Category Archives: counseling

Warning: Use of undefined constant php - assumed 'php' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/customer/www/ on line 18

Parenting Success Story: Kelsey

Many women who come to CPO during their crisis pregnancies choose to parent their child. We are happy to support them in their efforts with counseling, mentors, parenting classes, and more. From time to time we would like to highlight one of our parenting success stories. This is the second installment in our series, again written by Ashley Ledbetter.

Spending time with the parenting women and birth moms who have found their way to CPO is an enlightening experience. Not only because of their strength and determination but because they have tasted parts of this life that go largely unnoticed by those of us who have not shared in their circumstances. Stepping into the shoes of a girl experiencing an unplanned pregnancy triggers some empathetic initial responses. Two of my first thoughts were,“How difficult it must be to choose another family to raise your child so that they can experience a two parent household” and “How draining it must be to finish school while parenting an infant”. Well, I have recently been presented with an aspect to their journeys that had not previously crossed my mind, and it has deeply impacted my heart: “How painful it must be, after making the wisest choice possible for you and for your child, to stand vulnerably in the world and then become the recipient of reproach and rejection.”
Working backwards, Kelsey Fallis (age 23) is a single mother to Lucas (age 6). She is currently student teaching. She is inches away from completing her degree in education and beginning her career as a high school math teacher. She is the first in her family to complete a college degree of any kind, and she is not the oldest child, by the way. Lucas, when asked what he thinks about his mom, immediately says, “I like her.” Bottom line: Kelsey is a success story. She has overcome immense odds, made difficult and beautiful decisions for her and her son, and she is looking into the future with responsibility and newfound wisdom. When she tells her story though, the real obstacle to overcome was not pregnancy or parenting; it was rejection. Doubt. Condemnation. Discouragement. Wrongful judgment. These are the things that stood in her way. These are invisible barriers that reveal themselves in hurtful words and actions shared by relatives, friends, and even strangers. I considered sharing an example of the comments Kelsey has heard but, frankly, they are unworthy of repeating. They can be summarized by the general messages they carry: You are unacceptable. You are unworthy. You are a failure. You are hopeless. Your future is hopeless.
Anyone who has experienced an unplanned pregnancy, whether choosing to parent or make an adoption plan, may entertain the thought that “this now defines me.” So let’s be clear: IT DOES NOT. The girls who have chosen to partner with CPO have responded to their pregnancies with responsibility, thoughtfulness, maturity, and love. They choose to show these unexpected babes a love that surpasses everything else. They are willing to sacrifice their plans, desires, bodies, friendships, romantic relationships, and even family relationships all for one precious soul. These girls, whether they choose adoption or parenting, are heroes. If any decision or action does define them, it is their choice to resist running from their mistakes and to take responsibility for themselves and their children. They are not perfect. They are beautiful, loving, and selfless.
When Kelsey became pregnant at age 15, she knew almost immediately that she would choose to become a parent. She and her mother approached CPO with some curiosity about adoption but soon joined the parenting support group and began individual counseling to prepare to raise Lucas. Although support from Lucas’ father, E, wasn’t consistent, Kelsey did have the tangible support of her family members and E’s family members. She continued to live at home for the next several years to complete high school and an Associate Degree from TCC to prepare the way for her teaching certification. Raising a baby while enrolled in school proved to be one of her most difficult challenges. High school friends couldn’t relate to her new life of responsibility. Teachers failed to empathize with her circumstances and freely expressed their disapproval. Not only did school become an unwelcoming place, the church she was attending also rejected her because of her status as an unwed mother. Romantic relationships were difficult to attempt and sustain. Kelsey didn’t date at all until Lucas was 4 years old. In addition to these difficulties, she also received notable confrontation from strangers many of the times she stepped into public. In Kelsey’s words, “I was a 16 year old pushing a cart with a baby that looked EXACTLY like me. Everyone knew I was his mother or his sister… probably not his sister.” A trip to the grocery store became an opportunity for spectators to throw stones, and they did.
(SIDE NOTE: I’m imagining what someone might say to ME if I went to Target tomorrow wearing a neck sign with a list of mistakes I made 5 years ago. Yikes! Maybe EVERYONE should just start wearing them so that the playing field may finally be leveled. Let’s not forget: We. Have. ALL. Fallen. Short.)
Thankfully, for each of these hardships there were places of relief and encouragement. Crisis Pregnancy Outreach has a long list of resources available to girls like Kelsey. They offer free counseling, parenting classes, housing, mentors, and financial help, to name a few. Kelsey didn’t take advantage of several resources offered to her because many of the girls at CPO do not have any help from family members, and she did. She considered the needs of other girls who were truly “alone” to be in greater need than she was. For her, the greatest gift from CPO was deeply needed moral support and reassurance. Regular counseling and her relationship with the parenting coordinator, Tracie Roesslein, were sources of encouragement and motivation for her to keep moving toward her goals. She mentioned calling Tracie when she would be burdened by a harsh comment in the grocery store or when a relationship had wounded her and created what she now calls a “set back.” April Walters (a longtime CPO volunteer and adoptive mom) has been another support to her, she is currently assisting Kelsey in her search for a teaching position.
Almost 8 years from the beginning of her pregnancy, Kelsey is living with her dad while she fulfills the plan that has been in place for so many years. She will be teaching math this fall, hopefully moving Lucas to a new school and looking to buy her first home. She even has her first family vacation planned for this summer. Their destination is a surprise for Lucas, but it starts with a ‘D’ and ends with ’isney’… SSHHHH! 🙂image3
Parenting is difficult enough without the criticism of those around you, no matter who you are. Kelsey has encountered significant opposition, but God has been gracious to use it for good. (If you are looking for a good read in a similar vein, I recommend Joseph’s story from Genesis 37-50, ending with one of the most beautiful verses in the Old Testament, Gen 50:20.) Kelsey has continued to learn more about the Lord and His plan for her. Messages of rejection and judgment towards her and Lucas have not ceased; it is possible they never will. CPO has been able to offer her a light in the darkness while also encouraging her toward the true light that is Jesus Christ. It is with faith in His forgiveness and redemption that Kelsey can put out the fiery darts of the enemy. She says “When Jesus comes back, He will be the only one who can judge me.”
Kelsey and Lucas are now attending a church that accepts them with the true love and mercy of Jesus Christ. E has begun taking steps to be more involved in Lucas’ life.
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:9-12

