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In my work with Lutheran Social Services over the past 29 years it is a common occurrence when making public presentations to have someone share their adoption story with me These conversations are sacred There are sometimes tears Always joy The story shared is a blessing Even if you don t have adoption as a part of your personal story you likely only need to look to the quest of genealogy research so common today to at least understand the emotions of this experience Genealogy is not just a pass time or hobby for people it is a part of the human condition Janell Regimbal VP Children s Services This edition of the Messenger is a window into the world of so many touched by adoption I hope that you take away from these real life stories the very courageous decision involved when birth parents first of all chose life and then putting the needs of their child first make the love based decision of adoption We at Lutheran Social Services have been engaged in bringing families together through adoption dating back to our roots in 1919 The stories are worth telling They are full of love courage grief resilience and an intricate pattern of lives connected in unique ways We all crave the knowledge of a deep understanding of who we are and where we have come from What situations surround our beginnings our culture our family medical history our curly hair and our funny laugh The unknown can cause us to wonder and to try to fill in the gaps There is grief and loss embedded in all our stories But for those touched by adoption the stories help compose the richness of our lives I was chosen by my parents that gave me life and by my parents that gave me the tools to live it I went from wanted to wanted From cherished to cherished I grew in the hearts of many I was the missing piece in grafting families together in unity I went from loving arms to loving arms I was adopted Jammie Elkins
In my work with Lutheran Social Services over the past 29 years, it is a common occurrence when making public presentation...
Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota and The Village Family Service Center working together in a collaborative partnership since 1999 provide all aspects of services related to adoption Services are offered in the home communities of our clients when at all possible with the agency s offices in Bismarck Fargo Grand Forks Minot and Williston as operational hubs We strive to educate and support clients with their individual needs through three different areas of service An unplanned pregnancy can seem like the end of the world We understand the fears and can help those experiencing an unintended pregnancy look at options and create without pressure a personalized life plan before or after the birth of the child The adoption process provides an opportunity for families to learn about adoption Staff work with clients to determine the best possible adoptive home for their child and to help prospective parents prepare for the uniqueness of their adoption plan Search and Disclosure Services to help adopted adults birth siblings and parents establish contact with one another after mutually agreeing upon it We can also help adopted adults receive non identifying information from their adoption
Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota and The Village Family Service Center working together in a collaborative partner...
Mother s Day 2016 was unforgettable for Wendy Novak who was recently reunited with Heather Swenson the daughter for whom she made an adoption plan for at birth 36 years ago It s a story Wendy calls a happy beginning and one that answered many questions she had through the years about her daughter including Would she ever want to meet me The answer came joyfully when Wendy and Heather were reunited on January 21 Heather s birthday through Lutheran Social Services Adoption Option Reflecting on the moment when they finally met Wendy said It was like I had always known her Wendy recalled those moments when she was a young college student who moved to Fargo after learning she was pregnant and anguished over deciding what was best for her child I wanted her to have everything she ever needed in this world And I didn t know if I could give that to her Today looking at Heather she said There was not a birthday that went by when I didn t think about you Through the years I hoped and prayed that everything was good with you and that maybe someday we would get to meet After submitting the paperwork to begin a search Wendy met with Cindy Skauge from Adoption Option It wasn t too many weeks later we met again and the first thing she said was I found your daughter And I thought Can I say it like that Can I still call her my daughter Cindy suggested that I write a letter to Heather which I did On December 17 2015 Cindy contacted Wendy and told her Heather wants to meet you on her birthday God answered my prayers Wendy exclaimed
Mother   s Day 2016 was unforgettable for Wendy Novak, who was recently reunited with Heather Swenson, the daughter for wh...
Wendy and Heather corresponded through email over the next few weeks but those encounters didn t match the day when on January 21 they met in person just the two of them before other family members joined in for a birthday celebration That first hug was so incredible Wendy tearfully said My parents always told me I was adopted Heather said And knowing they weren t my biological parents made it special I was chosen And I knew that I could search for my birth mother when I turned 18 but I didn t think about it much until I was in my mid 20s when I called Lutheran Social Services and got the paperwork but never filled it out My parents supported me either way After more than three decades of wondering and hope Wendy and Heather agree This is an awesome story and one that is just beginning Photo credit Fargo Forum
Wendy and Heather corresponded through email over the next few weeks, but those encounters didn   t match the day, when on...
