Meet the Staff

  • Sue Chaffee
    Sue Chaffee
    Executive Director

    Sue has been with LifeLong Adoptions since the very beginning, and she brought with her many years of experience in customer service. Her extraordinary people skills are a tremendous benefit when working with both adoptive families and birthmothers. As the mother of three children, Sue understands the desire adoptive families have to be parents, and she is always thrilled when her adoptive families are blessed with a new baby. Furthermore, Sue understands the level of support and guidance birthmothers need and feels fortunate to have the opportunity to let them know how much LifeLong cares for them.

  • Mark Doyle
    Mark Doyle
    Director

    Mark is our Adoptive Parent Specialist for the LGBT community. Mark provides education, guidance and support about the adoption process through informational meetings with our prospective adoptive parents. Mark came to work for LifeLong after 10 years of working for a major corporate retailer in the Human Resources department. His passion for adoption grew from his own experience with LifeLong. After his own adoption, Mark’s desire to continue to help other LGBT families achieve their dream of a family grew stronger and he joined the LifeLong team. He continues to advocate for LGBT adoptions. He enjoys helping others and believes you should never give up on the dream of family.

  • Dina
    Liz Hitt
    Assistant Director

    Liz brings to LifeLong Adoptions a background in technical project management. Liz had always dreamed of being part of an organization that assisted families, so after moving from Texas to Illinois, she began pursuing a job that was more meaningful for her. By combining her excellent communication skills with her love for children and families, she’s the perfect fit for the assistant director role. Having grown up in a small, close-knit family, she understands the desire for parents to have children and for children to have siblings. Liz is a vital part of continuously improving the adoption journey for adoptive families at LifeLong Adoptions.

  • Dina
    Dina Blackmore
    Adoption Admissions Coordinator

    Dina serves as our Adoption Admissions Coordinator. She is the mother of 4 children and has helped raise over 20 other children while running an in-home daycare. She understands the desire to become a parent and she will strive to make that dream come true for others. She utilizes her Bachelor of Science Degree in Family Social Services along with her Master of Science Degree in Community Health to better understand and support our adoptive families.

  • Kieta Wheeler
    Kieta Wheeler
    Director of Adoptive Parent Services

    Kieta joined the LifeLong Adoptions team after several years in nonprofit management and maintaining a life coaching practice for over five years. Her compassion, humor, and ability to empower people to reach their goals make her an excellent fit in her role as the Director of Adoptive Parent Services. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s degree in Management, and she enjoys trying alternative healing practices to promote balance and stress relief. If you stop by her desk, you’ll see paintings listing the 4 Agreements, which changed her life. Kieta is extremely passionate about supporting and guiding families through their adoption journeys. She and her wife look forward to being adoptive parents themselves someday.

  • Jenee
    Jenee Springinsguth
    Adoptive Parent Coordinator

    Jenee’s desire for advocacy was developed throughout the course of her own personal journey that has equipped her to provide excellent care and attention to our adoptive parents. As a mother of three who experienced the struggle of infertility, she has a passion for building families through alternative means because she believes creating a loving family and providing a sense of belonging and unity is a choice. Jenee enjoys connecting with people and has a desire to bring inspiration to others by helping them see the beauty of the journey and encourages them to maintain hope through all the obstacles. With a compassionate heart, she is thankful for the opportunity to walk hand-in-hand with prospective adoptive parents as they await the love and fulfillment of the dream their hearts so desire!

  • Emily
    Melinda Rappe
    Adoptive Parent Coordinator

    Melinda joined the Lifelong Adoptions team after having worked in education, administrative support, and journalism for 16 years. She does her best to impart both kindness and love as a way to treat everyone. Her compassion and fastidiousness make her an excellent fit for her role here at LifeLong. She has a Bachelor's Degree in English and enjoys both writing and reading novels. She also has a five-year-old son and spends plenty of time exploring the world through his eyes. She loves helping hopeful parents grow their families. Her brother is a member of the LGBT community and she looks forward to helping him grow his family one day as well.