Parenting Success Story: Kaci

Many women who come to CPO during their crisis pregnancies choose to parent their child. We are happy to support them in their efforts with counseling, mentors, parenting classes, and more. From time to time we would like to highlight one of our parenting success stories. The article below, written by Ashley Ledbetter, is the first of such highlights. Stay tuned for more!

One area of focus for Crisis Pregnancy Outreach is, naturally, the Realm of Parenting. When girls and women make the decision to partner with CPO their immediate needs may be healthcare and mental/emotional support, but after several months of pregnancy the point is eventually reached at which their cumbersome bellies leave- and their precious baby stays. In many cases Baby is placed with an adoptive family, chosen by the birth mother, to be raised up and trained in the way they should go. Other times, the mother chooses to parent. It is not a simple choice.
In the case of Kaci Caruthers parenting wasn’t the first choice. As she will tell you though, “everything happened the way it was supposed to happen.”k3Kaci became pregnant at age 16. The birth father, Winston, was 18. As a high school sophomore she sought out CPO with the intention of making an adoption plan. She took part in the free counseling that CPO provided her and attended the monthly adoption support groups. She was even able to choose the adoptive family that would care for her son. As with many CPO stories, Kaci’s plan didn’t exactly come to pass as she had anticipated. The delivery day came. Things changed. In short, Winston and his relatives were unwilling to consent to the adoption. In response to the unforeseen conflict, Kaci ultimately decided to become a parent to her newborn son, Bryson.
Since Crisis Pregnancy Outreach is equipped to support girls in adoption AND parenting, Kaci continued to receive its resources. She continued weekly counseling, one of the most treasured resources available to her, and began to attend the parenting support group where she identified with other girls going through similar journeys as herself. Kaci’s mother took on an extremely supportive role, helping and babysitting (to say the least) as well as caring for Bryson at night while Kaci slept so that she could continue her education. In May of 2010 Kaci graduated from high school with honors… and a 1 year old.kaci2kaci1One of the most inspiring and encouraging things about Jesus Christ is His ability to restore. He makes old things new. He lifts the needy from the ashes and seats them among princes… He has them inherit a throne of honor (1 Sam 2:7) It has been 5 years since Kaci brought her son home. She is, undeniably, a story of success and restoration. Her once rocky relationship with Winston has grown away from tension and uncertainty and towards stability and maturity. They have been living on their own for almost 2 years, working steady jobs and allowing Bryson to participate in Asbury’s preschool program. The extended family dynamics that were once conflicting are now at peace. Kaci and Winston consider both sides of their families to be there for them whenever they need help. Kaci’s relationship with Jesus has grown deeper. She is progressively enjoying the experience of placing others above herself, even if it means her grown-up shopping trips bring home bags of Baby Gap instead of new clothes for mommy- something ALL moms can relate to! Her life is not as simple as it might have been if she had not become pregnant at 16 years old, or had her adoption been completed as planned. Fortunately, now she gets to end her days playing “Barbie and Batman” in the bathtub with her son. She has the privilege of learning to care for another human being. No one can be a perfect parent but Kaci and Winston are striving to train Bryson to know and understand right from wrong while teaching him to “trust God and know that He always has a plan.”k2Kaci made a decision early in her pregnancy that she would encourage every girl in her situation to consider: ‘think about the baby.’  Years later she continues to embrace the same decision, “It’s my goal to give him the best life he could ever have!”
She recommends Crisis Pregnancy Outreach to everyone she knows.

