family. How awesome to witness such a vivid experience of divine intervention! Yet the blessings were only beginning! By the end of that year, three families were rejoicing over their beautiful new daughters and we were able to assist with two international adoptions. Over the next few years, the number of placements increased year-by-year, and our small home-office space was soon bulging at the seams.
Early in 2001, our 50th child was placed with loving parents, and our first website birth mother had completed her adoption plan. Domestic placements continued in growing numbers, as did our international work, in which we provided the required pre and post placement services to New Mexico families who were working with out-of-state internationally placing agencies. With the growth came the need for more space, and on October 1, 2001 we began serving from our present location. For the first few years only half of the available space was used for offices, while the remaining half served as an apartment for birth mothers and their dependent children.
With continuing growth came the demand for additional staff. We are pleased that our base staff has continued serving while new professional and administrative staff members have been recruited and trained. We strive for excellence both in the standards to which we adhere and in the services which we deliver. We believe our work has been amazingly blessed as evidenced by the fact that by the end of 2002, the number of children placed from all agency related sources crossed the 100 mark! A number of these children have had a variety of special needs, ranging from mild to profound, and the great news is that we have been able to find loving homes for every child that has come our way.
ADDITIONAL SERVICES AND AFFILIATIONS
During our twelve-year history we have offered a variety of training programs to the families who work with us, as well as to professional social work and therapy providers across the state of New Mexico. The professional training has awarded certified continuing education units to assist in license renewal. We are proud to have maintained an active role and membership in the Adoption and Foster Care Alliance of New Mexico. This organization works actively to improve the quality of services delivered in our state through on-going training and participation in revising and updating the laws and regulations that govern our services. We have recently become members of the National Council for Adoption to further expand our resources and our accountability.
WITH THANKFUL HEARTS
We are humbled and deeply grateful to the Lord for allowing us the honor and privilege of working with these wonderful children, their birth parents, and their loving adoptive families. We eagerly anticipate an exciting future as we continue our mission of "Bringing Families Together for Life."