Adoption Ark About Us

Date: 2009-05-03
Source: Adoption Ark

About Us

Adoption ARK is a licensed adoption agency organized by professionals who have years of experience in the adoption world. Together we have placed over 500 children. We are a team who feels that adoption is a way to change the world. Just think about it, for thousands of years nations were isolated by oceans and mountains. They were separated by different languages, different cultures and different religious beliefs. Each nation had its own way of growing and developing without the thought of outside integration from other countries. This concept was never considered and sure enough as history portrays it, hostility and rivalry were the evident outcomes. In a very casual sense, the countries were basically scared of each other. Evolution, technology and the curious nature of man have allowed us limitless means to an end. We are able to cross oceans and vast mountains in a matter of hours in today’s world but it will take years and generations to cross the cultural differences amongst nations. For us, here at Adoption ARK, our idea is to create an "Adoption Nation." The people of Adoption Nation are open-minded, and see different cultures, not as a contradiction of their own, but as a wonderful addition. People of Adoption Nation love all children because when a child is born he or she does not know the boundaries between these differences. All a child knows is that he or she is in desperate need of a mother and father and the force of loving energy that will protect him/her. Adoption Nation has no bias against race, color, or creed. Nor are we biased as to who bore the child or as to where the child was orphaned. All that that matters is our strong affirmation of love for all children and our willingness to share that love with any child from any part of the world. Adoption Nation families are eager to learn about other cultures and add them to their own. As Adoption Nation grows, its culture will become enriched by other cultures of the world. Someday, the wars will disappear and there will be no more hungry orphaned children. Welcome to Adoption ARK; please join our family of Adoption Nation.

Elina Filippova

Elina Filippova was born in Moscow, Russia. She attended Moscow State University and studied psychology with a focus on posttraumatic stress disorder. During her volunteer work for the Children's Hospital in Moscow she created support groups for children who survived the earthquake in Armenia and suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder. At that point she realized that she wanted to dedicate her future to work with children and help them have a better life. In the United States, Elina graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a degree in Psychology. She worked as a research assistant for Attachment Styles and Attachment disorders, Transition into School and various Autism projects. She worked for "U.C. Link", a support group for disadvantaged kids programs. In 1997 Elina visited her native country and was struck with the increased number of homeless children on the streets of Moscow. She found that many orphanages were closing their doors to children due to luck of funds. She came back with a strong desire to help orphans. Elina has been working as an adoption facilitator since 1999. In 2007, Elina earned her degree as a MSW from San Fransisco State University. She finds her job very meaningful and important. Her personal life mission is to impact the world by helping one person at a time, a mission that she has passed down to her two teenage daughters.

Alla Afinogenova

Alla Afinogenova was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. She received her B.A. from a prestigious Film School in Moscow. She has been living in the United States since 1992. She received her M.A. in 2000 and started to work in adoption field in 2001. She is an excellent professional and a wonderful person. She is married, with one biological daughter born in 1989 and an adopted son born in 2004. She cannot imagine her life without purpose. She believes that each child deserves a family and hopes more people will open their hearts to the children in need and give them a gift of a family. Alla loves her job. She loves to communicate with people, has passionate desire to find permanent homes for all children who are available for adoption and is proud of any case that has been successfully finalized with her help. Her experience, commitment and dedication to her job are evident. She keeps interests and needs of children close to her heart. She has a strong belief that children deprived of parental care suffer a lot during their childhood. If it is possible to match an orphan child and a loving family, adoption can be an excellent solution for all parties involved. Alla truly believes that the most important mission is to help children in need. Each successful adoption and each individual victory is a blessing to this world.