When she left Romania at age five with her American adoptive parents Elena left behind the squalid conditions of orphanages and entered a new world of opportunity and hope But she also left family including her birth mother Today Elena is a 21 year old college student who recently set in motion an attempt to go back to Romania to find her birth mother After submitting the paperwork she met with Adoption Option social worker Cindy Skauge and felt a rush of emotion I stepped into the LSSND building and thought this is the same place where my parents first came when they wanted to adopt Only days after her birth in 1995 Elena s birth mother released her for adoption which led to her living in a series of orphanages for the next few years Most of those memories for Elena are not happy ones Most of my life I ve wondered about Romania and who my mom was It would be really good for me to meet to find out what happened back then The country was really poor then and it wasn t unusual for mothers to withdraw from their children I hope to go to Romania soon not just to meet my mom but to also visit the country to see how much it s changed It s also a closure thing for me on this chapter of my life In her future Elena hopes to work to raise awareness of adoption and be an advocate for children of adoption
When she left Romania at age five with her American adoptive parents, Elena left behind the squalid conditions of orphanag...
Lutheran Social Services staff is here to help pave the way for all the parties to proceed in the way that is most comfortable and with support and assistance needed along the path to more fully understanding their family history Under the North Dakota Disclosure Laws an adoptee can request a search at 18 years of age A birth parent can request a search for the child they had placed for adoption once the adopted individual reaches 21 years of age and a birth sibling can also search after the adoptee is 21 years of age said LSS social worker Cindy Skauge Our agency provides the birth family history for the adoptee which is called a non identifying search and if they wish to have contact we assist them in this type of search which is called identifying In an identifying search whether we are searching for the birth mother or for the adoptee everyone has the right to give permission for contact or to decline which often depends upon their circumstances It is common to have some level of anxiety about what they may discover about their birth family and whether that family will be open to have contact The unknown can be stressful but often taking the steps to search can lead to healing and positive outcomes where questions now have answers The rights that biological parents and adoptee s have under the search laws allow them to request no or limited contact with one another or fully exchange identifying information If they are planning on meeting I encourage them to take it slow to email or have phone calls before actually meeting We are here to help facilitate contact in a way that is comfortable for all parties Skauge explained Skauge added that it s a bonus if they can locate the birth father Then we have both sides of the medical history for the adoptee Both birth parents play an important role in the adopted person s life and in the life of the extended family formed through adoption For more information or to begin the search process please contact Cindy Skauge by email at cskauge lssnd org or by telephone at 218 205 1365
Lutheran Social Services staff is here to help pave the way for all the parties to proceed in the way that is most comfort...
The flooding of the Red River and Red Lake River in 1997 continues to hold the record for the highest waters in the Grand Forks area Thousands of homes businesses and communities were destroyed or damaged by the rising waters It still is hard to see videos of the impact even 20 years later Joan Buchhop coordinator of Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response explains Lutheran Social Services joined together with Northeast Human Service Center to form Disaster Outreach the FEMA funded crisis counseling grant in effect for 18 months that addressed the mental health recovery needs of the citizens of the northeast region of the state At the height of the disaster 101 staff were deployed out in the neighborhoods and rural communities providing assistance and a listening ear to those grieving the loss of their homes and possessions Lutheran Disaster Response another crucial team player provided equipment donations management case management rebuild and volunteer management During the flood they worked with the Great Plains Food Bank to gather and provide more than 170 truckloads of food to those in need
The flooding of the Red River and Red Lake River in 1997 continues to hold the record for the highest waters in the Grand ...
