Like many couples in love, David and Ashley married and wanted to start a family.
When they realized getting pregnant was not possible, they made the decision to explore adoption with Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans. Five days before Christmas 2015, David and Ashley lovingly welcomed their son Beckett Christian to their family; it’s a holiday they will cherish forever.
An adopted child herself, Ashley says that God led her and her husband to Volunteers of America and to their angel on earth – the Adoption Program’s social worker who shared the incredible three-year journey with them. They are especially thankful to Beckett’s birth mother for her selfless act of love and for turning to Volunteers of America for assistance with her unplanned pregnancy.
“The moment we put him in our arms, there was a bond,” says adoptive father Donald about his son, Gianni. Donald and his wife, Vanessa, brought Gianni home from the hospital almost four years ago, in September of 2011. And now, every year he gets to celebrate Father’s Day, “like any other father—it is just a wonderful feeling to be a parent.” Adoptive families are unique, but their desires for their children are universal—that they be happy and healthy.
To help create their special and loving family, Donald and Vanessa turned to Volunteers of America. Vanessa’s father had volunteered with the residential re-entry program for many years and they trusted the organization to guide them in the adoption process. Donald says he feels blessed to have been selected by Gianni’s birthmother to care for her natural born son, and to have maintained some openness in their adoption plan. Their family meets with Gianni’s birthmother and her daughter, Gianni’s biological sister, several times a year. Maintaining bonds with Gianni’s birthmother will be very important for Gianni as he gets older and starts to have questions about his adoption story. But for now, Gianni is just enjoying getting to play with his sister.
Donald and Vanessa are excited to share their adoption experience with friends, as well as other families at church and at school. “We feel like we are now stewards or ambassadors for adoption,” says Donald. Many people have asked for advice, some of which already have natural born children. “People have many reasons to adopt; some cannot conceive themselves, but others just want to expand their families and they feel called to adoption.” The couple has also spoken at a Volunteers of America adoption meeting for potential adoptive parents as well as volunteered at our annual Golf Star Classic, the sole fundraiser for the adoption program. These efforts are made with the intention of helping others to also realize their dream of becoming parents.
It is clear when you speak to Donald, why he feels so compelled to advocate for adoption—Gianni. “He is a loving, kind, compassionate kid, who can do so much. The thought and emotion that he puts behind the things that he says are inspiring.” For instance, when you ask him how his day was, he might just say, “Amazing!!” Donald is enjoying watching Gianni grow –he knows how to stick up for himself, as Donald found out looking on at a recent birthday party. “That’s what you want, to know that they’ll be ok.” But mostly, Gianni is a fun-loving and active child, exited to play any sport, especially football, T-ball, and basketball.
Donald and Vanessa are raising Gianni with care and appreciation for their son, his birth mother and Volunteers of America. This Father’s Day, with the love and support that he and Vanessa give Gianni, Donald is sure to get what he wants—a happy and healthy child.
We are proud to share the story of staff member Lori Arceneaux North, LCSW, BACS. Lori serves as the Program Manager of our Adoption & Maternity Services program, and she is also an adoptive parent.
“Adoption has tremendously impacted my life on both a professional and a personal level. After working for Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans’ adoption program, my husband and I felt compelled to turn to adoption to begin our family. We soon became foster/adoptive parents with the state. Our daughter joined our family in 2010. We have since adopted her. Through my personal experience with adoption, this has driven me to help other children like my daughter who need a forever family of their own. Currently, I serve as the chair of the Louisiana Adoption Advisory Board, a non-profit that consists of adopted persons, adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoption professionals. We seek to promote understanding and education about adoption-related issues. Also, I’m the secretary of NOLA Hope, a local foster/adoptive parent support group. We support, educate and advocate for both foster and adoptive parents and for children in foster care too.
It’s been an incredible experience to see my daughter blossom over the last four years since she joined our family. Sadly, there are so many other children just like her in Louisiana that need the same opportunity to thrive in an adoptive family. We hope to expand our family again through adoption in a couple of years. This firsthand experience with adoption has helped me to become a better social worker and to better assist the people we serve in our program. I can draw on my personal experiences to better understand their perspectives and assist them on their individual adoption journey.”
As a licensed adoption agency and a respected pioneer in issues such as open adoption, Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans’ Adoption Program has united thousands of families over many decades. We place infants in adoptive homes, counsel birth parents and adoptive parents and reach out to both groups with a variety of helping services that range from crisis counseling for pregnant women to home studies for adoptive couples. To learn more, visit our website, email us or call (504) 835-3005.
You could be the lucky winner of a 2015 Mercedes CLA250 in our raffle benefiting our Adoption Program! It’s an amazing prize with a life-changing cause. Don’t miss out–get your tickets here.
After trying to have a child for nearly their entire eight year of marriage, Donald and Vanessa contacted Volunteers of America’s Maternity and Adoption Program to inquire about adoption. Vanessa was familiar with Volunteers of America as her father has volunteered for many years with our agency. Donald and Vanessa were overjoyed when an expectant mother selected them. Their little guy arrived a few weeks early and had to spend some in the NICU, but is now very healthy. Donald and Vanessa were thrilled to welcome home their son, Giovanni Caleb (pictured left).
Lori Arceneaux-North is the Program Coordinator of the Maternity and Adoption program. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit our Adoption and Maternity Services page to learn more.
This morning Lori Arceneaux was featured on WWL with Sally-Ann Roberts. Lori is the Program Coordinator of Volunteers of America’s Adoption and Maternity program. Volunteers of America began operating maternity homes in 1915 and was one of the first adoption agencies to become licensed in the state of Louisiana in the late 1940s. Over the last several decades this program has been helping to unite families in the New Orleans area. Read more below…
Sally-Ann invited Lori and two adoptive parents to talk about their experience with Volunteers of America’s adoption services. When Jennifer and Neal found out they couldn’t have children naturally, they turned to Volunteers of America to help them adopt a child. They were ecstatic that the adoption process went smoothly and were relieved to have Lori there to help them through each step. When they adopted their son at 3 weeks old, it felt natural and bonding came instantly. Volunteers of America promotes openness in adoption but supports the birth mother in what’s best for her. As Lori explains, “We’re there to provide counseling and support to all members of the adoption triad: composed of adoptive parents, birth parents, and adopted child. Serving since the 1900’s provides stability to help throughout a child’s life. It’s very common that we receive calls long after the adoption for help or support and we’re here for as long as people need us to assist them.”
Volunteers of America has also partnered with the Dave Thomas Foundation’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program that seeks to find loving, permanent homes for both younger and older children in foster care. Lori wants people to know that “facing infertility and struggling to create their family doesn’t have to end in not having a child. There are lots of options out there.” To find out more about Volunteers of America’s Adoption Services call Lori Arceneaux at (504) 836-8714 or e-mail email@example.com. For more information from our website, click here.