Linda Podas

Linda Podas lives in Batavia, Illinois with her husband Ed, her biological sons Kevin and Austin, and her adopted daughter Yana. She graduated from Illinois State University with a major in education and worked as an elementary school teacher prior to starting her family. Linda has served on various school committees while as a teacher and parent. She has also been a Cub Scout leader and participates in a mothers' group with her church. Linda's family adopted Yana from Russia in 2003 with the help of the Adoption ARK personnel. Yana was four years old at the time and is now thriving and doing fantastic. Prior to working with Adoption ARK, Linda served as a reference to prospective adoptive parents. She enjoyed talking with so many of our parents and developed a strong desire to do more in the field of international adoption, so she decided to become an adoption coordinator with Adoption ARK. Linda's desire to help parents and children come together through adoption is not only from the love she feels for her daughter, but also from being an adoptee herself. She understands the emotional circumstances of adoption from all angles and knows the positive difference it can make in a family.

Kim Fury

Kim Fury grew up in East Texas and moved to Houston to attend San Jacinto College. Kim spent several years working in commercial real estate managing buildings for one of Houston’s largest building portfolio companies. In 2001, Kim and her husband Paul adopted a three year old special needs child from Kazakhstan. Upon her return, Kim spent a great deal of time sharing her experience with parents in the process of adopting special needs children. Eventually, Kim took on the role of adoption coordinator for the Special Needs Adoption Project at Adoption ARK. Kim is now a dedicated mother of six and having been through two adoptions herself, she knows the physical and emotional journey her clients are going through. Special Needs Adoption is a huge leap of faith, but is a blessing and a rewarding experience.

Tina Venskus

Tina lives in the Chicago area with her husband, three children, two dogs (Missy and Max), two guinea pigs (Itchy and Izzie) and an occasional toad or strange bug that strays in reach of her son. For nine years her family consisted of her husband, biological daughter and herself. In 2001, the decision was made to follow their dream of adding to their family through adoption. In the fall of 2002, they adopted a little Kazakh girl from the Detsky Dom in Ust-Kemenogorsk, Kazakhstan. At the time of her adoption she was six years old. As is often the case, while they were visiting her at the orphanage they met a cute little Russian boy on the playground and…yes, they returned in 2004 and adopted him at the age of seven.
Prior to her journey to Kazakhstan, Tina worked in the fields of Management and Financial Consulting for a Wall Street brokerage firm. She holds a Bachelors Degree from the University of Notre Dame and a MBA. Currently, she is working toward procuring a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology specializing in the needs of post-institutionalized children. In addition, she continues her ongoing volunteer work with older Russian orphans who visit the United States each year.
Little did she know that when she boarded the Lufthansa plane headed back to America part of her heart would forever remain in Kazakhstan and committed to the children that she had to leave behind. Today, Tina spends most of her time bringing awareness to the needs of orphaned children and their desire for a family. She has worked for nearly five years as a parent referral for Adoption ARK and recently was hired as an Adoption Consultant. To say that Tina’s heart is deeply passionate about orphaned children would be an understatement. For Tina, being an Adoption Consultant with Adoption ARK is not a job, it is a calling.


Lena Kardajov

Lena Kardajov was born in Moscow, Russia. She graduated from Moscow University with a diploma in Children's Psychology and Education and received her Master’s Degree in Social Work. The duration of her education in Moscow included working very closely with orphans. Lena was in charge of volunteer work with older kids that were faced with difficult life decision. Upon graduating, she worked in many of the local baby houses and many of the children saw her as a mother figure. Lena devoted her heart and time to help these children experience the love and compassion in a family atmosphere. This allowed her to become great friends with many of the children. Thanks to her effort many of the children decided to become teachers. Lena’s favorite hobbies are theater and art. In Russia she enjoyed setting up children's plays and setting up children’s art galleries to help orphans develop their true talent. Lena found sponsors and volunteers to organize theatres in the orphanages. Lena helped the children have happy childhoods as long as they believed in magic! At that point, Lena made a decision that she would be willing to do anything and everything to change the lives of as many children as possible. She is extremely thankful to be working in the adoption field. For her, it is a chance to see the appreciation of older adopted children. Lena believes that every adoptive family is performing a miracle. It is extremely exciting for Lena to see parents that not only want infants but also pick older children to become part of their family. After working in the adoption field since 2000, Lena says that one of the biggest joys is looking at the photos on her wall of all the happy and lucky children whose lives she helped change for the better!