It was the first time that everyone really worked together in recovery on such a large scale in North Dakota We continue to follow that model today Buchhop says It was a lot of work Our disaster work always gives healing help and hope to those impacted especially when all they have to cling to is their faith It s what we do and what we did in Grand Forks Today the Disaster Response program works to prepare communities for disasters like the Red River flood of 1997 while also responding to current disasters like the hail storm in Killdeer in 2016 It is nearly impossible to predict when or where a disaster will strike It is possible however for communities to prepare for what may happen Disaster preparedness readies people for the unexpected and allows for a more organized timely and efficient response when disaster strikes Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response provides communities families and individuals with the help they need for the unique disaster they re facing be it flood tornado or any other kind of disaster with the resources and volunteers needed Photos taken from Lutheran Social Services 1997 issues of the Messenger
   It was the first time that everyone really worked together in recovery on such a large scale in North Dakota. We contin...
Giving Hearts Day 2017 This year s Giving Hearts Day brought new beginnings to clients at Lutheran Social Services with record breaking donations from old and new donors Our theme Come Together symbolized our efforts to work together with North Dakota communities to provide the best quality services to those in need At the 2017 ceremony LSSND walked away with three awards including Best Use of Social Media The Stretch Award a significant increase in new donors and The Rising Star Award an increase in total donations by at least 25 Building Bridges 2017 Conference The 17th annual Building Bridges Conference held in March brought on thoughtful conversation revolving around the theme Strengthening Partnerships for Strong Foundations This year s conference hosted discussions regarding refugee youth and their unique circumstances and needs within our communities and included a book launch see back page for more Conference goers heard several powerful themes throughout the conference resilience accompaniment and belonging learned about pragmatic approaches to traumainformed mental health services and left with new ideas to help kids thrive
Giving Hearts Day 2017 This year   s Giving Hearts Day brought new beginnings to clients at Lutheran Social Services with ...
Training Partners in Child Welfare Abound Counseling will be providing a one day training for social workers foster parents and anyone working in or with child welfare The training will be held at Lutheran Social Services in Fargo from 8 30 a m 4 30 p m on Monday September 11 Continuing education credits will be available for social workers in North Dakota and Minnesota and foster parents can request training credits through their licensing agency For more information on this training visit www lssnd org Restorative Practices Training Restorative Practices are a continuum of informal and formal strategies to build community and repair relationships These practices are being implemented in schools in the region as a strategy to create safe schools improve school climate and decrease suspensions LSSND s experienced trainers partner with schools to build classrooms where every student can thrive academically and build relationships Peter the Slug Lutheran Social Services translators worked with Peter Schultz of Longspur Prairie Fund Impact Foundation to translate his children s story Peter the Slug into Arabic and Nepali The two translated versions were published this spring Peter the Slug made an in person visit to LSSND to meet some kids who came to hear the story Books can be purchased on Amazon com by searching Peter the Slug
Training - Partners in Child Welfare  Abound Counseling will be providing a one-day training for social workers, foster pa...
Green Card Voices is a nonprofit organization that shares the narratives of rst generation immigrants and refugees in order to foster a better understanding between the immigrant refugee population and the receiving community Ms Rozman Clark born in the former Yugoslavia assisted students from Fargo South High School in sharing their unique stories of immigration The Green Card Youth Voices exhibits used during the conference are now available for display Fargo Grand Forks 3911 20th Ave S 58103 412 Demers Ave 58201 701 235 7341 701 772 7577 Bismarck Minot 1616 Capitol Way 58501 1905 2nd St SE Ste 1B 58701 701 223 1510 701 838 7800 Devils Lake Williston 423 6th Ave NE 58301 603 Main St 58802 701 662 8017 701 774 0749 Guided by God s love and grace Lutheran Social Services brings healing help and hope Est 1919 www lssnd org LutheranSocialServicesND LSSND company lssnd NONPROFIT ORG U S POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO 1071 FARGO ND P O Box 389 Fargo ND 58107 Email clogan lssnd org for information on purchasing books or how to host the exhibit at your church school or place of business Video storytelling and a study guide accompany the displays The Books are also for sae at many Fargo based bookstores Visit www lssnd org greencardvoices for more
Green Card Voices is a nonprofit organization that shares the narratives of    rst generation immigrants and refugees in o...