Mary Hanlon, birth parent support services and standing, Ellen Sorensen outreach coordinator for Premier Adoption Agency. Photo by Burton Weast.

Mary Hanlon, birth parent support services and standing, Ellen Sorensen outreach coordinator for Premier Adoption Agency. Photo by Burton Weast.

Mesquite is widely known for its golf and retirement communities but hardly anyone would think of the city as the home of one of the largest adoption agencies in Nevada. Premier Adoption Agency, which has offices Las Vegas, Reno, Elko and four locations in Arizona and Utah, is headquartered in Mesquite and was founded by resident Catherine Murray in 1999.

The agency is a non-profit and is funded through donations and fees, and receives no funding from state or federal agencies. “Our mission is to help women in crisis,” says agency outreach coordinator Ellen Sorensen. But Premier Adoption provides much more than just placement of children and babies for adoption. “We have professional social workers who work with the birth mother and the families to insure our children go to excellent homes,” says Sorensen.

Premier Adoption is also a designated “safe haven” for babies who are left at fire stations or in hospitals. The agency actually takes legal custody of the child and then works to place them with a family. Recently the agency placed a safe haven baby from Tucson with a family in Utah.

There is also a program to work with homeless mothers where transportation is provided to doctor appointments.

Last year the agency placed 40 babies and has 23 babies in new homes so far this year. Currently there are 61 families registered and awaiting a child. In some cases, families have adopted more than one child through Premier Adoption.

One thing Sorensen emphasizes is that “The mother makes the choice where the child is placed.” In the office are photo books of families who want to adopt. The pictures and text in the books are of family life, showing friends and relatives who will be part of the child’s family upon adoption. Birth mothers can look through the books and decide which family they would like to meet. The notes made by the prospective family are sometimes heartbreaking but always hopeful. Also, birth mothers have a choice for an “open” adoption where she can follow the baby’s life with the new family or a “closed” adoption where there is no future contact.

Upon meeting the staff, it is immediately clear that providing adoptions is a calling and not just a job. Sorensen told of a child who was born on June 6, “The birth mother was in excellent health but the child was born with mental health issues, so we took legal guardianship of the child and are now trying to find a family.” The agency also places children with Downs Syndrome and other difficulties. “We have social workers that help families adjust to children with special needs,” says Sorensen.

The Inter-Country Adoption Act of 2000, also known as the Hague Accreditation, also certifies Premier Adoption. The act is an international treaty designed to protect children, birth families and adoptive families by prohibiting child trafficking and setting standards for adoptions. The U.S. adopted the treaty in 2008, and Premier is fully accredited.

The agency also works closely with state agencies and hospitals. In Nevada, a child born with illegal drugs in their system is immediately taken into state custody and placed into foster care or with an accredited adoption agency such as Premier Adoption. “We would much rather have the child placed in a home than into foster care,” says Sorensen.

Mesquite can be proud to have Premier Adoption call us home. For further information, call 702-475-4910 or go to