Photo credits: First and last taken by Ashley Ledbetter, second taken by Alexis Newton, third taken by Melinda Hunley.

Volunteers Matter: Claire Theriot

Crisis Pregnancy Outreach has been 100% run by volunteers since its inception more than 30 years ago. No one has ever received a salary, which enables CPO to make an even bigger difference in the lives of Tulsa area women. We know that volunteers matter, and to honor them we periodically interview and highlight one of our volunteers.
This week we learn about Claire Theriot, the Director of Volunteers and of course, a volunteer herself!
Q: In what ways do you volunteer at CPO?
A: I am the Director of Volunteers, helping new volunteers get plugged in and find the best place they can utilize their gifts and talents within Crisis Pregnancy Outreach. I also work around 5-7 office shifts a month.
Q: How long have you been volunteering with us?
A: I have been volunteering since August 2014. I started out as an intern while working on my bachelor’s degree in Social Work at NSU. I am still currently “interning”, but am so blessed to have found a position within CPO that gives me an ample amount of hours, but also the opportunity to interact with all of the amazing volunteers!
Q: How did you find out about CPO?
A: I first heard about CPO a couple of years ago, or so. I attend Church on the Move and during a women’s bible study, we all got together for a service project. The service project ended up being to help remodel the transitional home at Crisis Pregnancy Outreach. I remember sitting in COTM’s auditorium on a July Sunday morning, watching the video about CPO and couldn’t hold back the tears or ignore the tugging on my heart. I knew somehow, someway, I was going to be a part of this organization.
Q: Why did you choose to volunteer at CPO versus other organizations? What is it about crisis pregnancies that drew you to us?
A: Ever since that first exposure, CPO had always been on my heart. Being a single mom, in college, and working, I haven’t ever found time for extra activities. Once I started my senior semester, and found out that we were required to do an internship in order to graduate, I immediately called CPO, almost a year after hearing about them! They weren’t on the list of approved agencies, but I chatted with my professor and got the okay to begin my internship at CPO. I was SO THRILLED!
Q: Why is our cause so close to your heart?
A: CPO has such a special place in my heart. Almost five years ago, I found myself in a crisis pregnancy. 19, pregnant, not married… I remember thinking how my life was over. It wasn’t until I found Jesus and learned how God was going to turn all my sin, all my hurt, all my pain into something good and beautiful. I was back in college, landed a dream job, and was doing everything I could to provide the best life for my son, Ryder, and I. I have so much love and so much passion for these girls. I want them all to know that they are loved. They have purpose. They can continue on with life and become the greatest of the great at whatever God has planned for them. They just have to trust him.
CPO does this SO. WELL.
Everyone affiliated with CPO loves these girls and children so much, and want them all to know their worth! The fact that they have a 24/7 hotline? WOW! CPO truly thinks about every detail and makes this agency the best it can be for the clients.
Q: What have you learned about yourself since you began volunteering?
A: Since volunteering at CPO, I have learned a lot about humility and flexibility. Jesus said to love. For me to truly show my love, I needed to jump right in. Get my hands dirty. Use my gifts, rather than just staying in the comfort of my quiet space praying. I serve Him by serving others. I found out just how much I can benefit from a little flexibility. I am a very type A, black and white type of person, and at CPO you never know what might come up. God has shown me that it is okay to be a little unprepared and a little flustered, and even confused, because He has it all taken care of.  CPO has shown me that it’s okay when things don’t go my way… because they are going HIS way.
Q: How have you seen God’s hand at work in the ministry of CPO?
A: I have seen God’s hand in so many areas of this ministry. I am blown away daily with the fact that this entire agency is ran by volunteers. This world has beautiful, beautiful people with the kindest of hearts who keep this remarkable agency running. Hearing testimonies, seeing birth mothers in person whose lives have been completely transformed, seeing adoptive couples hold their new baby for the first time can’t be explained any other way than our almighty God’s hand at work. Even down to the fact of my DoV position. I was very behind in hours, and was wondering if CPO might not have been the best choice for the type of internship I was required to have. I knew how much I loved it, and I knew in my heart this was where I belonged. I prayed about it, and it wasn’t but a week or two later that I was asked if I would be interested in the position. It ended up that I was actually OVER my hours this past semester.
Q: What would you say to anyone who may be considering becoming involved with CPO
A: Contact me! 😉 But really, if you feel God placing this agency on your heart, you will not regret any time spent here. Not every situation is perfect, but at the end of the day, thinking about all the lives that have been transformed within this agency makes everything worth it. Also, it’s good for you!! Volunteering provides physical and mental rewards. It helps to reduce stress: I’ve learned that when you focus on someone other than yourself, it interrupts usual tension-producing patterns. Volunteering also makes you healthier! Moods and emotions, like optimism, joy, and control over one’s fate, strengthen the immune system. Optimism and joy definitely go hand in hand with CPO!


