Tim Marchell says thanks to Cornell for helping in adoption

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"We are blessed," says Tim Marchell, showing off photos of his family: 5-year-old Owen, 19-month-old Gracie Trinh and 9-month-old Anderson.

Marchell is director of mental health initiatives at Cornell's Gannet Health Services; his wife, Sarah George, a former associate pastor of the First Congregational Church in Ithaca, is now a full-time mom. Last fall, Owen found himself not only big brother to newborn Anderson, but also to adopted sister Gracie Trinh, born in Vietnam.

Two months after getting word that Gracie could be theirs, George learned she was pregnant. She, therefore, did not accompany her husband to Vietnam to bring Gracie home. Weeks after the infant girl arrived in Ithaca, Anderson was born.

"We are big ambassadors for Cornell's Adoption Assistance Program," says Marchell proudly. Cornell provided many forms of help to the family throughout the adoption process, from help considering the big step to the day Gracie arrived and after.

More help with adoptions

Since Cornell's Adoption Assistance Program was launched in 2005, it has provided up to $5,000 per adoption to benefits-eligible employees, for up to three adoptions per family. Starting July 1, Cornell began providing $6,000 worth of assistance for the adoption of a child with special needs, a $1,000 increase.

On Nov. 11, a half-day workshop on adoption-related concerns will be held at Robert Purcell Community Center. Speakers will discuss issues related to domestic and international adoption, legal concerns and more. Contact Michelle Artibee at mla64@cornell.edu or 607-255-5298 for more information.

At the beginning, the couple attended Cornell-sponsored lunchtime sessions to hear the real-life experiences of adoptive families. "We got to talk with parents at various stages of adoption, as well as meet the professionals," says Marchell. These exchanges helped the couple make the decision to adopt. Later, Cornell helped financially with agency, medical and immigration fees, through reimbursements.

Cornell's Adoption Assistance Program provides up to $5,000 per adoption to benefits-eligible employees, for up to three adoptions per family. Since 2005, more than 30 families have been aided by this assistance.

The Cornell community continues to sustain the Marchell family. They have connected with Vietnamese students at Cornell who help them learn more about Gracie's homeland, ensuring her future comfort with her cultural background and enhancing the lives of her entire family.

"We are thrilled," says Marchell. "Some people say, 'Isn't Gracie lucky.' We say Sarah and I are the lucky ones. We come from mixed cultural backgrounds ourselves, and Gracie has brought even more richness to our family. For this we are very grateful to Cornell."

In 2007 and 2008, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption named Cornell one of the "100 Best Adoption Friendly Workplaces."

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Nancy Doolittle