Lifeline Children’s Services, an adoption agency offering pregnancy counseling, a maternity home, and other pregnancy help programs, has expanded to three additional states, providing greater adoption awareness through outreach in the new locations.
Headquartered in Alabama, Lifeline now offers services in 16 states, after having added South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming earlier this year. This also happens to be the organization’s 40th year of operation, according to Edie Kortman, program director for Pregnancy Counseling for Lifeline. Outreach to pregnancy centers, hospitals, and other organizations continues to take place.
“We see ourselves as partners with pregnancy centers,” Kortman said. “They do all the great education and parenting classes. We walk alongside them and provide that (adoption) resource if women are interested in adoption.”
The organization received its Wyoming license this summer after another agency decided to leave the region. Katie Yim, social worker and pregnancy counselor for Lifeline in Cheyenne, the state’s capital, has been meeting with representatives from pregnancy centers, hospitals, the state Department of Family Services (DFS), and other groups to generate awareness of Lifeline’s presence.
“I do that so that we can have a good relationship, so that we’re not strangers to each other if we’re going to work together to serve a client,” she said.
Founded in Alabama in 1981, Lifeline started as ministry to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies.
“We were founded on quality services and quality counseling – that has really been the heart of the organization for the last 40 years,” Kortman said. “The founders started a pregnancy center to equip moms for parenting, and as they did that, they realized that some of these moms really weren’t able to parent or were looking at adoption as an option, and they did not have a good partner for that. So, they started Lifeline as the adoption piece.”
In addition to adoption, pregnancy counseling, and maternity housing, the organization is involved with international adoption, and foster care services, she added.
The foundation of all these programs is the Gospel of Christ.
“Our mission is “to equip the body of Christ to manifest the Gospel to vulnerable children,” Kortman said. “Our goal is the Gospel … and if adoption is their option, we want to love them well, serve them well, and connect them to a Gospel-centered family. We strongly consider our adoptive families as ministry partners.”
Local churches are key as well.
“It’s best if they can get connected with a local body in their community where they can be supported and learn the Gospel and grow in their faith throughout their lifetime,” Kortman said. “We love to partner with churches in those areas where we do pregnancy counseling.”
Partnering with pregnancy centers
As a pregnancy counselor, Yim has opportunity to share the Gospel when a woman contacts her. If the mother has visited a pregnancy center, that seed has likely already been planted, and she adds water to that seed.
Also like pregnancy center workers, Yim helps women understand their options and provides them information “especially on adoption because that’s where we specialize,” she said.
“Pregnancy centers are really good at helping women understand and provide what they need to be a parent, so she already has everything she needs regarding that,” said Yim. “But in terms of adoption and what that really looks like and what her rights and responsibilities are – how she gets to choose the family and stuff like that – I want to provide her with all the information she needs so she can make the best decision for herself and her child.”
She added, “I really want to partner (with pregnancy centers) so that these women understand their options well and walk with them on the journey.”
Redemption and growth
Yim recalled a client she worked with when she became an adoption advocate and pregnancy counselor.
“She was a woman who had been in the faith for most of her life and had really just fallen down the wrong path, and had really strayed from the Lord,” Yim said. “Her pregnancy was a wake-up call.”
The woman seriously considered adoption.
“She was just so filled with shame,” Yim recalled. “Her shame was something we worked on together, we prayed through, and I just encouraged her in the Lord. I also connected her with a lot of parenting resources. God used that child to really redeem her and bring her back to Himself.”
The woman chose to parent, and her life is very different than when Yim first met her.
“She is now in ministry,” Yim said. “She and her child are doing so beautifully! It’s just so great to see how God can work through such difficult circumstances, even unexpected pregnancies, to bring redemption to families.”
Clients come from all backgrounds, including ones of no faith. Kortman recalled one couple who chose adoption and who discovered, through the process, the love and compassion of Christ-followers.
The birth parents struggled with homelessness, and though they said they were atheists, they still chose Lifeline to help them along their adoption journey. They selected the adoptive parents and requested that family be at the hospital when the baby born, Kortman said.
“At discharge, the adoptive parents left with baby. The dad of the couple, who had a super rough background, said, ‘Because of the way I was treated by you guys and the adoptive family, I’m really thankful my son is going to grow up in that type of environment. You all have cared so well for us, and we know he’s going to be well-loved and cared for. I guess Christians aren’t so bad after all.’”
His statements brought great joy to the Lifeline staff, Kortman said.
“We know those seeds have been planted. The birth parents and adoptive family have an open relationship. This family is getting to be our ministry partner to this couple. It’s super-exciting!” she said.
Forty-eight adoption placements in 13 states occurred through Lifeline in 2020, Kortman said. Dismissing myths and using positive language are crucial components to helping women more fully understand, and accept, adoption.
“Women don’t understand how much control they have,” said Kortman. “We tell them, ‘You’re in the driver’s seat. You are loving, you are intentional, you are thoughtful. You are giving your child opportunities. You are making a loving plan, not giving up something.’”
“It’s really important to use appropriate language so that women understand adoption and aren’t afraid of it.”
Tweet This: It’s really important to help women understand adoption- that they are are loving, intentional, and giving their child opportunities.
As a former worker in the foster care system, Yim said she enjoys the work she does with Lifeline.
“I just love that I get to move up stream, empowering women from the beginning of their child’s life to parent them well or put them in a family who will parent them well,” she said. “My sole role is to stand up and advocate for the (biological) mom and make sure her needs are being met, making sure she gets to make the decisions on the whole process.”