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Fairhill Partners Collaborative Campus
Cleveland, OH 44120

Our Stories

The task of locating family members can seem daunting. Still, through collaborative efforts and meticulous research, the goal is to provide accurate and concise information to those searching for their roots.

Abby joined Adoption Network Cleveland as the Family Support Coordinator in January 2024. In this role, she is responsible for providing responsive support and opportunities for parents, caregivers, and youth in adoptive, foster, and kinship families.

Join us in celebrating the invaluable contributions of Black authors, creators, and educators this February—and all year long. In honor of Black History Month, we are highlighting profound works covering adoption, foster care, and kinship care by Black researchers and storytellers. If any of these books spark your interest, consider purchasing from a Black-owned bookstore.

We need Lobby Day volunteers! Register by March 15th to join us in making a difference!

“After every Lobby Day, people come back at the end and they are invigorated and excited and say—that was amazing! I’m so glad I did that! I felt like I made a difference!!” our contract lobbyist Aaron Ockerman said. “Any trepidation they had at 9 am is completely gone by 3 pm.”

Together, we have the power to affect policies that impact the lives of our community. Each year, Adoption Network Cleveland volunteers and staff travel in teams to lobby our state representatives and senators, both freshman and veterans alike. We set Tuesday, May 7th as our 2024 Lobby Day! Volunteers will advocate for our public policy agenda, deliver materials, and give attention getting gifts of branded candy.

In celebrating the remarkable milestone of our 35th anniversary, we embarked on a reflective journey with Betsie Norris, founder and Executive Director of Adoption Network Cleveland. With a wealth of experience garnered over three and a half decades of leadership, Betsie generously shares her top ten lessons learned in steering the course of an organization dedicated to advocacy, education, and support for those impacted by adoption.

Join us this year in one or all of our Special Topic General Discussion Meetings.

While the majority of meetings are open discussions, one group per month will offer a discussion based on a special topic. Our topic meetings are very popular and a great way to welcome people who don’t normally attend a support group.

“It was started for those who had these surprise circumstances come up,” said Karen Wyman, a program manager at the Adoption Network. She oversees the DNA Discovery Support Group established by the nonprofit. She specializes in helping people find family members.

In the late 2010s in the USA, data and technology had led to easily accessible, reasonably reliable DNA testing and matching of biological relatives. My understanding and trust in data, coupled with the loss of my brother a few years prior, led me to spit in a tube and send it off to the leading ancestry companies at the time (there may also have been some wine involved, back then). It would be fun. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. And if anything materialized, it would be really neat to meet someone I shared blood with.

Four Adoption Network Cleveland Board of Directors completed their terms of service and retired from the board, including Molly Cissell, Daniel Gisser, Julie Lady, and Carlin Culbertson. All four were honored for their service at the 2023 Annual Meeting in November.

Aaron Ockerman and Carrie Lauterbach are our 2023 Advocates of the Year

Susan Saltzman Recognized as our 2023 Volunteer of the Year

Adoption Network Cleveland Board Members 2023 - Kim Dyckes, Carla Lanier, Jeffery Rohrs, Kirsten Simonton, Christine Zanoni, Ron Copfer

"Being adopted internationally from Russia, I had been under the impression that it simply wasn’t possible to search for my birth family due to the little information given regarding my origins. I never entertained the idea of a reunion that seemed to be blatantly impossible; I would just have to continue to wonder where my traits came from, or maintain a facade of disinterest."

Weaving Cultures | Supporting Families Formed Through Transracial Adoption

Creating Futures 2023 Keynote Speaker, Tammara Humbert

I want to take you back.  Back to the feeling of a young 14yr old teenager looking to connect with her birth family & discover roots and where she came from.

With the recent passing of Jimmy Buffett, it seems everyone has a Jimmy story, and for me his music is inextricably tied to my birthmom, Linda.

Eamon Larkin serves as finance committee chair at Adoption Network Cleveland and is proud to be a part of something bigger than himself. He is a CPA who works with both Budget Dumpster and Wastepay to ensure that smaller waste companies can afford to operate amidst competition.

