Holt-Sunny Ridge receives a grant from The MAGIC Charities Foundation

As we recognize National Foster Care Month in May, Holt-Sunny Ridge is pleased to announce a partnership with The MAGIC Charities Foundation, whose mission is to advocate for and invest in the well-being of children through initiatives in four important areas: children’s health, education, safety, and family relationships.

Holt-Sunny Ridge is delighted to be the recipient of a $5000 grant awarded by MAGIC Charities to support our post adoption therapeutic services for adoptive and foster families in Illinois. These funds will directly benefit families through an endowment for therapy services for uninsured or under-insured families, plus sponsorships for one foster family to attend our Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI)®  training series and another to attend our Journey of Hope 2021 family camp.

Camp attendees, their parents, and TBRI®  trained staff enjoy group time

EAGALA equine therapy is a favorite part of camp

We recently had the opportunity to talk to adoptive mom Lauren Pura, who is on the Board of Directors for The MAGIC Charities. She shared her excitement about the partnership and how Holt-Sunny Ridge aligns with the mission and vision of their foundation.

Tell us about your role.

I lead our Adoptive Families and Foster Care initiative. For this strategic priority, our organization is focused on finding ways to support families and individuals that have experienced adoption or foster care. Our other strategic priorities include Children’s Health, Literacy and Education, and Advocacy and Child Safety.

Do you have a personal passion surrounding these strategic areas?

Being an adoptive mom I know first-hand how complex adoptive family relationships can be. I feel extremely passionate about helping other adoptive and foster families connect to vital and successful programs. Many families need support beyond the initial adoption. There are many post adoption services available, but access to quality counseling and other support can be difficult to find.

Supervisor of Clinical Services Pam Shepard demonstrates an activity during therapy

What captured your attention about Holt-Sunny Ridge and their programs?

I believe it’s critical for families to find counselors who have the training necessary for the unique needs of adoptive and foster families, which differs from traditional counseling methods. When I began researching organizations that provide support to these families, what struck me about Holt-Sunny Ridge is that they provide various programs that follow families throughout the adoption and foster care lifecycle. They offer a variety of post adoption services that help to ensure that families are healthy and successful as their children grow.

In what other ways is The MAGIC Charities Foundation engaging in the community?

For adoptive and foster families, we are partnering with organizations that speak to our mission. We directly support the educational and healthcare needs of adopted and foster care children and their families with financial aid, meals, counseling, support, and educational programming. This year we instituted a MAGIC scholarship fund that is driven by the belief that children in need should have the opportunity to pursue their dreams through education. The scholarship fund provides both academic and non-academic support in the form of assistance for tuition, textbooks, housing, transportation, and food/nutrition.

How has the current global pandemic affected programs like yours?

It’s created new challenges for nonprofit organizations like Holt-Sunny Ridge and us, who depend on volunteers and personal interaction to deliver their specialized programs to families and children in need. Holt’s TBRI® summer camps were canceled but will be back stronger than ever next year. At MAGIC, we’re operating “all hands on deck,” and our Executive Director is personally packaging and delivering meals for children that do not have a stable food source while out of school.

The pandemic’s economic impact is widespread. Nonprofits are experiencing a reduction in donations, and their financial resources are diminished. But the need is great, and we’re more committed than ever to support organizations like Holt-Sunny Ridge to ensure vital programs for adoptive and foster families continue.

Read more about the partnership between Holt-Sunny Ridge and The MAGIC Charities Foundation here

For information about post adoption therapy services at Holt-Sunny Ridge, please visit our website.

IL Family l Chuck & Rob

Chuck and Rob are waiting to welcome a child into their heart and home through open adoption. Learn more about them!

Dear Birth Mom/Family,

We want to share our sincere appreciation for considering us as adoptive parents as we navigate through this new chapter of our life stories together. 

It is our belief that everything happens for a reason, and we are excited our paths have crossed to explore the possibility of working together with you through the adoption process. 

We respect, admire and value you for your strength and courage in recognizing the possibilities we all have as people looking to help each other in truly living lives of purpose and meaning.  Thank you for your time and consideration as we look to build an enriching and fulfilling story full of love for a new child in our family.