The CPO Gala: A Night of Huge Importance

Written by Angela McLaughlin

When a woman comes to Crisis Pregnancy Outreach, a tremendous weight can be lifted from her shoulders. She will receive love, understanding, compassion and assistance throughout her entire journey. This assistance comes in many forms. It may be something as simple as clothing to wear during her pregnancy, or something as large as a safe environment to live in during and after choosing to make an adoption plan for her child. Some women need help to keep the lights on at their homes; some women simply need the comfort of a shoulder to cry on. Whatever the needs of the women who come through CPO’s doors are, they will be met. I write from experience, as someone who has been truly touched and changed by the help I received from this organization.

Like many non-profits, CPO holds an annual fundraiser, which allows them to continue their amazing ministry. It’s an inspiring evening, filled with stories from birth mothers, adoptive families and their children, volunteers, and women who are parenting their children. It’s a chance for the many lives that have been transformed by CPO to come together and celebrate this amazing, life affirming organization.

Unlike many other organizations, no one at CPO receives a salary. Volunteers who care deeply about the mission and the families they serve are the driving force behind all the amazing things that CPO accomplishes. And the same goes for the Gala. As Stephanie Johnson (a member of the gala planning committee) told me, “The secret to putting the gala together is volunteers! There is a committee each year that works for months on every little detail. Other volunteers help by picking up donations, working at basket wrap day, setting up the day of the event, working the event and even cleaning up afterward. If it weren’t for our CPO volunteers and the team at Hampton Creative, the Gala would not be possible.”

One of my the most extraordinary and inspiring moments of the Gala each year is the video testimonial. Volunteers work to put together a video, capturing the resilience and strength of the women who have been healed, helped, and loved through their crisis pregnancy. The video is always a show stopper, bringing tears and laughter, and reminding everyone in attendance of the tremendous impact of their help, whether the donation comes in the form of time or money. Stephanie describes it as “the moment we at CPO can share what our ministry is all about and why it is so amazing!”

The response is equally amazing. In 2013, CPO raised $80,000, enough to pay off the Transitional Home, ensuring that women who choose to make adoption plans for their children are able to rest and begin the next chapter of their lives in a safe and loving environment, something some of them have never experienced before. In 2014, CPO raised $100,000, enabling the organization to purchase a van, allowing them to provide reliable transportation to counseling, group meetings, and doctors appointments. This allows the mission of CPO to be delivered in an even more efficient manner, ensuring that no woman has to miss an opportunity for help and healing due to transportation issues.

As a birth mom whose life was changed dramatically by making an adoption plan for my beloved Samuel, I hope to lend my voice to this event for years to come. While the most valuable services provided by CPO are indeed free, it’s difficult to focus on healing when you’re unsure of your living situations, burdened by medical issues, or unable to attend much needed counseling because you don’t have transportation. The CPO Gala is a wonderful and beatific event, with a silent auction, delicious food and fabulous decor. But it’s more than that. It’s a request, a request for the ability to continue to provide birth moms, adoptive families and the children they love with the support that they need and deserve. It’s a party, definitely, but it’s also a vital fundraiser for a cause that truly transforms lives. And what could be more important?

Want to get involved? There are still opportunities to help with this year’s gala. We will have a silent auction prep session (wrapping up the baskets and items) on February 19th from 10-2 at the CPO office. Childcare and lunch are provided.
Help is also needed the day of the gala setting up for the night, working the event and cleaning up. If you would like to help please email

Want to attend? All the info you need is included on the invitation below. Here’s the link to purchase tickets:



At CPO, women feel safe.

At CPO, children play freely.

At CPO, volunteers are dedicated.

At CPO, women learn to trust.

At CPO, we are together.

At CPO, we celebrate accomplishments.

At CPO, we mourn losses.

