Bay Area Adoption Services (BAAS) is a parent-led, non-profit, international adoption agency. Our mission is to find and support loving, able parents for orphaned, abandoned or relinquished children. The child’s welfare is our primary concern.
Andrea Stawitcke, MPA
In 1991 I stepped into the director's role at Bay Area Adoption Services. Little did I know then the incredible journey I was about to begin. I knew of BAAS from a close friend who adopted her children from Guatemala and was then on the BAAS board of directors. With my background, a masters in public administration, having served on non-profit boards, and working in child welfare and advocacy, it seemed a good fit.
In the twenty-five years that I have been at BAAS, I have been privileged to assist over 2,000 families with their adoptions, to travel to all the countries in which we work, and to meet with government officials and wonderful caring people who help find homes for children. I am constantly reminded of how big our job is, and how very much we have to be grateful for. It is a pleasure to work for such a caring organization.
I have served on the Board of Directors of JCICS, have been on the Practice and Advisory Committee for the Evan B. Donaldson Institute, and served for eight years on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee for the City of Sunnyvale.
I have two wonderful daughters, both of whom have worked at BAAS in a number of capacities, over the years, an amazing granddaughter, and a fabulous son-in-law. I also share my home with three beagles and a large, gentle chocolate lab who provide great company and entertainment!
I became involved with Bay Area Adoption Services in December of 1996 when my wife and I attended an initial orientation. We decided to adopt through Bay Area Adoption Services because of the sense of community that Bay Area Adoption Services gave us. Even before we brought our daughter home from Japan in March of 1999, I became a parent volunteer, as an Initial Orientation Presenter and eventually as a Pre-Adopt Class Instructor. Being an adoptive parent, I can appreciate the anxiety and emotions that come with adopting internationally and do my best to encourage the families who are now embarking on their adoption journey. Knowing how much of an impact having my daughter in my life has had on me. It truly is an honor and a privilege to somehow be able to help a child find a loving family that will love and take of him/her for the rest of their lives.
I see my role as Document Specialist at Bay Area Adoption Services as one of support, that brings together my background in Operations, Human Resources, and Information Technology. Bay Area Adoption Services has been able to develop and maintain a team of fantastic and dedicated parent volunteers and staff who all work towards fulfilling its mission statement of finding and supporting loving, able parents for orphaned, abandoned or relinquished children; while keeping the child’s welfare as their primary concern. I look forward to coming to work everyday and I am constantly thinking about how I can somehow be of more assistance to the parent volunteers, the staff and the families we are all trying to help. It is a pleasure to be able to work for such a wonderful organization.
Office Manager & Director of Development
I found BAAS when my husband and I were looking to start our family through adoption. We adopted our beautiful daughter, Gia, through the China special needs program in 2009. I loved everything about BAAS from the moment I walked in the door and was always excited to be a part of the agency and help in any way I could. Once home from China, I volunteered as a pre-adopt class teacher for three years before joining the staff in July of 2013. I have always been interested in the vast landscape of international adoption, and helping others navigate through to find and form families is highly rewarding. In 2014 we adopted another beautiful girl, Tally, through the China special needs program. It is my hope that focusing on development will ensure the future of BAAS, the agency I thank for bringing my beautiful daughters home!
CIS Coordinator & Homestudy Specialist
DalRae joined BAAS in 2015 after working in the tech industry for many years. Finalizing the home studies and keeping up with USCIS and the Hague guidelines has been very interesting and rewarding work. Working with such amazing, dedicated and talented people is inspiring, and being able to work directly with families is so fulfilling. Having been adopted, it is a nice feeling to give back to the community and help build families.
Craig Forte, LCSW
Social Worker Supervisor
Craig is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over twenty-five years of experience. He has worked in mental health, psychiatric and medical settings. Aside from his work with BAAS, he has a private psychotherapy practice in Palo Alto. Craig is also an Adjunct Faculty Member of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford School of Medicine. Craig’s passion is international travel.
Kathleen O'Connell first visited BAAS in 1986 when she and her husband decided to form their family through adoption. She brought home her son and daughter from Honduras in 1988 and then began volunteering for the Initial Orientation. In 1990 she became a staff member, starting as the receptionist and going on to edit the newsletter and coordinate the BAAS picnic, while still assisting with orientations. Kathleen enjoyed answering questions from incoming families, supporting them and helping them understand the process. She had to move out of the area in 2002 but still works for BAAS as Human Resources Administrator, typist and holding orientations in Sacramento. She and her husband are so proud to be BAAS alumni and to be a part of such a warm, caring organization.
Sharmeela Shah, MSW, LCSW
India Program Director
Sharmeela is a highly experienced social worker having worked extensively with families and children in a variety of mental health and community settings over the past twenty years. She has her Masters in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and from Columbia University, New York.
She joined the BAAS social work staff in 2006 and has been developing and coordinating the BAAS India program since June 2007. Having grown up in Mumbai, Sharmeela is fluent in three Indian languages. She communicates and transitions with ease and familiarity between the work culture in India and USA.
Coordinating the India program is an exciting and immensely satisfying opportunity for me. I have a great deal of respect for the families I work with; their patience and determination in overcoming the many challenges in international adoption are truly impressive. Being a part of their journey as they open up their hearts and home to a child in need is a gratifying experience.
Overseas Program Coordinator
Janet Shirley has been working as the Overseas Program Coordinator for BAAS since 1990. She has assisted hundreds of families in choosing the best country program for their adoption and follows the families as they continue on in their adoption process.
Janet has lived and worked extensively in Central America and is currently involved in volunteer work in Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa. In 1988, Janet and her husband adopted their son, Miguel, from Honduras, thanks to BAAS’ help and assistance. Since that time, Janet and family have returned to Honduras so that their son could meet his birth family and become familiar with his birth country. Miguel is now 18 years old and attending junior college in the north bay.
For Ms. Shirley, there is nothing more satisfying than to assist singles and couples in building their families through international adoption. “For me, adoption has been the greatest gift and joy of all. It gives me great satisfaction to help others now in their adoption journey.”
China Program Coordinator
I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to do this work and to have this opportunity to help build families. It is the perfect work for me. I can use my language ability and knowledge of two cultures. I love the children and I love to work with the families. They are wonderful and appreciate what I do.