Adoption program moves in new direction

Lisa DeJaco Crutcher

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer

Lisa DeJaco Crutcher sat in her office on a sunny May day surrounded by photos of her family including her two young children. 

DeJaco Crutcher is the mother of two young adopted children, happily juggling the demands of parenthood with her responsibilities as chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of Louisville.

With personal knowledge of the complex adoption process, DeJaco Crutcher is leading a major shift in the adoption program at Catholic Charities. 

The agency will no longer offer direct adoption placement. With the growing use of the Internet as an avenue for adoption, among other factors, Catholic Charities has been placing very few children with adoptive families, DeJaco Crutcher said during an interview in early May.

The changes, she said, are not meant to take away from the “wonderful work” that has been done over the years, they are meant to address the agency’s “stewardship of resources.”

Those resources will now be channeled into helping couples understand and navigate the adoption process that she described as complicated. Catholic Charities staff is available to meet with couples interested in adoption to discuss their options and to help connect them with a reputable placement agency, said DeJaco Crutcher.

“Helping people understand and navigate it will make the process seem less intimidating and more welcoming for people trying to figure out what God’s plan is for them in building a family,” said DeJaco Crutcher. “Hopefully we can give them enough information so they can pray about it, talk about it” and make a decision.

Catholic Charities staff members are able to provide information on a variety of topics, such as:

  • The home study, which is an assessment of prospective adoptive parents, to determine if they’re suitable to adopt a child.
  • Application paperwork.
  • Types of adoptions — adoptions through private or state agencies and domestic and international adoptions. 

n Issues that could disqualify individuals as adoptive parents.

In addition to the new adoption services, Catholic Charities will also continue to provide services to those who were part of adoptions in the past. The agency has adoption records for the last century, said DeJaco Crutcher. Volunteers receive and handle calls from individuals who were adopted and are now trying to trace their biological lineage.

As the adoption program changes, Catholic Charities is also working with the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Family Ministries Office to support families struggling with infertility.

The ministry, which is still developing, connects couples via email. Through this “email community,” couples can learn what the church teaches about infertility and find support in remaining faithful Catholics, said Deacon Stephen Bowling, director of the Family Ministries Office.

This “email community” will also offer companion couples to walk with those experiencing infertility. It’s an effort to let individuals know that the “church is here to help you in your difficult time in a compassionate manner that’s respectful, pastoral, compassionate, but effective,” Deacon Bowling said.

DeJaco Crutcher noted that she knows from her own experience that infertility can be a “spiritually difficult time for people.”

“You feel like you’re praying and your prayers aren’t being answered. … It can feel very lonely,” she said. There’s “real value” in being able to speak with people who have been through struggles with infertility, she added.

For more information about the email program, contact Deacon Bowling at  sbowling@archlou.org.

More information about Catholic Charities’ adoption program is available at cclou.org.

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