At CPO, we live.

At CPO, we thrive.

At CPO, lives are changed.

CPO Provides Counseling for Life for Our Girls in Need

This article was originally published in July 2013, by Rhonda Fisher.

In the six years since T* first came to CPO, she has made tremendous and dramatic changes in her life. Pregnant, living on the streets of Memphis, and addicted to crack, she came to CPO angry, broken and defeated. She wanted to place her baby for adoption as quickly as possible and get back to living life on the streets. But God had other plans in mind. She is now married, parenting two children, and has been clean and sober for years. She credits much of her transformation to CPO volunteers, the transitional home and house mom, and especially… counseling.

CPO offers counseling from licensed professionals to all girls (parenting or placing) as often as needed, for life. Free.

There are a variety of counselors that work regularly with CPO girls to allow for the best fit, with both personalities and schedules. Janey W. is one of those counselors. She’s been working with CPO girls for 28 years… from almost the very beginning of CPO itself! When I asked her how many girls she has helped over the years, it quickly became clear that the only word to use here is innumerable. Janey was quick to point out that she never sees any of the girls as a number anyway. They are way more than just another client to her. “They are people, with pain. I want to give them hope that there is courage to heal. Some girls really get into the process and really engage in the therapy. They do the assignments and readings that I suggest,” and it is clear over time that it helps.

Of course, there are some girls that she sees many times and isn’t able to get through to them, but they are usually fighting a lot more than pain from their past. Girls who come with mental illnesses like borderline personality disorder and oppositional defiance disorder are a special kind of challenge. She says, “They just fight everything, because they’re just looking for a fight. It’s difficult to engage that category of girls, but humor does it, and building a relationship does it.”

Ultimately, Janey just cares about these girls. She explains, “If I can connect, if I can truly understand where they’ve been, and what has brought them to where they are, then together we can walk to a different place.”

T says that Janey is just the counselor for her. “I knew how to manipulate people like Janey. But she saw me coming! She would just look at me, she didn’t even have to say anything. She’d just give me a sideways look with that straight mouth like, ‘Really, T?’ By the third counseling session I knew this lady really could help me. I trusted her.”

Janey is very grateful to CPO for letting her really work with these girls… without limits. She says that in her private practice, she is bound by the limitations of insurance allowances, etc. But with CPO, she can see girls as needed. Sometimes that’s just once a week for a while. Sometimes it’s a two hour session. Sometimes it’s a midnight phone call. Sometimes it’s twice in one week. Sometimes it’s five years after their last session, but something came up. “I’m so glad to see the girls when they come back, and it is such a huge gift– not only to these girls, but to me as a therapist– to not have to start all over again. We can just pick up right where we left off.”

And it’s not just CPO girls that are helped by our counselors. They also meet with adoptive families, and sometimes even adopted children as needed. Isaac began seeing Janey because he was struggling with the fact that he doesn’t know his birthmother, and he never will. His adoption is closed, and will remain that way. He was surprised by how much his time with Janey helped him. “She helped me more than I could ever imagine. When my mom first signed me up to go with her, I thought it would just be an hour on a couch, listening to a lady talk to me, and I would walk out feeling a little bit better. But, I walked out feeling so much better, every single day. It’s like I had a completely new life.”

Both T and Isaac spoke of how counseling helped them with a lot more than the adoption issues that they thought they were going to address. Isaac adds, “She has helped me be nicer, too. One of the reasons I went to her was for being mean. I went to her for the whole birthmom issue, but we ended up talking about… almost every issue I have. Like, from spiritual stuff to social stuff. She’s really great. She works miracles.”

T explains, “I was okay with the adoption portion. I knew that when I was out there doing drugs, that would never be my baby. The first thing we had to address was my drug addiction. I was a hard, angry, bitter crack addict. Just because the crack wasn’t in me didn’t mean that the addict wasn’t still sitting there. But Janey and CPO turned me into a lady. I had to be taught everything. How to go to a store and pay for things, how to dress. They molded me into a lady.”

Janey knows that all these amazing transformations don’t just happen in her office. Volunteers are a huge part of that. In fact, she dedicated Natasha, one of her many books about crisis pregnancies, to the CPO volunteers. An excerpt from that dedication page reads, “In Titus 2:7, Paul states, ‘In everything set them an example by doing what is good.  In your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.’ Because of your crucial role in these young women’s lives, I dedicate this book to the CPO volunteers and mentors.  You sow seeds whose fruits you will not always be allowed to see this side of Heaven.  So, lead with integrity and honor – for, unbeknownst to you, young eyes are watching.”

*The names of the women CPO helps are always redacted for privacy purposes.