For some, looking for your parents isn’t something everyone has to go through while for others, it can be an emotional journey that takes time and lots of resources.

Adoption Network Cleveland is proud to have played a supporting role in an adoption story soon to be showcased at Playhouse Square in Cleveland on Aug. 4 and 5. The one-hour solo performance, titled "A Secret in Plain Sight," is written and performed by Kevin Gladish, a native of Cleveland currently residing in Chicago. In his show, Kevin takes the audience on a journey through his personal experience as a Late Discovery Adoptee and his search for truth.

Introducing JJ Rett who will co-facilitate a General Discussion Meeting which meets on the 1st Thursday of each month.

Dylan McIntosh, a former foster child turned advocate, utilizes his unique experiences and resilient spirit to inspire change and empower others within the foster care community. In this post, Dylan looks back and shares invaluable lessons about adaptability, resilience, and the power of hope learned through his foster care journey.

In November, Adoption Network Cleveland’s board welcomed four new board members: Corrine Gist, Tammara Humbert, Edie Sweeterman, and Amy Zlotnik. Glenn Cook joined the board earlier in 2022. We think, after reading, you will join us in congratulating our Board’s Leadership Development Committee for working to recruit such mission-centered, professionally diverse, and ready to serve individuals!

It's time for fall workplace giving campaigns. Many workplaces run charitable giving campaigns through organizations such as United Way or Greater Cleveland Community Shares or simply through their Human Resources department. You can designate Adoption Network Cleveland as your charity of choice for a one-time gift or payroll deduction to support our programs and services all year long.

The facilitators of our Birth Mother Support Group, Lindsey and Nikki, shared a bit about what brought them to Adoption Network Cleveland and why they chose to be volunteer facilitators. Our Birth Mother Support Group provides a safe and supportive environment to help with the complexities that are often part of the adoption experience. The meetings are open to birth mothers connected by the lifelong journey of adoption and are an opportunity for birth mothers to encourage one another in their healing process through discussion and interaction.

Barbara and Dan were our original virtual General Discussion Meeting facilitators. They began hosting an online meeting for Adoption Network Cleveland long before Zoom became a household name and the pandemic shut down forced service organizations to rethink how they might continue to serve their populations. Because of Barbara and Dan's experience and guidance, Adoption Network Cleveland General Discussion Meetings were able to make the transition to a virtual format smoothly. We are grateful to have them both as volunteer facilitators! In this blog, they both share a little about why they chose to become volunteer facilitators.

A nagging doubt led Sara to confirm through DNA testing whether or not the man who raised her was her biological father. When she confirmed that he was not, it led her life on a journey she didn't expect.

We are grateful to Becky and Oliver for their willingness to use their facilitator experience to expand the support offerings at Adoption Network Cleveland. With the wide use of at-home DNA testing, the need for a support group for individuals who have experienced a DNA surprise, both adoption and non-adoption related, became apparent in recent years. Becky and Oliver stepped up to offer their expertise and start a new group. Based on our General Discussion Meeting model, the focus of the DNA Discovery Support Group is the emotional journey and not the technical aspects. Both Becky and Oliver have facilitated General Discussion Meetings before agreeing to be the facilitators for this new group which takes place on the first Tuesday of each month at 8:00 pm ET. Becky and Oliver were kind enough to share with us why they are part of Adoption Network Cleveland.

Adoption Network Cleveland welcomes Westfield Bank as a new Corporate Partner. Learn more about Westfield Bank and their role in our community as a community bank.

Adoption Network Cleveland is incredibly lucky to have an energetic core of volunteers who add greatly to the capacity of the organization and our ability to provide services. Our General Discussion Meeting and Support Group Facilitators are an especially committed group of volunteers – they give of their own time, energy, and spirit to provide support for others through facilitating our meetings each month. In this blog, Kim, facilitator of our 2nd Wednesday General Discussion meeting was gracious to answer some questions for us about why she chooses to be a volunteer facilitator.

Adoption Network Cleveland is incredibly lucky to have an energetic core of volunteers who add greatly to the capacity of the organization and our ability to provide services. Our General Discussion Meeting and Support Group Facilitators are an especially committed group of volunteers – they give of their own time, energy, and spirit to provide support for others through facilitating our meetings each month. This week, Marni, facilitator of our 2nd Tuesday General Discussion meeting was gracious to answer some questions for us about why she chooses to be a volunteer facilitator.

