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Adoption Agencies Say There Are More Than Enough Families Ready & Waiting To Adopt Babies

in abortion/News
Photo by Jennifer Polixenni Brankin/Getty Images
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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

With abortion currently or soon to be outlawed in at least 13 states, adoptive families are prepared to take on extra babies.  

That’s because there are more families waiting to adopt infants than there are infants to be adopted, both in Wyoming and nationwide, according to two adoption agencies licensed in the state.  

“There’s this feeling that there aren’t enough families waiting out there, so we should make (adoption) easier, more affordable, somehow change the system. But that doesn’t compute in our agency,” said  Carol Lindly, director of Wyoming Children’s Society.   

Wyoming Children’s Society has between 10 and 15 families waiting on infant adoptions right now, which is more than enough for the six to 10 placements the agency orchestrates per year.  

There’s a surplus of would-be adoptive parents nationally as well, according to Dr. Rick Morton, vice president of engagement at Lifeline Children’s Services, which handles adoptions in 16 states.  

The agency has about 100 families waiting to adopt infants and toddlers right now, and processes about 40 infant adoptions per year.  

“We feel very confident in the fact that we will have a more-than-adequate number of adoptive families, to provide families for children, (following) the changes that we’ve seen in the laws here in the U.S.,” said Morton, adding, “There are many more families who express a desire to adopt than we have the ability to even be able to bring into an adoption program at this point.”  

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision returning authority over abortions to the states, Wyoming is on track to outlaw nearly all abortions by July 29.

There were 98 abortions reported in Wyoming last year. Abortion is expected to remain legal in both Colorado and Montana, which border Wyoming.     

‘They’re Not Considering Abortion’ 

Usually by the time a pregnant woman reaches Wyoming Children’s Society, she has long since ruled out abortion as an option, Lindly said. 

“Most of the women that come to us, they’re not considering abortion, honestly,” said Lindly. “The women that come to us really have thought long and hard and are wanting to follow through with the adoption.

“I think the general public thinks ‘Oh my gosh, now that Roe vs. Wade is overturned, all these adoptions will occur,’” she continued. “I’m not sure that will be the case.”  

Lindly noted that the region still has many cultures “who don’t embrace adoption,” and she also wondered if illegal use of abortion pills or other work-arounds would be used by Wyoming women.  

Lindly said, nevertheless, one adoption reform the agency would like to see is increased counseling for birth mothers who have given their babies up, as it is a difficult and often haunting decision.  

Both Wyoming Children’s Society and Lifeline Children’s Services offer counseling for birth parents, but when adoptions are done by attorneys or other third parties, that option isn’t always offered.  

‘The Unfair Part’ 

Although most American babies given up after unwanted pregnancies should be able to find homes, adoption workers still expressed concern for an oft-forgotten group: older children and teens stuck in foster care.  

“Most people want that tiny little infant instead of a 12-year-old preadolescent boy who’s been traumatized and is acting out,” said Lindly. “But those kids need families as much as infants.”  

Korin Schmidt, director of the Wyoming Department of Family Services, also noted the dire need among older children.  

“I understand the conversation usually is about infants and children, but we really struggle with finding foster families for older kids,” said Schmidt. “And that’s the unfair part of the system when we take children into protective custody.”  

Wyoming DFS works with adoption centers like Wyoming Children’s Society, but DFS also is required by statute to try to reunite neglected or abused children with their original families wherever possible before parental rights are terminated and the children become legally available for adoption. 

DFS works with the courts to get parents or guardians into treatment. In some cases, law enforcement and prosecutors may incarcerate those parents. 

Children can be taken into foster care because of either neglect or abuse, and in Wyoming, neglect is the cause in about 65% of all cases. The term includes lack of food, lack of shelter, unaddressed parental mental health issues, substance abuse issues, or a combination of those things.  

Often, it’s teachers or other public-school workers who first refer children to DFS, which prompts further investigation.   

After a child’s guardians have undergone treatment or have been through the criminal justice system, if the home still can’t be made safe, a judge can cut off the parents’ rights to their own child, said Schmidt.

Some parents also will voluntarily terminate their own parental rights, but that’s uncommon.  

“If you’re terminating parental rights, that’s a huge decision. That’s something the system takes very seriously,” said Schmidt. After parents’ rights have been terminated by a court, the child or children become available for adoption.  

Special Kind Of Human 

Adopting teens from foster care takes a special kind of human, said Lindsey Schilling, senior administrator for DFS’ social services division.   

Foster care teens have suffered neglect, abuse or both, and can require intense supervision and guidance.  

“These kids, if they’re in our system, are here for a reason that’s been validated through the judicial process,” she said. They can require a more intense and round-the clock supervision, higher levels of childcare training, a safety plan “to mitigate outbursts,” and at least one stay-at-home parent.  

It’s also better if they’re the only child in the home.  

“It’s a very different type of home than we see in families that can take babies or toddlers and drop them off at daycare and go to work,” said Schilling.  

When no foster family or, in some scenarios, adoptive family can be found to care for the teen, he or she goes to a group home facility, which isn’t ideal.  

“We believe children should be raised in homes,” said Schmidt. “We think family-like settings are best for children.”  

Wyoming DFS is expanding its recruitment and retention efforts toward foster parents in the coming year and will be focused especially on attracting and training prospective families for teens, said Schilling.

