Meet Heidi Gonzalez, AFTH’s Associate Director, Regional Supervisor of Allentown, PA & Wilmington, DE, and self-proclaimed Webmistress! Heidi’s connection to adoption goes back to before she was even born! The daughter of AFTH’s Founder Maxine Chalker who is an adoptee herself, Heidi has seen the ups and downs of the adoption process, and everything in between. I had the pleasure of talking with her further about her story in addition to learning about her work in the early days of the agenc
What have you learned about your mother’s adoption story?
I always knew that my mother was adopted. She searched for her birthparents when I was a teenager and found that her birth family only lived a few miles away. While we still have contact with her birth siblings, we don’t really interact with the rest of her birth family. We have different values and outlooks on life, which makes keeping in touch difficult. My mother always worked with kids; first in group homes and then for [Montgomery County’s] adoption unit. When she read about open adoption in California, she loved the idea and decided she wanted to open her own agency so she could plan adoptions in the way she felt was best for the whole family – the birth parents, adoptive parents and children.
Did your mom’s adoption inspire you to adopt children of your own?
No, I considered it, but wound up having biological children of my own.
What was the relationship with your mom and her birth family? Were they at all involved in her adult life?
We had a short-lived relationship with most of my mother’s birth family, but we had different values. They were very close-minded and intolerant of people of other races; long story short, we just didn’t see eye to eye.
How has AFTH connected your professional and personal lives?
I started working at AFTH before it was AFTH – when it was still The Adoption Agency! I answered phones, sent out letters, and collected client information, along with other responsibilities. As I got older and graduated college, I started working directly with clients seeking to adopt from China. I then took over our Vietnam adoption program and our newsletter. In addition, I created our first website, Twitter account, and blogs. While my kids don’t work for the agency, they have volunteered for various events over the years. My daughter Rowan used to face paint at our picnic for several years. My sister’s mural company from Minnesota created and installed the mural on our Wynnewood building (pictured below).
Thank you, Heidi for sharing your remarkable personal and professional connection!