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Personal experience with adoption process grows alumna’s career and family
Katie Zimmerman ’00, B.A. Business Administration
by Mary Denny
Ask Tucson native Katie Zimmerman ’00 about her road to motherhood, and she’ll tell you it was not easy. What an understatement.
After a medical diagnosis and multiple failed fertility treatments left adoption the best hope for Katie and her physician husband, the Zimmerman family turned to adoption. While they had long considered the option, they found the process difficult and filled with pitfalls, including the heartbreak of a disrupted adoption. Finally, they were able to bring home their baby daughter Cora. (And get this: Three days before bringing Cora home, they were surprised and doubly thrilled to find out Katie was pregnant. Daughter Raelyn arrived eight months later.)
Determined to make the adoption process less stressful for future adoptive parents, Katie drew on her legal background—at the time she was General Counsel for AAA Arizona—to found Purl Adoption Advisory in the late summer of 2017. Fortuitously, her employer had decided to merge with an auto club in Northern California and many of the executive team in Arizona were offered severance packages. Katie had already been thinking about leaving to begin her new business, and that offer provided the capital to make it happen. She chose the name Purl after discovering a baby blanket her grandmother had knitted for her using the purl stitch. “I felt like I was helping couples stitch together a family in an alternative way,” she explains.
Katie launched her new business that November to coincide with National Adoption Awareness Month. Getting her first few clients was a major challenge, and in the beginning they were mainly friends of friends to whom she offered her services at a deep discount to help get the business off the ground. “Once I had good reviews and started to help families adopt, the business sort of took off,” she reports proudly.
Two Trinity couples—Jay Conyers ’95 and Jenny Weaver ’95, and Cody ’00 and Jessica ’01 (who have asked us to not use their last name)—are among the 11 families Katie has already helped to adopt 13 children, including two sets of twins. New to the world of adoption and somewhat overwhelmed by the process, Conyers and Weaver were referred to Katie by a mutual friend and “were immediately put at ease,” according to Jay and Jenny. “Katie not only acted as an advisor on the technicalities of the process but also on the emotional aspects of adoption. We especially loved having the Trinity connection and knew we were in great hands.” They are hoping their son will be a future Tiger.
Cody and Jessica, who are also thrilled with the addition of daughter to their family, add, “With Katie we finally found someone who was an advocate for us. We now consider Katie to be a great friend and someone we can always count on to help and counsel us in raising our family. For this we are forever indebted and grateful.”
Katie is quick to emphasize that Purl is not a licensed placement adoption agency; it does not match expectant birth parents with an adoptive one. Instead, Katie provides services that many adoptive parents need but are not offered by adoption professionals: She advises clients throughout the adoption process and refers them to licensed placement attorneys and licensed, ethical agencies with whom she has established relationships throughout the U.S. Her own legal training helps her navigate intrastate adoption laws and advise clients as to the appropriate time to engage reasonable, licensed, experienced legal counsel in an adoption situation.
Currently, Katie has two families matched with expectant mothers, both due in May; six families actively waiting to adopt; and five families in the process of completing their home studies. Her services include helping a family prepare for the home study certification process, designing a family’s adoption profile, and identifying attorneys and agencies that are a good fit, taking into consideration overall budget and adoption preferences. She also helps matched families prepare for the birth of their child, including the tumultuous time between when a child is born and when the expectant family can consent to the adoption, typically not until 48–72 hours after the birth.
A strong advocate for adoption, Katie serves on the board of the Arizona chapter of Gift of Adoption, a nonprofit that gives grants to families adopting vulnerable children. She also loves to run—she was on the Trinity track team—do Pilates, and spend time with her family—dance parties with her girls are one of her favorite things.
As she melds nurturing Purl with being a mom to two toddlers—“also a big job”— Katie notes, “There is still a lot of education needed about adoption advisers like me. Many people do not understand what I do and confuse me with an professional adoption facilitator.” While advising families through the adoption process and cautioning them about potential pitfalls, Katie is convinced it does not have to take years or cost a fortune. “There is a smarter way to adopt.”
You can contact Katie at katie [at] purladoptions.com.