Adoption agency provides services, counseling for students

Date: 2009-09-15

By Caitlin Cullerot Email

Students facing an unwanted pregnancy have a new resource in downtown State College.

Bethany Christian Services, the nation's largest adoption agency, opened a State College branch this summer, which will serve as an extension of the agency's Lancaster location.

Local resident Jodi Stouffer, Bethany pregnancy counselor and adoption specialist, was selected to oversee the new location.

Prior to joining the agency, Stouffer, who is an adoptive parent, was a counselor for A Woman's Concern, 423 S. Pugh St., for three years.

According to a press release issued by the agency, services include domestic infant adoption and inter-country adoption with 12 different countries.

The agency will also provide free counseling to any woman considering placing her child up for adoption and for couples seeking to adopt a child, Stouffer said.

"With the university here, there are many families that have chosen to adopt, and there are many young women who might find themselves pregnant and are seeking other options," Stouffer said.

Though the State College branch of the agency does not have an official office, anyone interested in adoption can contact Stouffer and arrange to meet at local churches or a neutral location.

Stouffer said she expects the agency to thrive in State College.

"Right now, there has not been another full-service adoption agency in this county except for Hope for Kids, which got their license a month or two ago," Stouffer said. "It's a good time to open something."

During Penn State's last fiscal year, University Health Services (UHS) saw 101 students for pregnancy-related visits, said Beth Collitt, marketing manager for UHS. This number includes undergraduate and graduate students.

If a student is seen at UHS for an unplanned pregnancy, they receive counseling explaining their options, Collitt said. UHS staff is also available to discuss contraceptive options.

So far, Bethany has not been contacted by any pregnant students seeking counseling, Stouffer said. But most students were not at Penn State when the branch opened, she said, and she expects numbers to increase with the start of the school year.

She hopes the service will help students facing unplanned pregnancies consider all of their options.

"Most of the two thoughts are abortion or parenting," Stouffer said. "The most common thing I hear is, 'I could never give my baby away,' so we would talk about all of the options more."

Monthly informational meetings will be held for families interested in adoption, the next convening Sept. 22 at Oakwood Presbyterian Church, 1865 Waddle Road.

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