Dina Latkina

Dina Latkina was born in Almaty, Kazakhstan, received her Kazakh law degree and started practicing family law. Five years ago she came to the US and since then has been working for Adoption ARK as an adoption consultant. She graduated law school here in the US two years ago. Dina has been working in the adoption field since 1999. Dina spent three and a half years working as an adoption coordinator overseas before immigrating to the United States. She feels that adoption and children are an integral part of her life. Dina has seen so many happy families who found their children and so many orphans who finally have a home and loving parents. Many people say this is a miracle! This year was very important for her, she had a daughter and now they are both helping kids and families to find each other.

Alina Radoslav

Alina Radoslav was born in Romania. She graduated from a prestigious University in Timisoara with a diploma in Psychology and Pedagogy. She also received a Master of Arts Degree in Educational Management. Alina decided to learn and work in this field because she loves children. Alina began her career as a high school teacher and then moved into a psychologist position at a private counseling center in Romania. These experiences helped Alina better understand children's minds and hearts. For her, helping children is not work; it is a life style. Alina feels best when doing work that changes lives forever and brings happiness to so many families. Having the opportunity to work in the adoption field is the most rewarding and noble mission ever!

Ellen Taylor

Ellen Taylor lives in Chicago with her husband, Kent, and their three children. Together they adopted Gabriel in 1995, Noel in 1998, and Christian in 2001. After the adoption of their daughter, Noel, Ellen was drawn to work in the adoption field. Her work in adoptions has included working with birthparents, preparing homestudies for prospective adoptive parents, and providing adoption preparation training. "I love working in adoption. In fact it doesn't seem like work. One time I was so engrossed in assisting a birthmother that I completely forgot to eat lunch. For someone who never misses a meal, this was monumental, and I realized that I had to keep going in this direction." Ellen has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Ohio State University and has been a social worker for over twenty years working in the practice areas of family violence, medical social work and as an adjunct social work professor at Governors State University

Ally Griffith

Ally Griffith lives in Benicia, California with her husband Rob, a tabby cat named Dublin, a St. Bernard/Golden Retriever named Dubai and her daughter McKenna, adopted from Uzbekistan in 2008 at the age of 3.5 years old. Ally grew up in Santa Barbara, California and then attended the University of Washington in Seattle. She received a B.A. in Speech Communication with an emphasis in cross-cultural communication. During university, Ally attended one year at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. Upon graduation from the University of Washington, Ally traveled and worked around the world. She taught English in both Japan and the Czech Republic then she moved to Malaysia where she was the manager of a children’s gymnastic center. When she returned to the United States, Ally attended graduate school to obtain her elementary school teaching credential. She taught kindergarten and second grade for nine years. Ally adores children of all ages and cultures. Ally is also an adoptee herself. The combination of living abroad, loving children, and being an adoptee and an adoptive parent makes Ally want to help children of the world find loving homes. Ally loves working with families on the adoption process and she finds great satisfaction each and every time an adoption is completed!

Maeven Grish

Maeven Grish was born in Michigan and attended Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. During her time in college, Maeven discovered her passion for working with children through jobs and volunteer work. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Youth, Adult and Family Services in 2006 with a desire to help children and families. She began work as a Case Manager for a local community agency that provided services for parents whose children had been removed from the home because of abuse or neglect. With the help of dedicated professionals like Maeven, these parents worked hard to be responsible parents and reunite with their children. Maeven moved to the Chicago area in 2007 and knew she wanted to continue to work with an agency that brought families together. She is excited about working at Adoption Ark because she wants to be able to give orphaned children a loving and nurturing home. Maeven has no children of her own yet, but lives with her boyfriend, Dave and their Basenji/Labrador mix named Honey. Outside of work she enjoys eating out, playing games, watching football and spending time with family and friends.

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