Marilyn Rich is our Central PA District Supervisor and Search Coordinator. As an adoption search coordinator, Marilyn works to reunite long lost family members. Prior to working with AFTH, Marilyn worked in reproductive health care, where she assisted women facing unplanned pregnancies. Marilyn was always familiar with our agency because she often would refer women to AFTH. “I always liked AFTH because they were empowering and respectful to all clients,” Marilyn shared.

In 1993, Marilyn met with Adoptions From The Heart Founder, Maxine Chalker. “We are both adoptees, so we could relate to one another,” Marilyn explained. Maxine is someone who inspired Marilyn professionally. AFTH is notable for ensuring the education of all of the options available when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, support throughout the whole process, and support after the process is over. “Adoptions From The Heart is a business, but Maxine always manages to show all of her clients respect, business aside; and that is something I really respect,” Marilyn said. 27 years ago, Marilyn joined the AFTH family.

Most likely stemming from her adoptee roots, Marilyn was inspired to become an adoption search coordinator. Years ago, there were changes in the commonwealth that created new abilities for people to reconnect. Therefore, training was in order and representatives were needed to assist with this new phenomenon. As a result, Marilyn went to trainings and became an Adoption Search Coordinator.

Marilyn’s favorite part of her job is seeing all of the stars align when families are brought back together, forming a lifelong connection. Search Coordinators encounter a lot of emotional situations. “The hardest instances are when an adoptee really wants a connection, but due to the circumstances of the placement (rape, family disfunction, etc.) the family refuses to connect because they don’t want to revisit the trauma,” Marilyn explained. When thinking about loss in life, Marilyn often reflects on a quote from Rabbi Earl Grolman. “Please do not try to destroy part of your past when remembering hurts. Yes, we are children of today and tomorrow but we are also children of yesterday. The past travels with us and what it was, is what we are.” All adoption counselors, like Marilyn, celebrate the lives of all the members of the adoption triad. They embark on a journey together that includes all of the gains and all of the losses. On the contrary, Marilyn also witnesses instances that are positive upon belief. “Seeing the resilience of humans is always unbelievable. Hearing what some of these people have gone through, and their ability to overcome, always blows me away,” Marilyn shared.

Marilyn attended a training with psychotherapist Dee Paddock, during which time she learned important tools that have helped her in her work. During that training Dee shared what adoption means to her, and it’s been a quote Marilyn has resonated with ever since. “Adoption is joy and sorrow which is always being woven together in this tapestry we call family. Adoptees may have issues around separation, loss, abandonment, rejection, and identity that birth children in intact birth families do not have. When we educate the prospective adoptive parents we ask them to share their deepest loss. They weave this loss into their lives and they are the model for their children for how to hope with great loss and great joy in the same experience.”