Love,

Chuck and Rob

Our Story & How We Met

We joke that we “found love in a hopeless place” through online dating.

After making a positive connection online, our spark ignited a continuously burning flame that still burns strong today. When we first met, we were drawn to each other because we both had similar life visions and goals – building a traditional, loving family together. Fortunately, as our relationship continued to evolve, same-sex marriage became a reality. We were thrilled at the opportunity to legally marry and start a family with our adopted  dog, Mia.  Since the start of our relationship, one of our common goals was being able to share the positive family experiences we were fortunate to have with a family of our own.

Now, we are enthusiastically preparing to expand our story with a new adopted son or daughter while continuing to build a traditional family in a unique and special way.

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About Chuck

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and eventually made my way to The University of Iowa, where I studied engineering.  I now have a career as an engineer in which I am proud to use my skills to help so many people.  I am also very passionate about a side job in the concert industry where I take part in the production of large scale events.  Live music continues to be a large part of my life, both while on the job, and also just for fun.

Rob made his way into my world, and I am very grateful to now be sharing my life with him.  His positivity, genuine spirit, and enthusiasm for life were all traits that drew me in while getting to know him.  Even though we have spent so much time with each other over the years, I am continuously amazed by the compassion he shows and the amount of love he brings to every day that we are together.  I look forward to the day that I get to see him love a child in the same way.

About Rob

From growing up spending summers at the lake on the boat to experiencing a 16 year career in gymnastics, I always am looking to discover the opportunities life has to offer, even in tough times.

I believe in sharing the gifts of time and talent through service as a music minister at church, a teacher by profession and as a member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.  I continually look for ways to grow throughout any experience and make sure to enjoy the path that presents itself through life.  I have often heard marriage was about finding your better half, and Chuck truly is a person who brings out the best in me as well as everyone he meets.  I am inspired by his drive, determination and work ethic which allows for his achievements.  It is no wonder his example of optimism with a compassionate growth-mindset has become a cornerstone in our lives together.  I love that Chuck is a loyal and dependable person who puts the needs of those he cares about over his own. He is already a loving husband, and my heart smiles to think of the potential he has as a future mentor and father.

Our Home & Community

We are excited to invite a new family member into our warm suburban home outside of Chicago.  Our house is two stories and has three bedrooms with a large fenced-in yard that gives plenty of space for a child to run around with the dog.  We live in a very family friendly and diverse neighborhood that feeds into a great school district.  Many of the neighborhood children have fun at the playground or go fishing in the pond that are both at the park down the road from the house.  There is a quaint downtown area nearby that has something for all ages, including a classic ice cream parlor with an arts and crafts room for children.

We are looking forward to building memories within our home and community as we look to expand our family.

Our Families

Rob’s Family

I feel fortunate to have a very close family and still spend quality time regularly with my dad, three sisters, brother-in-laws and nieces/nephews. We love upholding long running family traditions such as cooking old world recipes from each side of the family to the annual tradition of going up to the lake-house for family reunions (now running for over 60 years).  Whether spending a low-key night having a fire in the backyard, having a sleepover with nieces and nephews, or taking the boat out with Chuck and Dad, making family time has been and will always remain a priority in my life.

Chuck’s Family

I am grateful to be a part of a large and loving family that allows me to have unique and fulfilling relationships with not just each of my three siblings and parents in my immediate family, but also many of my cousins, aunts, and uncles in our extended family.  Both of my parents are remarried, and now since all children have moved out of the houses, they all  are adjusting to a new life as they get closer to retirement, and eager to become grandparents.  Rob has been welcomed wholeheartedly into the family, and now is a part of the activities, trips, traditions that we all value so much together.

Our Dog – Mia!

Meet our furry family member, Mia! She is a very well-trained, 8 year old mix who is full of energy. Mia loves being a part of the group. She is comfortable around all ages, and enjoys any activity that allows her to spend time with her family and friends.

