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Tory Pearlstein

Program Director for Colorado Springs Adoption Alliance

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November is Adoption Awareness month and Tory Pearlstein is well aware of the important role adoption plays in the world: Tory relinquished a child 30 years ago and was herself an adopted child. She experienced the pain of not knowing her own biological parents as well as the excruciating process of finally meeting her own daughter 25 years after she had given her up in a closed adoption. She began her work with the Adoption Alliance over six years ago and brought that work to the Colorado Springs area this past fall. The mission of Adoption Alliance, a nonprofit, non-denominational agency licensed by the state of Colorado, is to find safe, loving, permanent homes for children from the United States and around the world. Since 1989 they have found families for hundreds of children through their adoption and foster-care programs.

How did the Adoption Alliance get started? Two women started Adoption Alliance in 1989. One was an adoptive parent and the other was a social worker who had a strong commitment to children. The first branch of the Denver office opened in Grand Junction over a year and a half ago, and on Sept. 8 of this year we opened the second branch here in Colorado Springs.

What types of adoption does your organization manage? There are three types of adoption. International adoption brings children here from different countries around the world and places them with families here in the U.S. This can cost up to $20,000 and can take one to two years to complete after the process initially starts. Domestic infant is the second type of adoption, and this really varies [depending on] what the adoptive parents are looking for, so it is hard to estimate the time line, but the costs range from $4,000 to $12,000 dollars. However, we do operate on a sliding scale according to income, so we can make it as financially feasible as possible for [prospective] adoptive parents. Domestic infant can also be a little higher risk because the birth mother can change her mind at any time. The third type of adoption is called special needs, which means any child a year or older, who could be from the foster-care system, is taken away from the biological parents involuntarily. This ranges in cost between $1,000 to $3,000 and I have seen the child placed in as quickly as three to six months. Many times there are siblings involved, so we like to try to keep brothers and sisters together when people are willing to take them in.

What have been some of the main obstacles to adoption? For decades adoption was run through churches and you had to be of [a particular] religion. It tended to be very limiting in what they would allow because of [a general perception of] ideal families, i.e. traditional families. About the time Adoption Alliance was created, things began to open up. [A.A.] was among the first to take the step to being open to gay and lesbian couples, mixed-race couples and single people. There used to be a lot of negative stereotypes, myths and downright lies about gays and lesbians [as parents], including stereotypes of gay men being more likely to be child abusers. Research now is contradicting that negativity.

Open adoption is becoming the primary philosophy in the adoption field and that has been growing over the past 20 years or so [based on] a lot of research looking at the damage done to families from keeping secrets and keeping people away from the truth of who they really are. It makes sense that we make those breaks from the biological parents as gradual as possible -- it makes it easier for the parents to let go if they know they have a choice in who is going to take care of the child. Still, we look at it more through the interests of the child than that of the parents.

An informal meeting for anyone interested in adoption will be held Monday, Nov. 20, at 30 East Rio Grande Street, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, contact Tory at 636-9140 or check out Adoption Alliance at www.adoptall.com

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