LSS has its own adoption superstars. Karalyn Heimlich, now retired as the statewide director of adoption for LSS, and Konnie Gregg, current director of international adoption, were in the trenches in past decades as the adoption world adapted to all the trends, legislation, and reform. Heimlich joined LSS in 1975 and her career also included heading up unplanned pregnancy services, and post-adoption programs such as marriage education for adoptive families. “The changes in the world of adoption represent the journey,” Heimlich explained. “The important thing is to keep your eye on the mission: All human beings, especially children, thrive in a loving environment that provides a sense of belonging. That is what adoption is all about.” Gregg, who has also been with LSS since 1975, has worked in all aspects of adoption, and agrees that “It’s a constantly changing, challenging and very satisfying field to be engaged in.”
At the LSS home office in Austin, Tanya Graham oversees domestic adoptions, and confirms that the number of domestic placements is on the upswing. “Couples experiencing infertility are seeking to help others understand that there is truly another option to an unplanned pregnancy. Adoption awareness is about changing people’s perceptions about the option of adoption,” Tanya explained. “When the focus is on ‘what can I provide for my child through adoption?’ as opposed to ‘how could I give my child away,’ it makes the process easier to grasp. Adoption is the joining of two families who basically need each other, and can provide love and support to each other, with the ultimate best interests of the child in mind. With the options available to biological parents to choose what family they would like to raise their child, and to have continued contact in letters and pictures to follow the growth and progress of the child, they can move forward with their lives knowing that their child is safe and loved, and will ultimately know the love their birth parents had for them by choosing adoption.”
LSS CHILDREN’S SERVICES TODAY
LSS Children’s Services ultimately must meet the needs of the primary client … the child. Because all children, adopted or otherwise, thrive in loving homes, the primary goal for the children we serve is permanency. Through the LSS Foster In Texas (FIT) program, an average of 150 children in foster care are adopted by their foster families each year. For teenagers, who age out of foster care at 18, “Foster-to-Adopt” families provide forever families, a place to call home, and open up opportunities for more secure, productive futures. During National Adoption Month this past November, more than 30 children in Texas were adopted into loving, forever families through the LSS-FIT foster-to-adopt program.
LSS is in partnership with the Adoption Coalition of Texas and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids™ (the signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®), to place foster children—particularly older children, sibling groups and children with special needs—in permanent adoptive homes.
Because LSS has been counseling individuals about making adoption plans for over 60 years, the adoption workers have a lot of experience to share. Konnie Gregg and Tanya Graham are available to answer any questions about adoption – helping to pave pathways toward making this unique form of family.