Whether it’s taking a road trip up to the lake house, spending a day out on the water, going for a walk around the neighborhood or playing “Hide and Seek” around our home with our nieces and nephew, Mia is ready to give everyone her playful love.

Activities & Interests

Together we can experience more…

Prior to finding each other, we were individually drawn to similar activities and interests throughout our lives, particularly in music and fitness. Now, we jointly create meaningful experiences that strengthen our relationship by building upon our common interests.  Both of us grew up playing instruments which led to professions in different musical worlds.  Rob is a music teacher while Chuck works in the concert industry.  Rob grew up competing in gymnastics, and Chuck found a love for fitness later in life through running and weightlifting.  Through that common ground, we often work out together and continuously encourage each other to live healthy lives that will allow us to be active in our journeys together for many years to come.

We also love traveling to new places and seeing what the world has to offer.  We often organize trips that include great architecture, historical museums, beautiful scenery, rich culture,  and fun activities.  We are looking forward to including a son or daughter in our future adventures.

Thank You

We deeply appreciate you taking the time to look through our profile, read a little bit about us, and for considering us to join you in this journey.  We hope this has given you some insight into our lives, who we are as a couple, and who we want to be as parents.  We look forward to sharing our lives as two dads with a little one to love with all of our hearts.  Thank you again for considering us as parents.

Chuck and Rob,

Interested in seeing Chuck and Rob’s full profile? Fill out the contact form below!

 

 

 

 

 

WI Family | Jerome & Laura

Jerome and Laura are waiting to welcome a child into their heart and home through open adoption. Learn more about them!

Dear Birth Mom/Family,

Hello!  We are Jerome, Laura, and Jack.  We met out West in Portland, OR.  We enjoy traveling, hiking adventures, swimming, visiting local parks and zoos and date nights.  We also really enjoy football in our house,  We have a Packers and Seahawks rivalry, and on football Sundays you will see us all supporting our teams!

We have always wanted to have a family and decided the best way to do that was through adoption.  We have one son, Jack who was adopted from Texas. Jack has been a blessing since the first day we held him in our arms.  Now, we are ready to make Jack a big brother.

Thank you for reading about us.  We cannot imagine how difficult the decision to make an adoption plan must be for you.  We admire beyond words the choice you have decided to make.  The gift of adoption is a blessing to our whole family.  We cannot wait to show you the love we have in hearts!

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IL Family | Jamie & Jenn

Jamie and Jenn are waiting to welcome a child into their heart and home through open adoption. Learn more about them!

Dear Birth Mom/Family,

We’ve barely just met yet we are sharing this special space and a brave, bold reason for being here—a hope for the very best life for you and your child.

We’d like to show you our hearts and our family here and hope you’ll find a place and a space where you and your child might like to be. We’re humbled by the powerful, selfless, loving decisions you are making. You inspire us.

We want for you to feel real joy when you think of us as your child’s adoptive parents. We have a lot of love to give and promise to pour all of the love, life and adventure we have into your little one. With your help, they will grow up safe, secure, strong in knowing they are precious, they are loved—and just how important they are to us and to you.

As you read through our story, look through our pictures and share this space with us, perhaps our connection will grow and you’ll find a desire to choose us to be the parents and family you want for your child.

Our Story & How We Met

You might miss it at first – We’re a diverse family with lost of love that comes in a small package with a world of room to grow! We’re Jamie and Jenn—that’s Zoë Jayne and those are our pups JinJin and Zelda.

We met 16 years ago at a small church in Canada during one of Jamie’s many visits from Chicago to his mom. We’ve been married for over 13 years and have lived in the greater Chicago area ever since. Most of Jenn’s family is from Canada and most of Jamie’s family is originally from South Africa, Canada, and the US.

You’ll see that we love nature—especially outdoors—and we love building, making, and growing things together.

Over the years, we’ve grown an expanding life that radiates outward from our cuddle-close home-base as we explore our world together. We’re ready to make our family center larger and shine-out even brighter and even farther—

All to come back home and snuggle-in again.

About Jamie (By Jenn)

Jamie always reaches for the stars. He’s ever hopeful, looking to the positive side of things. He’s caring, considerate, intelligent and embraces new ideas, learning new skills and learning about new things.

