Republican Women host Teri Casso at December meeting

Darian Graivshark
Teri Casso addresses the Republican Women Meeting about adoptions.

Last year, according to some statistics, there were about 65,000 births in Gonzales.

Unwed women accounted for 33,500 births, and 21,000 of those births were of women who were unwed and under the age of 21.

Out of 65,000 births, 200 of those children were placed for adoption, while 912 kids successfully left foster care last year.

Teri Casso, Executive Director for the St. Elizabeth Foundation, is responsible for the placement of 199 adoptive children into homes this year, making her the leader in adoptive services. On December 13, the Republican Women of Ascension had their monthly meeting, with Casso as their guest speaker.

"How difficult must it be for a woman who is younger than 24, and unwed, to pull themselves up and make a decision that will benefit their child's future by creating an adoption plan," Casso said. "Two hundred women have been courageous enough to give their children opportunities that they otherwise may not have if they weren't going through adoption."

Adoption is the way that some women show that they love their child, because they may not have the ability to properly care for that child now. Creating an adoption plan for crisis pregnancies has resulted in less suffering for women, compared to maybe fifty years ago, because now birth mothers can watch their children grow and be involved if they want to, instead of being embarrassed and hiding about it.

"Some birth mothers won't share their experiences, and want to remain private and keep their secret," Casso said. "They want their stories to remain their own. They still have, however, made a better decision for their child by allowing other parents to adopt. Adoption is the most bittersweet thing I've ever experienced."

The Foundation focuses on birth mothers undergoing healthy births. The average amount spent on living expenses for a birth mother within nine months time is usually about $6,800 dollars. St. Elizabeth Foundation absorbs all of the expenses of a birth mother, and adoptive parents do not pay any of those costs. The only expenses they end up paying are for whatever their adoptive child needs once he or she goes home.

"We primarily do infant adoptions, but I have helped with the adoption of a five year old before," she said. "There really is not age adoption limit, though. The mothers choose their families as well, so it's not a random selection ordeal."

If the children are older when they are being adopted, the Foundation will provide services like therapy or transitioning help, because it can be more difficult for children to understand when they're older, as well as adjusting to a new family.

St. Elizabeth Foundation is not associated with St. Elizabeth Hospital. The Foundation was formed in 1988, and it became Casso's responsibility ten years ago. After Casso shared her experience with the Foundation, the new 2019 officers for Ascension Republican Women were installed into their positions by Wanda Aizpurua, Executive Vice President of Louisiana Federation of Republican Women.

The 2019 President will be Liz Harris, first Vice President will be Joyce LaCour, second Vice President is Joy Bodin, Secretary is Darcy Rizzo, and Treasurer is Rhonda Lamendola.

Follow Darian on Twitter @dariangshark.