  • Deena Duda
    Deena Duda
    Birthmother Coordinator

    Deena joins LifeLong as a birthmother coordinator. She brings with her a background in advocacy and crisis intervention. She has an undergraduate degree in Human Services and is currently earning her graduate degree in Human Services Administration. Deena is married with two wonderful children, and she enjoys reading books and watching hockey in her free time. After witnessing someone close to her place her baby with a loving family, she understands firsthand the bravery, strength, and love of a birthmother. Deena is excited to bring her experience, education, and passion to her position as a birthmother coordinator.

  • Dawn
    Dawn Graaf
    Profile Coordinator

    Serving as our Profile Coordinator, Dawn manages the family profile development process from start to finish. With years of client services and project management experience, Dawn specializes in helping her clients put their best foot forward. With several friends and family who were adopted, adoption has a special place in her heart. Outside of the office, Dawn can usually be found behind her camera lens capturing the smiles of her husband and two teenagers while fishing, hiking, or exploring. She loves working closely with our adoptive families to ensure their profile is the best reflection of them.

  • Jen
    Jennifer Marie
    Profile Creator

    Working for LifeLong is close to her heart, as she too was adopted. Jennifer know's how much love, strength and courage a birthmother and birthfather have in order to make this unselfish and life-altering decision. Growing up in a gracious and loving family with two adopted siblings she brings compassion and experience to her job in creating profiles for our families. Jennifer has had the experience of meeting her biological mother and father and truly respects the decisions they had to make. Jennifer’s adoptive mother always told her, "you weren’t born under my heart, but you were born in it." Jennifer has felt these words every day of her life. Creating profiles and working with LifeLong brings her great satisfaction in helping other families along this journey. Jennifer wishes you the best throughout your adoption.

  • Mark Doyle
    Nathan Etter
    Outreach & Education

    After an eight-year career in elementary education, Nathan was thrilled to join the Lifelong Adoptions family! With his extensive communication skills and contagious personality, Nathan works to build relationships and cultivate partnerships with community organizations who serve expectant mothers. His goal is to empower these organizations with tools and resources to allow them to educate and support expectant mothers who are considering adoption. As a member of and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, Nathan is proud to be a part of an inclusive enterprise whose mission is helping others achieve their dreams of becoming parents.

  • Xayden Zebbera
    Xayden Zebbera
    Adoption Administrator

    Xayden is honored to be part of the LifeLong Adoptions team and truly enjoys supporting families in dotting all the 'I's and crossing all the 'T's as they pursue their goal of adopting another beautiful human into their lives. He is a passionate advocate for the LGBT community and his presence in the office keeps everyone smiling as we all go about the business of creating miracles. He is newly married, a new homeowner and he and his wife have two fur babies; Sketch Ink and Kona Bean. He enjoys country music and played soccer for over 15 years. He and his wife, Gianna, look forward to being adoptive parents in the near future.

  • Edie Kanthack
    Edie Kanthack
    Administrative Assistant

    Edie serves all departments at LifeLong Adoptions as our administrative assistant. Her hard work and dedication keep our office running smoothly and efficiently. Edie is the proud mother of two beautiful girls who made her life complete. After three failed in-vitro attempts, she traveled to China to adopt her daughter Audrey. After returning from China she was blessed one more time when she realized she was pregnant. Nine months later, she gave birth to her second daughter Ava. Edie understands the ups and downs that life can bring, and her genuine, caring nature makes her a wonderful part of our team.

  • Emily
    Emily Downey
    Office Assistant

    Emily is our Office Assistant. She brings a positive and friendly attitude to every task. Her day to day responsibilities include printing adoption materials, preparing informational packets and assisting our adoptive and birthmother coordinators. Emily brings a strong work ethic and a genuine love of helping others.

  • Carolyn Walker and Sharon Ahmann
    Carolyn Walker & Sharon Ahmann
    Co-founders

    As adoptive mothers, Carolyn and Sharon have each experienced the joy of adoption three times over. Through their experiences, they became full-time adoption advocates, and have been committed to supporting adoptive parents and birth parents throughout the adoption process for more than 20 years. In the course of their work, Carolyn & Sharon recognized a need for personalized adoption services specifically for the LGBT community. In 2011, they founded LifeLong Adoptions based on the belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve their dream of a family through the miracle of adoption.