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Dear social worker,

You've been such a good friend to me...just by being your wonderful self.

Just want to send a little note to thank you & the staff for everything you have done for me. Not only have you been a great comfort to me but you have really been a shining light for me throughout this whole process. As you know this is a difficult time with many hard decisions but you have made this all very easy for me & my family. Thank you so very much! I hope this note will bring a smile to your face & know you are amazing! Thanks again,

Ashley,

A little bit about my experience with ACF. I signed the papers for adoption 8 months ago and I still don’t regret it.The best thing I’ve ever done was dial 305-653-2474 when I found out I was pregnant.I have nothing but excellent things to say about them.My caseworker, Stacey, has gone way above and beyond for me. Like a family member they treat me still. I have the BEST adoptive parents; better than I ever could have imagined.I encourage any mother who is not in the position to give their child all they deserve to call Advocates for Children and Families.

Melissa,

Dear ACF,

I wanted to write you and say Thank You for everything you have done for us. I am so happy that I found your agency because all of you are so wonderful and I don't think that we would have been able to get through all of this without you and everyone there at ACF. This is the hardest thing we have ever had to go through and I appreciate knowing that all of you are there for us if and when we need you. Words cannot express how thankful I am that you brought Anna and Ben to us because I know in my heart that they are the best parents for Colton and that they will love him unconditionally. I started reading the book you lent to me and I feel like it's going to help me through this. Also I recieved an email with a couple pictures that I am so grateful for. If you talk to them please be sure to let them know I said thank you for that and that I cannot wait for the first month pictures and letter. After reading some of the book, I am going to work on writing a letter to Colton, explaining my reasons for choosing adoption so that when he is old enough, he can know what happened so he doesn't think that I didn't love him. I think that's my biggest fear is for him to think that I didn't want him or love him because that's not true, I wish things were different so I could have raised him and held him and loved him every day, but just like a letter in the book says, you can't get by on love alone. Please let everyone at ACF know that you are all in our prayers and we are so thankful for people like you.

Liz,

At the beginning of March, 2014 I got the shock of my life - not only did I find out I was pregnant, but I was more than 24 weeks along. How can that possibly be? My last period (or so I thought) was in January!But yet, there on the screen a very developed baby was staring back at me.What the heck was I going to do? Forty years old, divorced, a 15 and 9 year old at home....this was NOT in my plan. Not something I wanted, not something I had ever thought would happen to me.

After the shock wore off (ok, maybe not wore off, but subsided a bit), I had to explore my options. Keep the baby or adoption. As a devoted mother and absolute lover of children (especially my own) adoption seemed like something I wouldn't be able to do. Now that I knew there was this life growing inside me, how on earth could I give it up? But the more I thought about it, the more I knew that keeping the baby was going to be an impossibility. The father helping or being part of the baby's life was not an option. I have no extended support system in place, it's just me. Financially andemotionallythis was not something that I could do. Being the mother of a 15 and 9 year old, I already know what it takes to raise a child. I remember how hard it was when I was married and had a support system in place. I could not do this alone. I would come to resent that sweet life and what would that attitude do to my children? I would be angry, resentfuland not the mother that they all deserved. So, I did what everyone in this day and age does, I googled "adoption agencies in Florida." The list came up, I clicked on the first one I saw Advocates for Children and Families.

I read a little about the process, then decided to look at the families waiting to adopt. Reading their stories and thinking to myself "how can I pick someone to take care of my baby?" This is going to be impossible. After almost a week of reading through the website, I sent the email that put everything in motion.

Even from the first email response, I felt at ease. After a few emails and speaking to Meg, I knew that this was the place and I didn't need to look any further. Throughout the entire process, there was a level of care that I received which showed me that my feelings, my journey and my decision were the most important things. Meg put me at ease and her genuine care came through with every conversation and interaction we had.

When it came time to pick the family, I had no idea how Iwas going to do this. Once I started looking at the stories of the families, Ikept goingback to one.No matter which other family I read about, I kept thinking about them.This was it, once I told Meg who they were, the real journey would begin. Sure enough, the next morning after telling Meg, the family had already been notified.I was excited and scared all at the same time, but Meg was there with me every step of the way.

Another aspect I was not prepared for was how I would feel once I met the couple I had chosen.I knew my decision was the right one from the beginning and I have never doubted that. Over the couple of months, I got to know them and we grewclose. We kept in touch through phone calls and text messages and I saw their geniune care for not only the baby they were waiting for, but for me as well. I tried to make the experience of the baby's birth as much for them as I could. They came to doctor's appointments, ultrasounds and even drove me to the hospital the day my c-section was planned. She was in the room with me when the baby was born and stayed with me every night taking care of both me and the baby. Although I've been told this is not the "norm", our experience together, the adoptive parents and myself, is one that can never be described. It was beautiful and I am blessed to have been an integral part of it.

The day I signed the papers was just another example of how Advocatesand Meg made me feel at ease. During the whole process, as difficult as it was, I was constantly assured that my feelings mattered andthat I could take my time. Everything was explained to me with great care and compassion. I cannot fully express my gratitude for that in any number of words.

Knowing that I have helped this couple have their dream of afamily is something that I cannot describe. I wasn't sure how I would deal with an open adoption, but knowing the couple as I do now, I know that I am a lucky woman in that I get to see that sweet baby girl grow up knowing who she is, how much her parents love her and also see thelife she is having - something I know I could nothave given her. Even if I should lose contact with the family, I can still see this through the agency.

The decision, although a difficult one, is one I don't regretin any way, shape or form. I am thankful for Meg and for all the support she has given to me.

M.,