Adoption Network Cleveland is incredibly lucky to have an energetic core of volunteers who add greatly to the capacity of the organization and our ability to provide services. Our General Discussion Meeting and Support Group Facilitators are an especially committed group of volunteers – they give of their own time, energy, and spirit to provide support for others through facilitating our meetings each month. Linda Bellini was gracious to answer some questions for us for this blog about why she chooses to be a volunteer facilitator.

We are re-sharing our popular blog post on the use of direct-to-consumer DNA testing as this is a timely topic. What are the pros and cons? What should you consider? How will you interpret the results? DNA testing has proven to be an effective tool in adoption searches and we are here to help!

Grey Hilliard-Koshinsky (they, them, theirs), former foster youth, adopted person, and child welfare professional, shares with us five things adoptive, kinship, foster care, and other caregivers need to know about creating an affirming home for youth.

Adoption Network Cleveland is grateful to have Ockerman Consulting as one of our Corporate Partners. We would also like to thank Aaron Ockerman and Ockerman Consulting for their continuous support and work as our Public Policy consultant. Together we are creating lasting, significant change for adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, and all those we serve by providing them a voice in legislation that impacts their lives and families.

On Wednesday, May 18, Adoption Network Cleveland held its Annual Lobby Day at the Ohio Statehouse. Seven teams of volunteers met with 45 legislators to discuss three priority topics that are part of Adoption Network Cleveland’s Public Policy Agenda this year. Learn more about Lobby Day and the issues on the blog.

May is National Foster Care Month, an opportunity to recognize the incredible strengths and attributes of those who have endured and survived early childhood adversity. We can help current and former foster youth by eliminating stereotypes and elevating the voices of those with lived experience. Individuals may heal from their trauma or remain stuck depending on whether they have individuals around them who either build them up or tear them down.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month - but keeping families strong and resilient takes a village every single day. Regardless of one’s socioeconomic or educational level, parenting can be rewarding and yet very stressful. As threats of financial and health insecurity continue to rise from the prolonged pandemic, and fear of overwhelming instability throughout the world fills the news, families have significant levels of stress which increases the risk for abuse and neglect to surface. Together we can provide families the support they need to stay together, and ensure children get help if they are in an unsafe situation.

Thank you to Cohen & Co. for their continued support of Adoption Network Cleveland. We are pleased to have them as a Collaborator-level sponsor this year! Learn more about Cohen & Co. and their contributions to the Cleveland financial community on the blog.

Lindsey Thrasher just celebrated her one-year anniversary with Adoption Network Cleveland. She serves Ohio kinship and adoptive families as an OhioKAN Adoption and Kinship Navigator at the Adoption Network Cleveland. OhioKAN is a statewide program that is contracted with Adoption Network Cleveland to come alongside kinship and adoptive families to meet their unique needs. In her role as a Navigator, she helps foster permanency by connecting families with resources available locally and statewide.  

While we have highlighted our new staff members over the last couple of months, we want to recognize our incredible tenured staff who have helped provide consistency and continuity throughout the years. This month we would like to offer our heartfelt appreciation for Julius Jackson.

When it comes to numbers, Abby Del Rio loves working with them, and that is just one of the reasons she is a perfect fit for our Director of Finance. We are pleased to welcome Abby to the team!

A new year brings a fresh new perspective as we welcome Ty Cliffel as our Director of Programs. In her role at Adoption Network Cleveland, Ty will bring her experience working with children and families, as well as adoptees and birth parents, in various settings including private practice, schools, support groups, residential treatment, and group homes, to help create, plan, develop, coordinate, and evaluate our programs and services.

Adoption Network Cleveland needs volunteers for our 2022 Lobby Day, which will take place on Wednesday, May 18, 2022.

Meet Kelsey Reilly, Adoption Network Cleveland's new Development Coordinator!

Meet our new Donor Engagement Specialist, C.J. Washington!

