OGDEN — The Children's Aid Society of Utah notes its 100th anniversary this year, marking milestones of success at the same time it runs the risk of having to close its doors due to lack of funding.
Since 1910, the nonprofit agency at 652 26th St. has served thousands of expectant mothers, as well as interested and potential adoptive families, through counseling, adoption and parenting education.
"The main purpose of our agency is to provide option counseling for young women who are experiencing unplanned pregnancies. That could be parenting or adoption," said Shelly Riley, clinical director of the agency. "We help them to be successful in whatever they choose to do."
Many women with unplanned pregnancies need financial help or assistance in finding a safe environment to continue the process, Riley said.
"When they come here, they don't know if they are going to do adoption or parent," she said. "They need guidance and assistance to get to wherever they need to be and to be successful."
Success has been plentiful for the women and children who have come to the agency for help over the past century, as evidenced by the huge success board located in the main lobby area of the society's building.
One of those women who has benefited from its service is Tonya Pace, who gave up her third child, A.J., to adoption two years ago after learning of the agency through her sister.
"They let me know from the get-go that they would help even if I didn't do an adoption," said Pace, of Ogden. "They were awesome."
Pace, who did an open adoption, also continues to maintain a great relationship with the family that adopted A.J.
"I can call them at any time for a visit, and we share e-mails back and forth," she said.
Now, financial troubles threaten to stand in the way of the agency's ability to help women such as Pace.
"Money is an issue for all of us," Riley said.
Feeling the crunch from the economic downturn, the agency is struggling to keep its doors open.
"I think all nonprofits are feeling a pinch," Riley said. "People need more services, but there are fewer donations and grants."
Although the society does ask for a $22,500 adoption fee from each adoptive family, its financial stability relies on grants and donations from foundations, as well as private donors.
"The only fees that are ever paid to the agency for all the services is the one-time adoption fee when the baby is placed," Riley said. "The other services are offered at no cost. We work really hard to keep that birth parent expense low."
Although the option is there to raise the adoption fee to make up for the drop-off in grants and donation money, agency officials say they will not go in that direction.
"If we charged (for the adoption fee) what it costs to run the agency, it would be outrageous. It cuts so many good families and people out of the loop," Riley said. "We've decided that either we practice healthy social service adoption or we don't practice adoption at all. (Adoption) should not be associated with profit."
Currently, the agency is working hard to come up with the funds necessary to keep running.
"We have a plan with our board of directors to write grants and approach foundations for donations," Riley said. "But to this point, we've not been successful for a variety of reasons, mostly because there just is no money to give."
For information about donating or taking advantage of the agency's services, including continued contact between birth mom and adoptive family, call 801-393-8671 or visit www.casutah.org.
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