Nicole Skellenger: Knowledgeable and Kind

Kind and knowledgeable are two of the sentiments most used by people describing Nicole Skellenger, JD, the COO at ML Adoptions, Inc. The balance of these two characteristics make her an amazing professional, and it is my pleasure to work beside her and learn from her. I respect and admire her balance or professionalism and compassion.

Nicole truly is our “Hague expert”. She carefully reviews all of the standards and interpretations to ensure MLJ Adoptions is always in compliance. Understanding 35 pages of international law is extremely impressive to me. As an attorney who studied Hague compliance during law school, Nicole’s expertise in the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption may not be surprising. However, Nicole is also responsible for writing all of the policies and procedures at MLJ that keep us in compliance; that is a lot of words and a lot of scenarios to consider. I am thankful that she takes care of this essential part of the business. Adoption is very complicated business due to the many different types of law that is involved, including that of the various countries in which we have international adoption programs, and Nicole is familiar with all of them. Not every adoption agency has an attorney on staff; I am so glad that we have Nicole protecting us from liability and guiding us in best practices.

Nicole’s caring for the clients, and most importantly the children who need families, is always evident even as she reviews laws and best practices and implements policies and procedures. This is not any easy balance to maintain, yet I believe, after working with Nicole for several years, that it comes naturally to her. Nicole does not allow her never-ending task list to interfere with taking her time to speak to clients and empathizing with any concerns that they may have. She is able to explain the laws that impact each adoption process and MLJ policies. When clients or prospective clients have the opportunity to speak to Nicole, the feedback I often hear is that they are left feeling reassured and understanding the complicated adoption process more.

This Spring, Nicole will speak at the Joint Council on International Children’s Services’ (JCICS) 37th annual child welfare symposium, giving those outside of MLJ Adoptions the opportunity to learn from her. She and Michele Jackson, JD, are both presenting Lightening Talks – timed power point presentations; it is another way that Nicole impresses me because that is not a challenge I would want to undertake. I am looking forward to hearing both presentations the day before I lead a workshop. If you have not had the pleasure of meeting Nicole and learning from her expertise, you may want to check out the JCICS symposium in New York City May 20-22, 2013.

To learn more about the MLJ Adoptions team, please click here.