We are so pleased to have CFNA join our Corporate Partners program this year, supporting programs that help children and families stay strong and resilient.

A BIG Shout Out to our Collaborator-Level Corporate Partner, Kaulig Giving! Thank you for supporting Adoption Network Cleveland! Kaulig Giving is committed to bringing enthusiasm, compassion, and support to every aspect of their giving and volunteer engagements, supporting the well-being of children and families in our community.

Thank you for supporting Adoption Network Cleveland! Meaden & Moore’s culture embraces and encourages active civic and community involvement.

Adoption Network Cleveland has welcomed several new staff members in the last six months. We would like to take the opportunity to introduce each of them and share our excitement as we look toward the new year with fresh ideas and excitement! This week, we provide an opportunity to get to know our Program Coordinator for Families and Youth, Brian Lutz.

Adoption Network Cleveland is thrilled to announce our 2021 Triad Advocate of the Year: Cloé Cooper! Find out a little bit more about Cloé and her work as an advocate for Ohio's youth in foster care and foster care alum.

Even though Debra worked in the child welfare field and had been around adoption her entire life, finding out as an adult that she was herself adopted but had not been told was a shocking experience for her. Through a referral from a coworker, she was able to find Adoption Network Cleveland and found support, understanding, and healing in our General Discussion Meetings.

Our newest Grants and Donor Engagement VISTA comes to Adoption Network Cleveland with a wealth of experiences in serving through service, leadership in complex circumstances, and through lived experiences as a member of the adoption constellation. We are very happy to welcome Bethany Murray as she spends a year with us as part of the Americorps VISTA program, preparing for a career in social work and advocacy.

A statement adapted from a communication to the Ohio Senate from members of ACTION Ohio, the Ohio Youth Advisory Board (YAB), and the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio calling for a statewide Youth Ombudsman Office. Adoption Network Cleveland is one of the many organizations supporting this campaign.

Kendall Miller is Adoption Network Cleveland's new Outreach & Communications VISTA. She will be with us for the next year, focusing on outreach in the community to increase our program attendance and also enhancing our organization's communications strategies. Welcome Kendall!

Every year, more than $4 billion dollars in matching gift revenue is not accessed by donors in the US. Find out how you can make sure this opportunity to double your donation doesn't pass you by!

As an adoptee or a birth family member, you legally have access to the non-identifying information file at the adoption agency that facilitated the adoption or Probate Court. What is non-identifying information and how can adoptees and birth family access these records? Through working with birth family members and adoptees in Ohio who are trying to find answers regarding their genetic identity, family, and/or medical history, Adoption Network Cleveland has identified some areas where we believe an effort to raise awareness about current law will be helpful for those impacted as well as for the professionals who serve them.

Adoption Network Cleveland is preparing for our 2021 Lobby Day and we need your help! Volunteers are needed to prepare materials, make appointments with legislators and to participate in Lobby Day.

Olivia Yamamoto fit in perfectly with our team at Adoption Network Cleveland, despite the many challenges of the last year. She completed her VISTA year remotely as our Grants & Donor Engagement VISTA with flying colors, using her articulate writing skills and inventive ideas to expand our grant awards during the pandemic. Everyone on staff appreciates the hard work and dedication she brought to her service, and we can't wait to see what Olivia will accomplish next as she moves forward with college and tackles the world! Hear what Olivia has to say about her year with Adoption Network Cleveland.

Estes Turner’s adoption journey has led to not only a reunion with his birth mother and other family members, but also a commitment to Adoption Network and helping others in their own journey.

Ann grew up knowing that she was adopted but did not pursue searching for her family of origin while her adoptive father was alive. At 63 she accessed her original birth certificate from the State of Ohio and moved forward with her search. What she found was a loving family of siblings and nieces and nephews who were grateful she had finally found them.

Anita Miller’s family formed through transracial adoption found support and connection through Adoption Network Cleveland. 

When long-time Adoption Network Cleveland advocate Karen uncovered a family secret, she found a personal need for the organization’s services. Through General Discussion Meetings and one-on-one support, she was able to navigate the complexities of uncovering her genetic identity and reconciling it with who she always believed herself to be.