Jamie is a genuine, good person who enjoys helping others. He’s there with an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and arms to embrace you when you just need a hug. He’s a whiz with a computer, a creative musician and writer, and a thinker with an eye for design. He’s the family photographer and plays host at almost every gathering we attend.

Jamie is the best father. He engages with Zoë in so many playful and imaginative activities and skills. Jamie takes the time to truly be in the moment.

As a husband and partner, Jamie is a grounding but a driving force. He keeps the fun and spontaneity alive and encourages my ideas, even if they are from left field and maybe a little crazy. He strives to be a better person every day, to find the joys in life—big, small and everything in between.

About Jenn (by Jamie)

Jenn’s amazing. Her huge heart of gold is matched only by her strong will and determination. Jenn is the one you want on your side— whatever you’re doing. Her small-town, country girl roots and sensibilities helps us hold onto things that matter most and not get lost in the whirlwinds of shiny fancies for shiny-fancy’s sake.

Jenn’s a great partner and a hard worker who’s not put-off by getting muddy (literally and figuratively). And as a parent, Jenn brings complementary strengths that flow from a common source of big love. She helps keep an eye on the details and essentials that a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed dad might miss. And she’s introduced many of Zoë’s most-relished rituals—making cookies on the floor, jumping in rain puddles, sunny-sandy picnics, and snowy winter world-building.

Jenn helps us live a shared value—to work hard, play hard, and not worry about getting a little dirty while you’re doing it.

About Zoë

Zoë loves life! She jumps into her ever-growing world of interests with intensity, excitement, curiosity, and joy.

She’s active— Zoë rides her bike, skateboards, and roller-blades wherever and whenever she can. She’s learning to swim like a fish and play soccer like a pro.

She’s smart— Zoë’s reading, writing, and math skills are advanced. She’s in a dual-language immersion program, so now she’s doing it all in Spanish too! At three, she was already a budding negotiator; at 4 she wrote a song; last year she performed with Jamie’s band—We can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.

She loves nature and the outdoors— whether she’s eating fresh snow, holding a cricket she caught, smelling a big rose, or jumping in freshly raked leaves, Zoë keeps connected with nature. She loves to play with her many (many!) dinosaurs and learn about them and “roar” like them. She knows so many by kind, by features, as well as by the personal names she’s lovingly given them.

About Our Pups

Over the years we’ve fostered and adopted many four-legged friends (one became two, two became three, and…and…)—including our lovely pups, JinJin and Zelda.

JinJin is our 15-year-old Chinese Crested. She loves going for walks, sunbathing, snuggles, and food. She loves us too, but we don’t always win out when it comes to food.

Zelda is our 5-year-old Chinese Crested mix. She is full of playful energy, loves to cuddle, to play with toys and she is very talkative (especially with the neighbor dogs).

Zoë and the pups can’t wait to have a sibling they can share and show their world. They have just one question: “Is it a boy or a girl?”

Our Home & Community

We live in a spacious house on a family-friendly street in a safe, diverse neighborhood west of Chicago.

Tucked away from busy traffic, Zoë calls our block-long street “Kid’s Street” as the many kids on the block love to play at each other’s houses and yards. Lovely ponds, paths, parks and a great school are all within safe, short walks.

Our backyard has trees, garden boxes, and a full play-set with a “house- fort,” three swings, a climbing wall, and a teeter-totter. When it’s warm we love to have bbq’s and swim in the pool on our stone patio and have picnics and play soccer on our open grass. And when it’s cold, we sit by the fire toasting marshmallows.

Inside, our open kitchen connects to our dining room and flows into a play area and a living room.

Together it’s the mainstay of our day-to-day. It let’s us talk and play with each other even when many things are going on all around.

Our home is where our family can live, learn, and grow. It’s where we love to be and love to come back to.

We hope you can see your child thriving here too.

Our Families

We’re lovingly surrounded by a diversity of people—including eight siblings plus lots of extended family and friends.

