Local child advocates honored

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 388 views 

Steve and Elizabeth Schotta of Rogers have been chosen to receive a special honor by a national group dealing with issues related to adoption and foster care.

In mid-September, the Schottas will journey to Washington, D.C., to be recognized at a gala event among more than 150 of the 2012 Angels in Adoption award winners selected from throughout the nation by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). The award recognizes people who have engaged in outstanding advocacy for adoption and/or foster care.

The Schottas were nominated for the award by U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R-Rogers).

"Steve and Elizabeth Schotta have dedicated much of their lives to helping provide a safe and loving environment for children," Boozeman said in the release. "Their continued support and promotion of adoption is truly inspiring. The Schottas are leading by example through opening their hearts and home to adoption and foster care and through Steve's work at Northwest Arkansas Children's Shelter. I am proud to recognize their efforts, and I am hopeful that their story will motivate the community."

Steve Schotta is the executive director of Northwest Arkansas Children's Shelter. The Schottas are passionate advocates for and active participants in the adoption and foster-care systems. Between them, they have adopted and raised three sons, and they now serve as foster parents.

As a 35-year veteran of the business community, Schotta's professional path includes a rich history of organizational leadership, including 26 years with Kimberly-Clark Corp., where he eventually served in senior management as head of the company's Walmart team.

But in July 2011, his professional course converged with his passion for helping children in need, when (after four years on the Children's Shelter's Board of Directors), he became executive director. Schotta, a native of Milford, Conn., holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Central Connecticut State University at New Britain, Conn.

Elizabeth Schotta, a native of Savannah, Ga., earned a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Georgia and enjoyed a long career in law-enforcement and corrections in the Atlanta area.

In the 1980s, Steve Schotta adopted two boys (ages 8 and 9) from foster care in Ohio and Virginia. And in the late 1990s, he and Elizabeth adopted their son, Stephen, at birth.

He said the sense of purpose that called him to adopt has now spilled over into the work life.

“At the Children's Shelter, we provide emergency residential care for displaced kids, 24 hours a day. We usually are the first stop for children entering the foster-care system, which, in my view, means that we have a huge responsibility to make them feel safe, cared for and wanted from the very beginning of their journey. And, as good parents should, we meet their immediate needs and help them prepare for what comes next. Like parenting, it is challenging but rewarding work," Steve Schotta noted in the release.

Elizabeth Schotta says she considers adoption and foster care a privilege, but also a serious responsibility.

“Too many parents think their kids exist to make them happy. They don't realize that it is their job to provide a stable, nurturing, loving home life that equips their children to lead happy, healthy lives. Unfortunately, I have witnessed the aftermath of irresponsible or absent parents," she said.