Jeanne Hood, a birth mother and member of the Birth Mother's Day Ceremony Planning Committee, shares the importance of the yearly commemoration and hopes for the future.

Selimah Nemoy shares an excerpt from her book, "Since I Lost My Baby: A Memoir of Temptations, Trouble, and Truth." Selimah is a storyteller, journalist, and author. Born in Los Angeles, her coming-of-age journey was shaped by soul music in the 1960s, then by the turbulent, multicultural 1970s in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area. She served with the (President Bill Clinton) White House Press Corps in 1994, and as the English editor for both an Italian-American and a Japanese-American newspaper. Her play, THE DADDIES, was performed at the Buriel Clay Theatre in San Francisco’s Western Addition, and her short story, GOODBYE, received first place at the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference. Selimah has been in reunion with her daughter since 1991.

Sandy Rogers shares with us an excerpt from her book, "Sacrifice for Love." She lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and her peers know her in the holistic, spiritual, and metaphysical business arena as the Referral Queen. She provides consulting and promotes businesses, events, and products. Sandy is a birth mother who surrendered her only child to adoption in 1964. She is an advocate for adoption reform and, in 1985, helped create new law in Kentucky that allowed adult adoptees to petition the courts for their original birth certificates. In 2020, she testified in the Arizona Legislature for similar law changes.

Direct-to-consumer DNA kits have exposed another issue kept silent in the past by deception – fertility fraud. Our organization is supporting legislation that would make fertility fraud a criminal offense in Ohio.

Kim Rednour will be interning with our Development & Communications department during the spring semester. We are excited to have Kim join us for a short while to work on our Creating Futures campaign and communication efforts.

2020 Creating Futures Raffle winner is planning for the future, and can't wait to use her trip for two to Ireland!

Adoption Network Cleveland believes that every child deserves a safe, nurturing, and permanent family and that no person should be excluded from adopting or fostering a child solely because of race, color, creed, age, marital status, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. If affirmed, the Fulton v. City of Philadelphia case currently in front of the Supreme Court would allow private agencies receiving federal funding to opt-out of nondiscrimination laws, enabling them to exclude same-sex couples from adopting, among others.

Emergency Fund Helps Adoptive, Kinship, and Foster Families Maintain Stability Despite Challenging Times

Traci Onders, Search Specialist - Adult Adoptees & Birthparents at Adoption Network Cleveland, was interviewed in January 2021 by Severance Magazine about our new DNA Discovery Group. Traci shared information about the group and why it was important for Adoption Network to introduce this new group as a part of our General Discussion Meetings.

On February 8th, we will virtually welcome New York Times best-selling author Gabrielle Glaser to discuss her new book American Baby: A Mother, A Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption recently released on January 26, 2021. Adoption Network Cleveland was able to obtain an advanced copy of American Baby and we can confirm this well-researched non-fiction read will reel you into all the complexities of adoption history. Glaser shines a light on all perspectives of the adoption constellation, seamlessly telling in-depth stories while intertwining harmful agency practices and historical context.

The Nachman’s celebrated their son Emmet’s adoption finalization with a drive-by celebration full of colorful signs, best wishes, and donations to Adoption Network Cleveland.

Our Monday Evening Speaker Series has resumed as of January 4 with a new line-up of thought-provoking content over the next few months. But what if you missed the original offerings? Past presentations, including those from April-June 2020, are available on our YouTube channel. 

NRP Group’s new paid leave policy includes extended paid leave for adoptive parents, joining other companies across the US that are Adoption-Friendly Workplaces. Adoption Network Cleveland applauds this policy change which supports permanency for children and strong families.

Since our founding, public policy and advocacy efforts on issues connected to adoption and child welfare have been core to Adoption Network Cleveland’s mission. Today, this work is continued with the assistance of our Public Policy Committee and ensures your voice is heard. 

Maureen Heffernan has been connected to Adoption Network Cleveland since the beginning, and over the years has been a dedicated volunteer. She brings her wealth of knowledge and passion into her efforts, and currently facilitates the Adoption 101 workshop for prospective parents, and is active on the Program Committee.

