Organizations Making a Difference

Donaldson Adoption Institute

This well-respected organization is part think tank, part adoption advocacy organization, on a mission to improve adoption laws, policies, and practices through research and education—and thereby improve the lives of everyone touched by adoption. Their monthly E-Newsletter is packed with interesting information and the latest policy and research news. If you have an opportunity to see the Institute’s Executive Director, Adam Pertman, speak at an event, you’ll quickly understand why Working Mother magazine named him one of 2013’s “25 Dads who Rock.” Mr. Pertman is an adoptive father who eloquently advocates for adoptee needs and birth parent concerns as well.

American Adoption Congress

AAC was created in 1978 as a national umbrella organization for regional search, support, and adoption reform groups. Today’s members include adopted persons, first/birth families, adoptive parents, therapists, and other professionals in the field. AAC’s excellent annual conference (March 2015 in Boston) offers member education and support as well as continuing education training for adoption professionals. AAC’s regional sub-groups are also a great resource for support. In addition, AAC is one of the leading organizations advocating open access legislation (detailed on our Discover Your Rights page).

Concerned United Birthparents (CUB)

CUB was founded in Massachusetts in 1975 by, and for, birth parents who had surrendered children for adoption. The group has since grown, both geographically, and to serve all those touched by adoption. CUB is not a search organization, however, they can refer members to search resources. CUB’s focus is providing emotional support for all aspects of the adoption experience (as detailed in this story on CUB). Support groups are open to birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive parents, and can be found in Boston, Washington D.C., San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland, Minneapolis–Saint Paul, and Lakeland, Florida, as well as online. CUB’s annual conference (October 2014 in Safety Harbor, FL) offers member education and support. This Q&A with CUB President, Patty Collings, has more information, plus insights on how the word “birthparent” came to be.

Child Welfare Information Gateway

This national organization, a service of the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau, offers comprehensive and up to date adoption reports on a variety of topics, each concluding with a valuable reference and resource section. Curious about the latest research on the impact of adoption on adopted persons? The August 2013 Fact-sheet for Families discusses post adoption issues, openness, and the reasons people search for biological relatives. We’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

In addition, while geared more toward parents of adopted children, the “How To Find an Adoption Competent Therapist” report has a section that explains the theory behind different types of therapies, and a good checklist of things to look for in a counselor.

Search Angel, Judy Sheinbein and her son, Aaron Sheinbein, developed the Find My Family Adoption Registry in 2009. The registry is now open to all US adoptees and birth family members who may be searching for one another. The registry has nearly 45,000 participants to date. If a potential match is made, an email is sent to a search angel who researches and confirms the match free of charge.

Leading Regional Organizations:

Adoption Network Cleveland

Since 1988, this Ohio-based nonprofit organization has sought to support all those touched by adoption and foster care within their community and beyond. With a core belief that adoption is a lifelong journey, they support youth waiting for adoptive families, aide prospective adoptive families, and assist adult adoptees through seminars and support groups. Adoption Network Cleveland is widely recognized as an innovative and leading voice in the adoption world.

Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.), serving Maryland, Washington D.C., and Northern Virginia

While C.A.S.E. provides counseling services to their local foster care and adoption communities, they are much more than a regional organization. Thanks to their online webinars, books, and publications, people in the U.S. and abroad benefit from the resources they offer, which is right in line with their vision statement: “that everyone touched by foster care and adoption has access to the adoption-competent support necessary to navigate their lifelong journey.” C.A.S.E. staff have traveled as far as England, Scotland, and Australia to teach W.I.S.E. UP!—a seminar that empowers foster and adopted children (and the parents who love them) to handle comments and questions about adoption. There are many things an adult adoptee can benefit from on their site as well, including their fact sheet titled “Evolving Relationships – Adoption Circle,” and a fantastic webinar on adoptee grief and loss.

Modern Family Center @ Spence-Chapin

New York’s Spence-Chapin has been providing services to families for over 100 years. Their recently opened Modern Family Center @ Spence-Chapin provides many services tailored to meet the needs of adoptees, including providing personal adoption histories, search and reunion guidance and counseling, mentorship programs for tween and teen adoptees, discussion panels and groups, and more. They offer services (in-person and via Skype) to individuals and families living in the five boroughs of New York City, Long Island, Westchester County, southern Connecticut, northern New Jersey, and are currently in the process of expanding to be able to help those living in southern New Jersey too. This Q&A with the folks at Spence-Chapin for more information on how the center came to be and the services they provide.

The Post Adoption Center for Education and Research (PACER)

Founded in 1978, PACER is a volunteer-led northern-California based organization dedicated to serving the adoption community and fostering truth and openness. While located in northern California, PACER’s website offers numerous resources for people who live anywhere, from an excellent list of search and reunion resources (with links) to a periodic newsletter. Support groups for triad members, or single-focused support groups are available for those in northern California. This Q&A with current PACER President, Dr. April Topfer, has more information plus insights on what makes an adoption-savvy professional.

If your area has a great adoption support organization like those listed above, please let us know and we’ll help spread the word.

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