Planned Parenthood of the Heartland now will offer adoption services in Nebraska through a partnership with the Mason City, Iowa-based Avalon Center.
The Avalon Center, which is licensed by the State of Nebraska, will have adoption professionals in Planned Parenthood’s health centers in Omaha and Lincoln with office hours and a 24-hour phone line for individuals and families interested in adoption.
Melissa Grant, regional director of health services for Planned Parenthood, said the addition is exciting because it will allow the organization to take clients interested in adoption all the way through the process.
The organization long has counseled women and families on all of their options when facing an unintended pregnancy — adoption, parenting and abortion.
Previously, however, Planned Parenthood has had to refer clients to an outside organization to discuss the details of the adoption process, Grant said.
Now the organization can help clients finish the entire process. “It (is) helpful to have someone right here on site who could take that next step,” Grant said. “It felt more supportive.”
But Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, said it seems “incongruous” that Planned Parenthood would be offering adoption counseling in the same locations where it provides abortions.
“Our only hope is that more mothers will choose life if they hear more about adoption,” she said.
Grant said the important thing is for the organization “to give a clear message that Planned Parenthood is doing everything it can to provide information on all options in a supportive environment.”
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which serves Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, has partnered with the Avalon Center to provide adoption services in Iowa since 2004.
The Avalon Center has been licensed as an adoption agency in Iowa since 2002, said Leah Weber, the nonprofit organization’s executive director. The organization typically assists with 10 to 15 domestic adoptions a year.
Staff members, all of whom have master’s degrees, will work both with women seeking to place a child for adoption and with prospective adoptive parents.
The organization will be looking for Nebraska families interested in having contact with the birth parents. Some amount of contact has become the norm in domestic adoptions, Weber said.
As time goes by, the organization expects referrals from organizations in addition to Planned Parenthood, she said. Its staff can work with people all over the state.
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