Our joint conference, Journeys of Discovery: Navigating the Intersections of Adoption, in partnership with Adoption Knowledge Affiliates was a success! Here's a brief recap of our jammed-pack, two-day event.

One of Adoption Network Cleveland’s veteran employees recently received a 2020 Angels in Adoption award. We can’t think of a more deserving individual who is devoted to helping families provide a loving family and permanency for children in need.

Blogger Mindy Stern shared an article this month that hit home for many of us. She proposes that much of what the wider world knows about adoption is wrong. The primary adoption vernacular of “Better,” “Chosen,” and “Grateful” is an idealized version of adoption that not only is inaccurate but also harmful for the adoptees that adoption is trying to “save.” Adoption is so much more complex and filled with loss, with grief, with unknowing, love, joy, and pain. The author suggests that we all acknowledge what it is: if you are adopted, your life isn’t automatically better. It’s different.

Adoption Network Cleveland welcomes AmeriCorps VISTA member Olivia Yamamoto! Olivia will be with our organization for the next year, providing expanded capacity in grant research and writing as well as support for our donor engagement strategies.

Meet Kayla Vonderau! She will spend the next year with Adoption Network Cleveland as our Communications & Outreach VISTA as part of the AmeriCorps VISTA program. Kayla's work will include building organizational capacity for program and volunteer outreach through virtual, in-person, and communication strategies.

Meet Susan Saltzman, one of Adoption Network Cleveland’s original members, who remains committed to the organization and our mission through active volunteering.

Summer is a great time to delve into a good film, and our staff have a few top picks for films that have strong adoption themes.

Do you want to leave a lasting impact on the Adoption Network Cleveland community? Not sure how to leave your mark? You have options! Planned giving is not limited to just people of great wealth, and can be done in a variety of ways. Join our Legacy Circle by making a gift that is meaningful to you and help plan for Adoption Network Cleveland's future.

A search for an adoptee or a birth family member is not only a technical process but an emotional journey as well. There are many ways to prepare, including discussion groups, reading, and developing a support system. Our organization has compiled decades of experience guiding adoptees and birth family members in one of the most vulnerable parts of this journey – reaching out and making contact.

Adoption Network Cleveland: The Ohio Family Connection condemns the acts of violence against our loved ones, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and  community members who are people of color,  and  we condemn  the rampant racism that  continues to  permeate  our  society.

For birthmothers everywhere this coming Mother's Day weekend, a poem honoring their strength and sacrifice.

During a lunch break, Dana Ozak walked past the former site of the DePaul Maternity and Infant Home from which her adoptive parents took her home after her birth and found no trace of the building or any evidence of the multitudes of lives impacted. This spurred a partnership with Adoption Network Cleveland to apply for an Ohio Historical Marker for the site of the DePaul and Florence Crittenton Homes.

Jamie Tuss, an adoptee and long-time Adoption Network member, reflects on the presentation provided by April Dinwoodie during a recent Monday Evening Speaker Series. April spoke about the dynamics of family culture and the statement she made during the presentation, "You must know who you are," rang especially true for Jamie.

Even in the face of uncertainty, Adoption Network Cleveland is here for our community and members. We recognize that these are uncertain times, but we can get through this challenge together. Our organization is providing many of our programs virtually during social distancing, and our staff is just a phone call or email away to provide support for you and your family.

Our Executive Director, Betsie Norris, shares a special message for our members and constituents during this difficult time, outlining program changes and Adoption Network Cleveland's commitment to our community.

Murray and Susan Van Epp have been long time supporters of Adoption Network Cleveland. Murray’s participation in Leadership Cleveland (Class of 2009) opened his eyes to the concept of civic responsibility and philanthropy and prompted him to develop a goal for planned giving. Their generosity comes from a deep commitment to giving back to organizations that have made a lasting impact on their lives. At the end of 2019, they made a planned gift of significant proportions which will propel Adoption Network forward as we move strategically into our future.

Nereida, a foster and adoptive parent, participates in the Family Ties Program. She and her family enjoy the opportunity to meet other families who have similar life experiences and to build a support network.