Jenn’s family—Jenn was born and raised in Canada. Her mom, siblings, nieces and nephews are Canadian as well.

Jamie’s family—Most of Jamie’s family lives around Chicago. His mom’s from Canada. His dad and family came from Cape Town, South Africa.

Thank You

Thank you for sharing this time and space with us. We’ve created a safe, abundant, supportive environment filled with unconditional love. Our home. It’s a place where we can each explore who we are, who we want to be, make mistakes, and become our best selves. And it’s where we always return. We hope it’s what you want for your child too.

We’d like to meet you and hope you’d like to meet us too!

 

Interested in seeing Jamie and Jenn’s full profile? Fill out the contact form below!

WI Family | Karl & Shelly

Karl and Shelly are waiting to welcome a child into their heart and home through open adoption. Learn more about them!

Dear Birth Mom/Family,

We are honored that you are taking the time to read our letter and consider us as adoptive parents for your child.  We have desired to be parents for many years, but have struggled with infertility. We have chosen to parent through adoption rather than seek additional treatments.

We love adventure and enjoy taking road trips, kayaking, taking walks, picking strawberries, going to the pumpkin patch, and any other seasonal activity that we can find.  We spend as much time as we can with our families and friends and are blessed to have such a wonderful support system in each and every one of them.

We admire your decision to make an adoption plan for your child, and we look forward to meeting you and learning about you and your family.  We are so excited to become parents and to experience every smile, every milestone, and every moment that a child brings. We understand the importance of open adoption and are willing to discuss options of pictures, letters, emails, and visits.

Thank you for taking the time to read our letter and look at the memories we have made so far on life’s journey.  We hope that we get the opportunity to meet you!

Sincerely,

Karl & Shelly

Our Story

We met in choir at college in 2005.  Our mutual love for music brought us together.  On October 13, we went on our first date to Olive Garden.  Just before leaving for a choir trip to Italy in 2007, Karl proposed at a park where we spent a great deal of time together.  On June 13, 2009 we got married in Shelly’s family church. Our happy family includes a dog (Charlie) and two cats (Sammie and Roo).

Karl’s Favorite Things

Color:  Blue

Food:  Cheeseburger

TV Show:  Hawaii Five-O

Movie:  Star Wars

Board Game:  Scrabble

Card Game:  Cribbage

Children’s Book:  Dr. Suess’s ABC

Season:  Fall

Hobby:  Hunting & Fishing

Shelly’s Favorite Things

Color:  Pink & Gray

Food:  Waffles

TV Show:  Gilmore Girls

Movie:  The Greatest Showman

Board Game:  Scrabble

Card Game:  Quiddler

Children’s Book:  Chrysanthemum

Season:  Fall

Hobbies: Crafting & Kayaking

Shared Hobbies:

In addition to our individual hobbies, we both enjoy singing, hiking, and kayaking.  We performed together in college and also sang for our sibling’s weddings. We enjoy hiking and kayaking for the peace and relaxation that it brings and are happy that we live close to the Fox River and State Parks.

Our Home & Community:

Our Home

We live in a new home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.  Our home sits on a corner lot so there is plenty of yard space for play.  The street is quiet, and there is very little traffic.

Our Town

We live in a small, quiet town on the river.  The town has a grocery store, a coffee shop, a couple of restaurants, and is only 20 minutes from the city.

Our neighborhood is filled with friendly families.  At the center of the neighborhood is a large park with playground equipment, soccer nets, and a huge yard.  During the summer, the town hosts children’s movies in the park to encourage family time and community.

Our Families

Our families are very important to us.  We spend as much time as we can with our parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews.  We celebrate birthdays and holidays and everything in between.  A few of our favorite activities are going to Bay Beach, going up to the family cottage, trick-or-treating, and spending time outdoors.

Thank You

Our goal as parents is to create a loving, stable home where a child can feel safe and develop into the amazing adult that he or she is meant to be.  We are both so thankful for our upbringings and hope to give a child the same wonderful home life. Thank you for taking the time to look at our profile and consider us as adoptive parents for your child.  We greatly appreciate your time and consideration and hope that we will have the opportunity to meet you.

