ONE AUSTINITE SHARES HER COMPELLING STORY ABOUT CHOOSING A FAMILY TO ADOPT HER BABY GIRL. November is National Adoption Awareness Month

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1 8305 Cross Park Drive Austin, TX Phone (512) Fax (512) News Release Contact: Gabrielle Wallace, Amy Jones, Forté Phone: (214) ext. 41/ 30 Mobile: (501) (469) FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 14, 2013 ONE AUSTINITE SHARES HER COMPELLING STORY ABOUT CHOOSING A FAMILY TO ADOPT HER BABY GIRL November is National Adoption Awareness Month AUSTIN, TEXAS, NOV 14, 2013: Choosing adoption is not an easy choice for women or couples who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, but even with the difficulties, it can be a positive choice. It is a decision that means a family for a child and a sense of peace for birth parents who feel they cannot meet their child s needs. Twenty-twoyear-old Laura Reyes understands the struggle and the satisfaction that comes with adoption. After all, she was adopted, and she recently hand-picked the family who adopted her baby girl by working with Lutheran Social Services of the South, Inc. (LSS), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and its Lutheran Adoption Services of Texas (LAST) program. The organization placed 16 infants domestically over the last year and a half and receives inquiries daily from many families who also are seeking to experience parenthood through adoption.

2 COMPELLING ADOPTION STORY NATIONAL ADOPTION AWARENESS PAGE 2 While I knew adoption was right, the more my baby grew, the more difficult it was for me. But, I just knew I couldn t give my baby the life she deserved, said Reyes. By sharing my story, I want others experiencing an unplanned pregnancy to feel that they are not alone, and I want to help them realize that it is a selfless act to want what s best. It demonstrates strength, not weakness. Reyes was 20 when she found out she was pregnant. She was living on the couch at her parent s house. She was in debt, and while she wants to be a mother eventually, she felt she could not provide a stable home for her child at this time. She was adopted by her parents after they had fertility issues, so adoption seemed like a clear choice for her. Reyes, like many other pregnant women, considered her pregnancy an opportunity to provide a loving couple with the child they desperately wanted. I met with Lutheran Social Services of the South, and they had books that potential adoptive parents put together about themselves. As I looked through the first book, I found the couple was educated, had awesome jobs, they were outdoorsy, and loved dogs. Everything about them was so perfect, said Reyes. For months leading up to this moment I thought finding the perfect parents would be too difficult and yet here they were, the first book I saw. I did not need to look at more. Lutheran Social Services is hoping stories like Reyes help draw attention to adoption during the month of November since it s National Adoption Awareness Month. The organization has been counseling women with unplanned pregnancies for 60 years and has helped facilitate more than 7,500 adoptions. Most domestic adoptions are open or semi-open which means there is some contact between the birth parents and adoptive

3 COMPELLING ADOPTION STORY NATIONAL ADOPTION AWARENESS PAGE 3 family. The level of contact varies depending on each particular situation and the birth parents wishes. Lutheran Social Services was the first agency in Texas to offer openness in adoption in the 1970s and has helped change the adoption experience for many birthmothers from a negative to a positive one, said Tanya Graham, director of domestic adoption for Lutheran Social Services of the South. Birth parents who have the opportunity to meet a couple and have ongoing contact with them after placement, are able to move forward with their lives knowing that their decisions have both created and blessed a family, as well as provided their child with parents who are ready to accept and love them unconditionally. Adoption is the joining of two families into one, much like a marriage, all for the benefit of the child. Lutheran Social Services of the South provides free one-on-one support and counseling to birth parents for the life of an adoption. The organization helps birth parents identify and select a family that is right for them. LSS also assists with pregnancy related expenses, hospital plans, legal documents and acts as an intermediary between birthmothers and adoptive parents after the adoption takes place. LSS does not charge birth parents for its services. We want women to understand that adoption can be a viable option, and one that they can feel confident about, said Graham. The adoptive families go through an extensive screening process to be approved as an adoptive couple, so birth parents can be assured when they choose an LSS family that they will be able to provide a safe and loving home for a child. Ultimately, the choice of adoption and of which family they

4 COMPELLING ADOPTION STORY NATIONAL ADOPTION AWARENESS PAGE 4 choose is totally their decision. We don t ever pressure anyone: this is a choice birth parents make willingly at every step of the way. Lutheran Social Services of the South has several programs that help facilitate adoptions. Birth parents in Texas and families who want to adopt children domestically or internationally work with Lutheran Adoption Services of Texas (LAST). Families can also adopt foster children through the Foster in Texas (FIT) program. For more information, go to or call (800) To learn more specifically about Lutheran Adoptive Services of Texas, visit For members of the media interested in conducting interviews, contact Gabrielle Wallace at (214) ext. 41 or or Amy Jones at ext 30 or ABOUT LUTHERAN SOCIAL SERVICES OF THE SOUTH Lutheran Social Services of the South, Inc. (LSS), a 501(c)(3) faith based nonprofit organization, is committed to serving people in need, including children, the elderly, the disadvantaged, and those affected by disasters in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Increasingly, a core mission at LSS is working to stop the cycle of multi-generational child abuse in Texas. LSS is the largest provider of children s residential care in Texas and currently serves more than 26,000 individuals annually. LSS programs include Foster In Texas (FIT) and Lutheran Adoption Services of Texas, as well as the operation of two residential treatment centers, one emergency shelter, charter schools

5 COMPELLING ADOPTION STORY NATIONAL ADOPTION AWARENESS PAGE 5 on three campuses, and five senior retirement communities in Texas. LSS also provides critical assistance and emergency response to those impacted by disasters and financial hardship. For additional information about LSS, its programs and mission, please visit us at -End- Photo courtesy of Lutheran Social Services of the South Photo Cutline: Laura Reyes worked with Lutheran Social Services of the South to find the right family to adopt her baby girl.

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