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CHS President and CEO Nadine Marsh-Carter Reflects On Our Rich 120-year History, and her adoptive family’s journey

As the CHS President, former board member, and adoptive parent, I am humbled and proud to be small part of the agency’s 120+ year legacy of serving Virginia’s children, youth and families. Like CHS’s charter board members who started the agency in 1900, our current board, staff and community supporters are committed to ensuring children are adopted into permanent, loving families. In addition, today we work diligently to ensure that youth who don’t have a permanent family get the supports and skills they need to thrive as adults.

As a member of the CHS staff, I am so proud of the agency’s talented team of social work and administrative professionals who work compassionately to place every child in our care with a family equipped to meet their unique needs.  As a former board member, I am impressed by how strategically and efficiently our agency achieves its mission – being the best stewards possible of the funds donated to support our work.  And as a CHS adoptive parent of two, I am so grateful to be a branch in the CHS “extended family tree” that is comprised of thousands of children and families throughout our Commonwealth!

It’s been more than 20 years, but when I reflect back on the hope and elation I felt both times I waited in the CHS lobby to meet my adopted children for the first time, I still get goose bumps.  My heart was so full that I thought it would burst.  And my mind raced as I wondered –Will I be able to adequately support, guide and encourage the child who was waiting to meet me in the next room?  Yet deep down inside, I knew I had been prepared as possible because of the training and information CHS provided my husband and me during our home study process.  When we met and hugged our children for the first time, I experienced a level of joy that to this day has been unparalleled.  And as an adoptive parent, every soccer game, recital and school play I watched would fill me with happiness and a deep appreciation for the irreplaceable moments that being in a family creates.

Like every family, our journey was not always easy.  The reality is that while families created through adoption share a special bond that is greater than biology or similar backgrounds, it can also create challenges because of the factors that lead to adoption.  In order for children to be adopted, they first experience a loss – the separation from their biological families.  Which is why CHS has a program dedicated to supporting children and families after their adoption takes place.  CHS’s Post Adoption Services are always available to support adopted children and to help equip families to address the uncertainty that their children may feel.  CHS’s trauma-certified Post Adoption team has been a valued resource for our family – and hundreds of others.  Adoption is a lifetime commitment, so CHS offers a lifetime of supports to adoptive families whenever they are needed.

In addition to supporting adoptive families, CHS has expanded its services to support youth who have aged out of the foster care system without a permanent family. CHS’s My Path Forward program provides these vulnerable, yet highly resilient and amazing youth with the housing, employment, education and life skills they need to thrive as adults. True to our agency’s 120 year legacy of service, CHS is ensuring that youth who find themselves without a family are still equipped to reach their full potential – and ultimately to support families of their own.

Just 16 months ago, my first “CHS grandson” arrived. Holding him rekindled the feelings of hope and elation that a new generation of a family can create. Baby Robert is a new branch of CHS’s extended family tree.   Every time he sweetly smiles at me, I am reminded that a loving, permanent family is forever. I feel proud that my family is one of the thousands of children and families who have been served and supported by CHS during its 120 legacy. And I look forward to CHS continuing for another 120 years to transform lives and create brighter futures – one child, youth and family at a time.



Nadine Marsh-Carter
CHS President, CEO and Adoptive Parent