Northbrook’s Gift of Adoption making families whole
Michael Tews helps Sophia water the flowers in their front yard. | Alyssa Schueneman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 22, 2012 7:56PM
Anastasia and Michael Tews would have done almost anything to have a child.
They already had done everything possible to become biological parents after seven years of fertility treatments.
But it was The Gift of Adoption, a non-profit organization headquartered in Northbrook, that put a fairy tale twist to their story.
“We wanted a family, so we became foster parents and tried to adopt through the foster program, but that didn’t work. Then, we went for a private adoption and that did work,” said Anastasia, who lives in the Chicago neighborhood of Norwood Park.
“However, at the time we found out about Sophia’s biological mother, we couldn’t have afforded to adopt — no way. I just couldn’t say ‘We have to pass on this baby!’ I would have done anything I had to, but the Gift of Adoption helped us.”
Anastasia, who works part-time as a makeup artist, and Michael, a Chicago police officer, already had been working with Childrens’ Home and Aid Society to become licensed foster parents when they learned that a family member’s neighbor was pregnant and couldn’t take care of her baby. She was 18, unmarried and an unemployed.
Children’s Home and Aid already had completed a home study of the couple, so they continued to work with the agency to be approved for adoption. Anastasia noted that she was told that typical fees for an adoption were about $28,000, including a home study and legal work. The Tewes ended up paying about “only” $13,000, but that wasn’t much easier.
“A lot of times adopting parents also pay for the birth mother’s rent, groceries and a cell phone to make sure that while she is pregnant she and the baby have somewhere to live and the baby is being fed,” Anastasia said.
“I was more than happy to know our baby’s mother and help her with those things, as well as taking her to doctor’s appointments. She was making our dream come true.”
So when Sophia was born June 19, 2009, she went home with parents who had been literally awaiting her arrival for years.
“Sophia is a very smart 3-year-old now, very talkative and she loves us. She also has our personality. She is the love of our loves,” Anastasia said.
“Getting a $2,500 grant from Gift of Adoption meant were we able to pay the rest of the agency’s fees and the attorney. It allowed is to complete the adoption of our daughter.”
The Gift of Adoption, a non-profit, was founded in 1996 by adoptive parents Lucy and Gene Wyka of Grafton, Wis. They had adopted their children, and like many people, didn’t know what it took to adopt when they made that decision.
“They found when going through the adoption process, that there were multiple layers of complexity and expenses that prevented folks from adopting children,” said Doug Nash of Kenilworth, a member of the Illinois Chapter of the Gift of Adoption’s Board of Directors.
“They couldn’t do anything about the complexity of the adoption process, whether domestic or international, but they could help with the financial aspect - and it became a passion.”
Adoptive Families Magazine published a 2011 study that said the average cost of adoption is between $25,000 and $35,000 now, Nash noted.
“People often find that they have the right financials to have a child on an ongoing basis, but the upfront, one-time cost can be really daunting,” he added. “So the Wykas wanted to help reduce the barrier of the adoption cost itself.”
Adoptive parents fill out an application explaining what they’ve already paid and what they owe, as well as what sources they’ve exhausted. Their acceptance depends on demonstrated need, Nash said.
The organization provides about eight to 10 grants nationally a month, with the average grant being $3,500. Since its inception, the Gift of Adoption, has awarded a total of $12.8 million and connected 950 children to families, he added.
The organization also launched on May 24 its domestic fund in downtown Chicago, raising $90,000 to specifically target adoptions in this country, he added.
The Gift of Adoption receives more than 50 requests for financial assistance each month. On average, 20 of those meet the application criteria, but the organization only has resources to fund eight each month. Donations can increase those numbers, Nash said.
“Today we are facing historic childhood poverty rates in the U.S.,” said Mark Shriver, senior vice president and managing director of U.S. Programs for Save the Children, at the launch.
“Adoption is one way we can help bring about long-lasting change and break this crisis that is gripping the next generation of Americans.”
For more information, visit http://www.giftofadoption.org