Karl & Shelly

Interested in seeing Karl and Shelly’s full profile? Fill out the contact form below!

5 Misconceptions About Infant Adoption

Information to help you support patients and clients who are facing unplanned pregnancy.

 

  1. Someone who makes an adoption plan doesn’t care about their baby.

Through the years, we’ve counseled many pregnant or parenting clients who are struggling to figure out how to raise their child despite the complex or crisis situations in which they have found themselves. One thing all of these clients have in common is their deep love for their child and strong desire for the best possible future for their baby. It’s important to offer support without judgment, and to provide adoption resources to patients and clients who need information about their options.

 

  1. Women have usually made up their mind regarding adoption prior to delivery.

In the past year, half of our adoption placements were made by women who did not consider adoption until they were at the hospital. Our staff can provide options counseling at the hospital the same day that a woman delivers her child, and if a mother needs additional time after birth to make her decision, we can also offer temporary in-home care for her newborn. Women can’t relinquish their parental rights until at least 72 hours after birth, and they should be treated like any other woman during labor and delivery: explaining medical procedures, answering questions and using supportive language. Be flexible to their hospital plan and aware that their wishes may change.

  1. When an expectant parent receives options counseling, they feel pressured into making an adoption plan.

Most expectant parents who contact us are at the point in their pregnancy where they are choosing between two options: parenting or adoption. Over multiple sessions, their counselor will support them as they explore issues such as their support system, finances, future goals, and grief and loss following placement. Through our free and confidential counseling, we strive to empower our clients with the information and resources they need to make an informed decision for themselves and their baby.

 

For expectant parents making an adoption plan, they decide the level of communication they will have with their child’s adoptive parents before and during birth, as well as the level of involvement their counselor will have with them at the hospital.

One of our empowered moms Jasmine and her children

A quarter of the clients we’ve counseled over the past year chose to parent. And when they do choose to parent, we provide parenting resources and referrals for them, and enroll eligible parents into our Empowering Women, Strengthening Families program.

 

 

  1. It’s difficult to find an adoptive family for a baby with substance exposure or whose biological parent has a mental health history.

Over half of biological parents in our program self-report substance use and/or mental health issues, while families waiting to adopt through Holt-Sunny Ridge attend over 20 hours of training on common special needs, risk factors and long-term effects of substance exposure to a child in utero. Through the years, we have placed many children who have complex medical issues or developmental delays with the loving, permanent families they need and deserve.

 

  1. Birth parent and adoptive parent support ends after placement.

At Holt-Sunny Ridge, our staff makes a lifelong commitment to birth parents, adoptive families and adoptees. Our support for birth parents includes counseling, referrals and facilitating communication with their child’s adoptive family. For adoptive parents and adoptees, we offer individual and family therapy in our Bolingbrook office. We also provide post-adoption services including parenting workshops, coaching, trauma-informed camps and adoptee support groups.

Amy, Olivia, Loann and Nancy

The staff at Holt-Sunny Ridge wants to work with you to support your patients and clients in crisis. How can we partner with you to be a resource for women facing unplanned pregnancy?

For immediate support for a woman facing unplanned pregnancy, contact us 24/7 at 800-Baby-Mom.

 

For patient resources or to schedule an in-service training for your staff, please contact Kristina Knapp at kristinak@holtsunnyridge.org.

 

Holt-Sunny Ridge is a DCFS-licensed, non-profit child welfare agency that provides pregnancy options counseling and domestic adoption services in Illinois and Wisconsin.

WI Family | Chase & Mitchell

Chase and Mitchell are waiting to welcome a child into their heart and home through open adoption. Learn more about them!

Dear birth parents,

Thank you for choosing to look at our profile and consider us as potential parents. We’re so excited to share more of ourselves and our farm with you.

For us, it was never a question of whether we wanted to be parents. We have so much love in our family, and we’ve always known that we want to share it with a child of our own. But for all the things we are so proud to do ourselves, we can’t add to our family without having help. We want you to know that we would love and care for your child with all our hearts.

With love,

Chase and Mitchell

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