Volunteers are needed to make Adoption Network Cleveland Lobby Day 2020 a success! We need individuals to prepare for the event, as well as meet with Ohio legislators in Columbus on Wednesday, May 13, 2020.

It took Deb Wentz 20 years and being hired by Adoption Network Cleveland to attend a General Discussion Meeting. Now she wishes she had the support throughout her adoption journey and encourages other members of the adoption constellation to attend to find "others (who speak) the same language: the adoption language.”

Adoptee Renée DeLuca shares with us her journey to become reunited with her birthfather, Jack.

March 20, 2020, marks the 5th Anniversary of the implementation of the Ohio Access to Records Law. Adoption Network Cleveland will be holding the Journeys of Discovery Conference in March, in part to celebrate and acknowledge this tremendous milestone. More than 14,000 adult adoptees have accessed their original birth certificates so far in the last five years, removing the shroud of secrecy around adoption and reuniting family members. To kick off 2020, we are sharing this blog from the archives from nine adoptees who shared what the new Ohio Adoptee Law meant to them just days before "Opening Day."

From the newsletter archives, we share a story of one of our adoptive families. Natalie and James are a transracial couple who adopted their son Krishna from the public child welfare system. Natalie shares her perspective on their journey as a family, including being a naturalized citizen from India adopting a caucasian child, extended family acceptance and dealing with public misconceptions.

Kristina, an adoptee and member of Adoption Network Cleveland, shares her thoughts on National Adoption Awareness Month, and why it is important to hear about adoption from the adoptee perspective.

Our Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes outstanding volunteer service, the spirit by which this organization was founded 31 years ago, and which is still critical today.

This award provides Adoption Network Cleveland with an opportunity to honor and thank volunteers that support the organization in meaningful ways. Adoption Network Cleveland has so many deserving volunteers it is always hard to narrow it down to one each year. However, as we reflected on the past year, one volunteer clearly stood out.

Adoption Network Cleveland welcomes six new board members and one renewing board member to the 2020 Board of Directors!

Seven Adoption Network Cleveland Board of Directors completed their terms of service and retired from the board, including Denise Barone, Lisa Buescher, Mimi Data, Julia Dean, Tom Dent, JaNice Marshall, and Ellen Stephens. All seven were honored for their service at the 2019 Annual Meeting in November.

The Triad Advocate of the Year Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the adoption community as demonstrated by a specific accomplishment, project, program or milestone. Adoption Network Cleveland was pleased to honor three individuals this year for their contributions to the field including Representative Janine Boyd; Amber Donovan, Executive Director of Community of Hope; and Christie Manning, Senior Program Officer of Saint Luke's Foundation.

Ginger and Bev, a birthmother and an adult adoptee, share their unique perspectives on their reunion story in hopes of inspiring others in the Adoption Network Cleveland community.

Workplace giving can take many forms. One successful strategy is to not only get your employees involved, but your customers too!

Adoptive mom of six Lori McCarthy provides a review of Ohio therapist Arleta James' new book, "The Science of Parenting Adopted Children," highlighting the wealth of resources outlined in the book.

Even though librarian Mitz Horrigan is not a member of the adoption triad, she has found a connection to Adoption Network through volunteering. Over the last year, Mitz has lead the reorganization of our member lending library. She shares why working in our library was exactly the type of volunteer opportunity she was looking for.

Dr. Wilson dives into our nation's current political environment and the impact racialized discrimination has on international adoptees, especially children. She cautions parents against avoiding the political and historical rhetoric, and instead encourages parents to treat tough topics like racialized discrimination as an opportunity to know themselves and their child more deeply.

Nick Weaver has spent a year at Adoption Network Cleveland as the Volunteer and Outreach VISTA. Now that his year is almost up, Nick takes some time to reflect on his year of service.

Sharon Kaplan Roszia and Allison Davis Maxon have co-authored Seven Core Issues in Adoption and Permanency: A Comprehensive Guide to Promoting Understanding and Healing in Adoption, Foster Care, Kinship Families and Third Party Reproduction, which was recently released by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in July 2019. This article was republished with permission from Adoptalk, a publication of the North American Council on Adoptable Children at nacac.org.

