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August 2011

Helping people help themselves

The Village Family Service Center assists in fulfilling a family dream for Doosan staff member and his wife

When Aaron and Kari were married in November of 2004, among their many shared dreams was to become parents. Whenever the subject of children and parenthood surfaced, the couple’s debate was not when, but rather, how many. Aaron, a segment application marketing manager for Doosan Infracore Construction Equipment (parent company of Bobcat), and his bride revisited that dream often during the first several years of their marriage however, after receiving a discouraging medical diagnosis that they would likely not be able to conceive, the subject of children took a much different turn. That’s when the couple reached out to The Village Family Service Center.

The Kleingartner Family

Kari, Aaron, and their son, Matthew.

At the suggestion of their pastor, Aaron and Kari first contacted Lutheran Social Services to inquire about the adoption process. It was during that visit the couple learned the two organizations work collaboratively to help couples become parents and families.

“Adoption certainly wasn’t a decision Kari and I made overnight,” Aaron says. “Ultimately, it was the best solution for us.” The Village Family Service Center was there to guide us through each step in the process, answer all our questions and assist us in every way possible. It seemed a bit daunting at first, both logically and emotionally, but The Village made it really easy. Now, we have been blessed with an awesome little boy who has made our dream of becoming parents come true.”

Julie Kloster, the adoption counselor at The Village who consulted with Aaron and Kari throughout says the foundation of the process is openness and communication.

“When both the adoptive and birth parents understand that ultimately, each wants what is in the best interest of the child, the process becomes less fearful,” Kloster says. “It begins by establishing a comfort level that stems from an open and honest assessment of shared values. Adoption services have evolved far beyond the once-held traditional views of many people. Open adoption offers the opportunity for birth parents to have a voice in choosing their child’s future, and most importantly, to be connected to the child as he or she grows up. We work with both the birth and adoptive family to develop the type of adoption that is mutually compatible for all.”

Although Aaron and Kari recognize there are children all over the world that need a loving home, the West Fargo couple chose the North Dakota Infant program because they also felt there were children locally with the same needs. They also desired a child that had a heritage similar to theirs. The North Dakota Infant program was also within the couple’s financial means, another factor that is also an important consideration of the adoption process. This is one of several adoption options offered and facilitated by The Village.

“Our counselor was absolutely awesome and made the whole process easy to follow,” Kari says. “Working through the various stages of the adoption process is quite emotional, but Julie really understood the psychological aspects of adoption, as well as the legal, and was there at every step to lend support.”

Since 1891, The Village Family Service Center has helped area children and families improve their lives. Established initially as a home for orphaned children, The Village existed at that time primarily as a sanctuary for those who often had no place to go. But over the years, it became more apparent that it wasn’t just kids who were in need of help, so The Village began to expand service offerings to include individual and family counseling, child care, mentoring and adoption — even financial counseling and workplace issues management.

Today, the Village reaches out to more than 80,000 people every year, and continues to adapt services to meet the changing needs of modern life, and has been the sole beneficiary of The Bobcat North Dakota State Open since Bobcat Company became the tournament’s corporate sponsor in 1984.

"Our longstanding partnership with Bobcat Company is a perfect example of what is right about the folks of our community and our region,” said Gary Wolsky, president and CEO of The Village Family Service Center. “The generous support of Bobcat Company through the years means that kids and families get the extra help they need. We're building a brighter future one family at a time. Aaron, Kari and Matthew's story is a testament to this."

“Becoming parents obviously changed our life in many ways, all of which were awesome,” Aaron says. “The Village has given us something we had dreamed of since we got married. We often say that we can’t remember what our lives were like before Matthew arrived. Thanks to the good folks at The Village, the disappointment we faced when learning we would be unable to become biological parents has long been forgotten. Matthew is not our adopted son; he is our son, pure and simple.”

For more information about Village Family Service Center, visit www.thevillagefamily.org.