Allison Smith called Children’s Home Society of Virginia (CHS) in 2002 to offer her volunteer services.
“I thought it was a home for children,” she said. “And I love children. My husband and I couldn’t have our own, but I thought how fulfilling it would be to help them by volunteering.
Allison discovered that while CHS was not a home for children, it was the exact place she had been looking for. She learned about the agency’s Partnership for Adoptions program, which places older children in foster care into permanent homes.
Allison and her husband, Michael, adopted 10-year-old Terry in April 2003, then Jessica, 12; Ericka, 10; and Jaxson, 3, in 2004.
“We felt if we were going to adopt, we wanted to give a home to a child who really needed it,” Allison said.
In 2008, the Smiths decided to adopt again.
“I was turning 40 and had never had a baby,” Allison said. “I figured I was too old. My husband surprised me with a trip to Rome for my birthday, and while we were there, we prayed about it.
Three weeks after returning home, CHS called to say a 2-month-old boy needed a family. The Smiths soon welcomed Rafael to their Goochland County home.
“Adoption has been a wonderful experience,” Allison said. “It has closed that hole that was in my heart. Our family is now complete.”
Founded in 1900, CHS is a private, nonprofit adoption agency that has found permanent, adoptive homes for more than 12,500 children. The agency is headquartered in Richmond with another office in Fredericksburg. CHS also provides birth parenting counseling, temporary foster care, and search and reunion services.
CHS established its Partnership for Adoptions program in 1998. Through this program, prospective parents receive eight weeks of free training designed to help them parent a child who has been abused or neglected. There are no fees when adopting older children through the Partnership for Adoptions program. While CHS has helped facilitate the placement of more than 300 children in the foster care system into permanent homes, in Virginia alone, another 1,500 children are waiting.
Research shows that if these children are not adopted, one in four will be incarcerated within two years of aging out of foster care at age 18; more than one in five will end up homeless at some point in their lives.
“Every statistic reflects a young person who has been denied the opportunity to have a forever family,” said Nadine Marsh-Carter, president and CEO of CHS.
“At CHS, our vision is to find a family for every child who needs one.”