That decision pre-dates the U.S. Supreme Court decision that turned abortion law over to the states and started the 35-day clock on Wyoming’s abortion ban.  

State Issue, State Reforms 

Besides increased availability of counseling for birth mothers, Lindly said her agency would also like to see state law require home study for prospective adoptive families, that is, a process by which adoption providers screen families and make sure they’ll be a safe option for a child.  

On the foster-care end of the issue, Schmidt said her agency would like to see more community-based services to help families before they get into trouble, and into the system in the first place. 

“Preventing kids from coming into custody is the best way we can help that system,” said Schmidt, pointing to needs for mental health service access, and “early identification” of neglect and abuse.  

“Treatment is important from the get-go,” she said. 

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Casper Police Release Information On Abortion Clinic Fire Suspect As Video Footage Emerges

in News/Crime
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Ellen@cowboystatedaily.com

A white female has been identified as a suspect who started a fire in late May that caused significant damage to an abortion clinic in Casper, according to the city’s police department.

Casper police officials on Tuesday released information about the arson suspect, asking the public to help identify her. She is believed to be of medium build and stands between 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches.

The fire at Wellspring Health Access on May 25 caused “significant” damage, according to previous Cowboy State Daily reporting.

The suspect was wearing a surgical mask for the majority of the time she was captured on surveillance footage, except for one moment when she pulled the mask down.

Police believe the suspect acted alone in the arson. She entered the building around 2:30 a.m. on May 25 and was inside for around 15 minutes, according to Casper police.

Police and fire services arrived to the clinic around 4 a.m. A witness reported the suspect was reported running away from the site – carrying a gas can and a black bag.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest of the suspect. Those with information are encouraged to call the ATF at 307-633-9400.

The FBI is also investigating the arson, as is the bureau’s policy to investigate whenever there is a violent crime that has happened at an abortion provider. The clinic will provide other services in addition to abortion.

Wellspring owner Julie Burkhart did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Tuesday.

Burkhart previously said the fire would not prevent the clinic from opening.

“This is something I’ve been afraid of happening,” she said after the fire. “I’ve worked in this field for a long time and I’ve seen vandalism, flooding, defacing property and buildings, but never arson.”

The clinic has drawn much controversy since its opening was announced last month.

The new clinic between downtown Casper and the Wyoming Medical Center will be operated by Wellspring, which is incorporated in Washington, D.C., and headed up by founder Burkhart, who is based in Colorado.

The clinic is funded by private donors and has been created and supported by a community advisory board of 15 people, Burkhart previously said. These include faith leaders, tribal communities and health care advocates.

Wyoming has only one abortion provider and 96% of Wyoming women live in a county without an abortion clinic.

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Fire At Abortion Clinic in Casper on Wednesday Morning; Police Believe It Was Intentionally Set

in News/Crime
Photo by Desirée Tinoco
20102

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An abortion clinic slated to open this summer in Casper was set ablaze Wednesday morning and law enforcement officials believe the fire was intentionally set.

While the clinic’s founder said the damage from the fire appeared to be extensive, it would not prevent the clinic from opening.

“This is something I’ve been afraid of happening,” Julie Burkhart, founder of Wellspring Health Access, told Cowboy State Daily. “I’ve worked in this field for a long time and I’ve seen vandalism, flooding, defacing property and buildings, but never arson.”

According to the Casper Police Department, police officers arrived to the clinic just before 4 a.m. Wednesday in response to a report of a business burglary.

When they arrived, they saw smoke rolling out of the clinic’s windows. The Casper Fire Department arrived on the scene and extinguished the fire.

The caller who reported the burglary said a person was seen running away from the building carrying a gas can and a black bag.

Investigators believe the fire to be intentional at this time. They are currently reviewing footage from the area to provide a description of the suspect.

Burkhart said from the outside, it appears there is “extensive” damage done to the inside of the building.

However, the fire will not stop her from opening the clinic, she said. She added that increased security measures will be added to the clinic once the damages are assessed.



Burkhart pointed to increasing violence across the country, such as the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York last week and the one at an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday, as examples of why she was not surprised the clinic was attacked.

“This is, unfortunately, a field fraught with trauma,” she said. “My former boss was murdered. So I’m just living through another traumatic moment. Violence against providers is not going to stop abortions. It’s a universal known that people have abortions and this isn’t going to stop anything.”

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.

Casper Police spokeswoman Rebekah Ladd and Casper Fire spokesman Dane Anderson did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Wednesday.

The clinic has drawn much controversy since its opening was announced last month.

The new clinic between downtown Casper and the Wyoming Medical Center will be operated by Wellspring, which is incorporated in Washington, D.C., and headed up by founder Burkhart, who is based in Colorado.

The clinic is funded by private donors and has been created and supported by a community advisory board of 15 people, Burkhart previously said, including faith leaders, tribal communities and health care advocates.

Currently, Wyoming has only one abortion provider and 96% of Wyoming women live in a county without an abortion clinic.

Right to Life of Wyoming President Marti Halverson previously told Cowboy State Daily that the clinic is an “abomination” and that her organization was already looking at several avenues to thwart its completion and opening.

Sheila Leach, president of the Park County chapter of Right to Life of Wyoming, also expressed dismay at the news of a clinic in Casper and said that there is an ongoing grassroots effort involving pro-life activists across the state who are galvanizing in opposition to new clinic.

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