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From the desk of
April Dinwoodie

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the latest edition of our quarterly newsletter. It has been a dynamic few months! Recently, we announced our four pillars that will serve as the bedrock as we continue to uncover and amplify opportunities to encourage adoption reform and practically meet the needs of our ever-evolving community and the professionals that serve the community.

Having just come back from another amazing NACAC conference where there was so much rich dialogue about permanency it seems fitting that this edition is focused on Adoption Support Services; an area that is crucial to ensuring permanency and sustaining families.

DAI’s most recent reports coupled with the painful and often frustrating realities of struggling children and families make it abundantly clear that access to quality pre- and post-adoption support services is critical to ensuring everyone’s wellbeing. “Re-homing” is just one disturbing example of what can happen when children and families are not properly prepared and supported before, during and for many years following an adoption. There is no doubt that foster and adoptive families deserve and greatly benefit from quality support services but ultimately, ALL families are better when there is an authentic constellation of quality support surrounding them.

As always, in this addition you will find updates on research, policy, advocacy and education from DAI as well as news from the community and our partners. We are especially thrilled to profile an amazing individual who has worked tirelessly on behalf of children and families: Renette Oklewicz the former Director, Foundation Programs at the Freddie Mac Foundation.

Enjoy & Happy Summer!


While there are exciting and important developments to highlight, we know there is still so much work yet to do in an effort to ensure the well-being of families via access to quality pre- and post-adoption services. DAI is honored to be part of the needed changes taking place and we are committed to providing important information, engaging in authentic partnerships and highlighting the voices of those who are impacted the most in order to drive reform.

Nathan Ross (left), head of NACAC’s Community Champions Network that seeks to expand post-adoption services, spoke eloquently at DAI and partners’ May 8 Congressional Briefing about his adoption from care as a teen and the importance of supportive services for family stability. The need and benefit of adoption support and preservation (ASAP) services was reinforced with House reauthorization of Adoption Incentives to encourage states to place children who cannot return to their biological families for adoption and guardianship, as well as require states to fund ASAP with savings from the subsidy/AFDC de-link and track instability. Supporting Voice for Adoption’s leadership in this effort, DAI has submitted comments and letters to Congress to advance these improvements.

Similarly, DAI has urged Members of Congress to strengthen standards for intercountry pre- and post-adoption services in the Children in Families First Act (CHIFF). Additionally, DAI provided comments to the congressional subcommittee addressing “re-homing,” or private custody transfers of adopted children.

We’ll continue to advocate for critical reforms in these areas when Congress reconvenes in September and through an upcoming Freddie Mac Foundation-funded project to enhance state ASAP policy.

The landscape of American family life is rapidly changing. Nowhere are these changes being felt more strongly and directly than in the areas of adoption, foster care and assisted reproductive technology. DAI encourages the acceptance of diverse families and believes that all families can benefit from quality support. Studying the modern family and providing practical resources for individuals, families, professionals and policymakers will be an area of growth and expansion for DAI.

Focusing on the entire adoption community (first/birth parents, adopted people, adoptive parents and extended families of all), DAI works to improve the adoption experience and strengthen families by promoting healthy identity in adopted people, safeguarding the rights of parents (expectant, first/birth and adoptive) and educating practitioners, professionals and policymakers.

DAI is committed to and recognizes the commitment of others to uncover opportunities to ensure the most vulnerable children and families receive the timely attention and quality support they deserve as they navigate the child welfare system.

RENETTE OKLEWICZ

Director, Foundation Programs at the Freddie Mac Foundation

We are honored to profile Renette Oklewicz, long-time Director of Programs at the Freddie Mac Foundation, for her significant contributions to the adoption and foster care communities. Renette, who has dedicated her career to the service of children and families, has been instrumental to DAI's mission to enhance the lives of everyone touched by adoption. Through her efforts at Freddie Mac, she has helped to fund some of DAI's greatest work, including our Adoption Support and Preservation Initiative – also known as “Keeping the Promise”. As the Freddie Mac Foundation closes its doors at the end of this year, we were thrilled to learn more about the woman behind so many meaningful advancements in the adoption and foster care field.

We know that news coverage drives awareness and, ultimately, a motivation to influence positive change. Three recent news items related to this issue’s theme, Adoption Support Services, report on one positive development and one setback at the state level, as well as federal policymakers’ examination of "re-homing."  Please visit News & Views for timely updates. 

Post-adoption Services Expand Adoptive Families Want Help for Special Needs Children U.S. Senators Say Federal Action May be Needed to Curb 'Re-homing'

The Freddie Mac Foundation has awarded DAI a generous grant to support the next phase of our Keeping the Promise initiative. This grant follows a similar gift last year, validating our work and enabling us to continue providing leadership in the area of Pre- and Post-Adoption services – one of DAI’s four key pillars. In Keeping the Promise: Translating Research into Action we will seek to ensure that children and youth adopted from foster care adjust positively and remain in their new homes, while supporting adoptive parents and stabilizing families. The funding will allow us to continue our advocacy work at the federal level while enabling us to delve further into individual state intricacies and complexities.

This will be the Foundation’s last such gift to DAI. After 23 years of operation, The Freddie Mac Foundation is closing. Over the years, the Foundatio has invested in diverse efforts all targeted at making “home a place where children and families thrive.” From the beginning, special attention was given to supporting children in foster care. Its work in this area alone has benefited tens of thousands of children in the communities it has served.

DAI is deeply grateful for all of the support we have received from the Freddie Mac Foundation. We salute and thank all of the dedicated and talented Foundation staff who have done so much to improve the lives of countless children and families. The Foundation’s closing is a profound loss to all of us working in the child welfare community. The time is now for a new philanthropic leader with the same kind of vision and commitment to children and families to step up and fill the space Freddie Mac is leaving behind.

DAI highlights two upcoming events – the International Forum on International Adoption and Global Surrogacy, a learning opportunity for adoption practitioners and professionals worldwide, and the 16th Annual Angels in Adoption Gala, a celebration honoring individuals, couples, and organizations making extraordinary contributions on behalf of children in need of families. For a list of all events, see the calendar on our homepage.

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The Donaldson Adoption Institute’s mission is to provide leadership that improves laws, policies and practices – through sound research, education and advocacy – in order to better the lives of everyone touched by adoption.


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Donaldson Adoption Institute
120 East 38th Street
New York, NY 10016