Cindy Lanphier is a Senior Adoption Consultant with A Step Ahead Adoption Consultants. Cindy immersed herself in to the world of adoption when she started researching the process of adoption. She quickly became an advocate for adoption education and networking during her experience. She served on the Board of SPAFA, a local adoption support group, for several years and believes everyone needs to arm themselves with education when adopting a child. Cindy holds a B.S. degree in Health Education; Corporate Wellness from Penn State University. Cindy and Mike have been married for 17 years and have a 10 year old adopted daughter; they live in Waxhaw, NC.

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Teri Heideman is a Senior Domestic Adoption Consultant and has worked with A Step Ahead for over 10 years.  She has a B.S. degree in business and has been married to her husband, Mark, for 22 years. They live in Concord, NC with their two wonderful children.  Their biological daughter is 20 years old and their 11 year old son was adopted as a newborn.  After taking placement of their son she decided that helping other adoptive families through their adoption journey is what she was meant to do and has a true passion for it.  Recently Teri found out that she too was also adopted as a newborn with a closed adoption.  Having a more open adoption with their son’s birth mom she understands the dynamics of different types of adoptions.  Through her own personal adoption experiences Teri covers 2 points of our triad.

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Shannon Murphy-Johnson comes to us after working in the world of professional Figure Skating as a young figure skater and an elite coach. Among Shannon’s many strengths is the passion she brings to her work, coupled with her knowledge of adoption, first and foremost as an adoptee and then as an adoptive parent. Shannon and her husband, Kenneth, have been married 25 years and live in Kansas along with their four beautiful children, two of which were brought home through the amazing experience of adoption.

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Amanda Dureas is from Denver, Colorado. Amanda and Dave have been married for 10 years and used ASA’s services for the adoption of their son, Luke. Through her experience with adoption Amanda developed a great passion and enjoys advocating for everyone in the adoption triad.

Amanda holds a B.S. Degree in Business Information Systems and has experience in employee benefits and in real estate. Amanda is located in the Mountain Time Zone and is our education consultant providing training and in-person workshops for CO client families.

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Jill Aller is an adoptive mom who has a Master’s degree in teaching and is about to complete another Master’s degree in counseling. She adopted her two children through the help of ASA’s consultants and had such a great experience (twice!) that she came to work with us. Both children have very open adoptions, where they are still in touch with their biological families. She has lived all over the U.S. but is now happily settled in Florida with her extended family. Jill is passionate about helping others navigate their adoption journeys in a mindful, balanced way.

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Leslie Shands has a BS in Communications from Trevecca Nazarene University. She has spent many years working with children in multiple capacities. After partnering with ASA and experiencing the difference it made in their adoption process, Leslie knew she wanted to help others experience the same.The Shands adopted twin, preemie girls. Leslie and her husband Bobby reside in Madison,TN and are proud parents of twin girls, Lillie Kate and Taylee. Leslie serves our clients in the Central Time zone.

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Julie Johnson holds a graduate degree in counseling and was fortunate enough early in her career to discover her passion for adoption. Beginning in the public sector, she worked with foster children needing a permanent family through adoption. This led to over 25 years working for a private, nonprofit adoption agency in Charlotte, NC where she was a birth parent social worker and later, a home study caseworker. As a caseworker she provided home study and post placement services to many families working with ASA and was consistently impressed with the preparation, guidance and expertise they received from ASA as their dream of parenthood come to fruition. Now living in the NC mountains she is thrilled to be a consultant for ASA. Julie is married and the mother of two grown daughters.


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Merry Burns is originally from San Diego and now resides in Omaha, Nebraska. Merry and Michael have been married for 11 years and used ASA’s services during the adoption of their son, Nolan. Through her professional experience as a Recruiter and her passion for adoption Merry is excited to bring families together. Merry received a B.S. Degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Special Education. Merry is located in the Central Time Zone and eager to work with client families all over the US.

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Helen Fleming has a BS in Elementary Education and minor in Psychology from Presbyterian College in South Carolina. She currently lives with her husband MIke and son Sean in Belmont, NC. Helen quickly found her passion of working with clients during the time she spent at Bank of America as a Client Relationship Manager in both the banking centers as well as their Global Wealth Investment Management Department over the course of 10 years.

After bringing home their son through the help of an ASA consultant, Helen realized her love and passion for the adoption world and for those who helped them through this incredible journey.

This led Helen back to ASA to match her relationship management skills with her enthusiasm for helping other families through their own adoption journey to help create their own forever families.


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Heather Coddington has a BS in elementary education and French from Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. For several years she worked as an elementary media specialist, followed by 8 years as a public children’s librarian and director of a small public library. Heather’s life long love of working with children naturally translated into a desire to help create families through the miracle of adoption. During their own adoption journey, Heather discovered a local adoption support group, and her passion for adoption was born. After bringing home their daughter through the help of an ASA consultant, Heather became very active with the adoption support group, encouraging others in their adoption journeys. This eventually brought Heather back to ASA to join her love of working with children with her love of adoption. Heather currently lives with her husband and two children in Orlando, Florida.

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Caroline Ives has a BS in Elementary and Secondary Education from Taylor University in Indiana. Although born in Texas, she currently lives in Michigan with her high school sweetheart, Keith, and their daughter Jane.

From the moment Caroline and her husband began the adoption process, something inside her compelled her to explore a career in the world of adoption. She is thrilled for the opportunity to walk alongside families. Caroline values the education that A Step Ahead provides, as well as the relationships that consultants are able to develop with their families as they guide and support them on their journey.

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