In an abortion clinic in North Carolina, there’s a banner bearing the words: “You still have options. Call Bethany Christian Services.” It may be the last thing a young woman sees before she follows through with her abortion—or it may be the last thing she sees as she considers it and walks out of the clinic.
Founded in 1944 and headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich., Bethany Christian Services is the nation’s largest adoption agency—there are more than 75 locations in more than 32 states, as well as international partners serving orphans living on five continents. From counseling women with unplanned pregnancies, to an embryo adoption program, to helping teens in foster care, Bethany helps at every level.
“Our mission calls us to demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ,” says John VanValkenburg, a spokesperson for the organization. “We are committed to finding the best families for children in need around the world.”
In addition to pregnancy counseling, Bethany also offers family counseling, foster care programs, refugee services, orphan care and an infertility ministry called Stepping Stones. They also run impregnant.org, a website with resources for anyone experiencing or affected by an unplanned pregnancy.
“We assess the needs of every woman who comes to us for pregnancy counseling, and work collaboratively with her to find ways to meet those needs, whether it’s referral to community resources or direct financial assistance,” says Kris Faasse, the director of adoption services.
Bethany is made up of trained counselors and social workers who provide pregnancy counseling services, as well as trained volunteers who answer the 24-hour phone line.
The organization has seen many success stories—including the 1,709 children who were placed in 2008. One woman who benefited from Bethany is Felicia McKee. She had an abortion when she was 17, and suffered from terrible guilt for the next 20 years. After hearing a female evangelist speak about abortion at her church, she realized she had to stop punishing herself. Then, at 40 years old, she experienced another unplanned pregnancy. Rather than following through on her knee-jerk reaction to have an abortion, she searched online for “adoption.” Bethany came up as a result.
With counseling and support from the organization, McKee gave birth to her daughter, and they now have an open adoption, giving them the opportunity to have a relationship.
“It’s not just about saving babies—it’s about saving the moms and dads of these babies from the guilt they may experience,” she says. “And it will help save women who suffer from all the physical ailments that can result from an abortion.”
To learn more, visit Bethany.org.