Maria Teresa Bates received a J.D. degree from Stetson University College of Law in 2007 and a B.A. degree from Eckerd College in 1997 in Human Development. Maria became interested in adoption issues after having volunteered at an orphanage for teenage girls in Bolivia in 1995. She started her professional career as a counselor at a juvenile justice addiction program and at a group home for teenage girls in Pinellas County. Maria went on to work in both the private and public sectors as a consultant in Florida, Arizona and California. Her work included strategic planning, nonprofit governance, fundraising, organizational development and process improvement. During this time Maria also spent much time traveling throughout the United States and Latin America and volunteering in the arts.
Determined to take her passion for kids to the next level, Maria earned her law degree and began working in child welfare, adoption, assisted reproductive technology, and family planning. After completing her degree, she founded the Law Offices of Maria T. Bates, P.A. in 2008. Maria also founded a nonprofit adoption agency, Project Patchwork, Inc. in 2007 until it closed in 2017. Maria has been through the ups and downs with her clients and through her own journey to parenthood. Through her experiences, her passion and love for helping people navigate these complex journeys continues to win out and she is steadfast in her commitment to quality and ethical practices.
Ms. Connie Going, National Adoption Advocate , Founder of The Adoption Advocacy Center and Adoptive Mom is dedicated to making a difference in the world. With over 25 years in Child Welfare and Adoption, Ms. Going has completed over 1000 adoptions. In 2012 Ms. Going was awarded the prestigious National Angels in Adoption™ Congressional Designation, for her outstanding advocacy efforts.In 2014 she received the Irene Sullivan Adoption Award and in 2015 she was given the very first “ Let it Be Us! “ Adoption Adoption Advocate of the Year Award. and in 2016 received the TampaBay Lightning Hero Award.
Ms. Going is a certified National Adoption Expert and is sought after as Inspirational Keynote Speaker, Child Welfare Trainer and Educator. Ms. Going created a weekly TV series called "Wednesday’s Child" allowing over 250 children to receive high level recruitment efforts. She is a co- founder of the Pinellas and Pasco Heart Gallery which was started in 2004 and continues to thrive as a catalyst profiling children waiting to be adopted. In 2013 a recruitment experience created "the Davion Effect" in which a young man who Ms. Going took to church to speak about his desire for a forever family, became an international news story, allowing mass media coverage worldwide.That experience resulted in the partnership and co-creation of an acclaimed Inquiry/Match system that ensures every inquiry for a child has an immediate response and process to be matched concurrently holding systems of care accountable for every child available for adoption.Ms. Going has created marketing and social media support for Adoption Agencies across the US , a weekly podcast highlighting Domestic and International adoption ,as well as multiple ongoing social media support groups for all members of the Adoptive Triad.
Ms. Going has appeared on many National and Local News outlets, "Daytime", "The View", "ABC Evening News with Dianne Sawyer" and " CBS Evening News, On the Road with Steve Hartman", " Fox & Friends" as well as "Woman's World", "People Magazine", "Huffington Post" , " Newsweek" and "O" Oprah's Magazine. Her dream is to one day appear on Soul Sunday with Oprah herself.
Ms. Going is the proud mother to 4 amazing children. Her life’s passion, Adoption became even more personal in 2012 when Ms. Going adopted her son Taylor who was then 12 and in 2015 when she adopted her son Davion who was 17. It is with love and determination that she strives to be the parent they need and deserve believing we are all " Good Enough" to make a difference in the life of a child.
Sara DeRoo LCSW/LMSW is a clinical therapist with extensive experience in dealing with issues of adjustment, grief, depression, anxiety, trauma, adoption and parenting. She has worked in program management in adoption as well as with intensive advocacy efforts for adoption and foster care on the local, state and federal levels. She has worked as a clinician in private practice with adults, teens and children, in child welfare, and juvenile justice as well as in geriatric practice, and medical social work/. Sara also specializes in working with diverse populations and is an avid supporter of social justice issues. She has been a diversity trainer for adoptive professionals and parents.
Sara originally hails from Michigan and comes to social work as a second career, originally running a music studio and working as a pianist. She and her husband were honored as “Angels in Adoption” by Senator Gary Peters on Capital Hill in 2016. She now finds herself and her big bodacious adoptive family in Florida these days, where she enjoys all of the amazing coastal nature, sunny weather and the thriving arts communit
Natasha is a 2 time gestational Surrogate who’s knowledge and passion for surrogacy makes carriers and intended parents feel right at ease in their journey. Natasha‘s love for children and assisting others with building their families, through all routes, combined with the knowledge she gained during her own journeys help her to provide an informative, compassionate and empathetic experience for all involved. Her background in clerical and administrative work has given her an eye for the small details. While her love and empathy for people from all walks of life has provided her an open mind and an open heart to appreciate everyone’s story. It's those things that allow her to contribute an exceeding level of support.
Natasha has been married to her husband for 11yrs and together they have two amazing sons. They are the motivation and inspiration for everything she does. She hopes to use that inspiration to help others navigate through their story with kindness and encouragement.