John Bonfiglio has remained an active Adoption Network Cleveland donor and member for many years because he truly “believes in the organization and what’s being done.” John clearly remembers the moments he felt he was able to make a difference, like working on our Adopt Cuyahoga’s Kids initiative and being a part of the original campaign to start an endowment fund.

Authors Dan Chaon, Paula McLain, Barbara Raymond, Loung Ung and Abby Vandiver, along with moderator D.M. Pulley, thrilled a full house at the Music Box Supper Club on June 12th as they discussed books, life and the impact of adoption, kinship and foster care in their lives and on their writing. In what turned out to be an incredibly intimate evening with these six talented writers, the audience was treated to a truly unique experience.

Dave and his biological brother, both adopted when they were young, finally met after 30 years apart. While it answered some questions for them both, it was just the start of their journey together to fill in the missing parts of their story.

Margaret Currie, has spent the last year at Adoption Network Cleveland as an AmeriCorps VISTA in our Development Department. She has been a valuable resource for our development efforts, assisting us in expanding our capacity to identify new grant funders and build our donor base. Here about Margaret’s experience at Adoption Network and how she plans to use what she has learned moving forward.

The Adoption Network Scholar's Program provides a unique experience for undergraduate students to expand their personal and professional skill set by learning more about the lifelong journey of adoption. Christine Sourek, a social work major at Cleveland State University, shares her experience an Adoption Network Scholar.

The following search story was written in 2005 and recently shared with Adoption Network Cleveland by Mary Higgins, a birthmother, who writes, “Somehow, the end of my search was just the beginning for me…people kept telling me that it would provide closure, but for me it was an opening. An opening of my heart to the story that began more than 30 years ago. Finally, I am free to share this story with all of my friends and family and now to you out there who may relate in some way.”

Direct to consumer DNA testing is dramatically changing the way people are searching for adoptees and birth family; and may be making adoption reunion registries obsolete. We take a look at the risks and costs associated with adoption reunion registries in an effort to help a searcher make an informed decision about the available options.

2019 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Children’s Bureau publishing of Minimum Standards of Child Welfare, which was an important step in revolutionizing the way Americans viewed child welfare.

Adoption Network Cleveland’s permanency navigation services are here to help prospective parents throughout their adoption journey. Learn more about how a family in Idaho felt empowered by utilizing this support.

Cleveland State University offers a unique scholarship opportunity for youth who are aging out of foster care or have experienced foster care. The Sullivan-Deckard and Helen Packer Scholarship Opportunity Programs are one-of-a-kind in the state of Ohio as they provide a “comprehensive system of support” for foster alumni to succeed.

As part of Adoption Network Cleveland’s public policy agenda, we’re focusing on advocating for and supporting the creation of a foster care ombudsman program in Ohio. This program would help ensure the well-being and safety of children and youth in foster care. Ombudsman offices operate as a neutral complaint resolver designed to investigate complaints and make recommendations in a non-adversarial setting. During his campaign, Governor Mike DeWine listed creating a foster care ombudsman office among his top child welfare priorities along with increasing funding in this area among other systemic changes.

Since 1993, Adoption Network Cleveland has welcomed birthmothers and their supporters for our annual Birthmother’s Day Ceremony on the day before Mother’s Day. This ceremony provides the opportunity to honor and recognize all women whose children were placed for adoption.

Ohio is the only state that has developed a specific training process for all practitioners who provide foster care and adoption services. Adoption Network Cleveland helps administer this training as a partner with the North Central Regional Training Center, contracted through the Institute for Human Services.

Brady Cohen, volunteer, chief digital officer at Dix and Eaton, a family man and an adoptee gives back to Adoption Network Cleveland.

Spring has sprung, and it’s time for us to flex our green thumb in our community garden!

Get Real provides teens in foster care a dynamic opportunity in a safe and supportive environment to listen and share their experiences and hopes for the future with others. These groups provide a safe place for participants with no judgement and to be themselves.

Adoption Network Cleveland uses a peer support model in much of its programming and Family Ties is no exception. Learn about our parent leaders, the Parent Advisory Team, in this article.

Bill Beagle, guest blogger, former State Senator and co-sponsor of Ohio’s Adoptee Access to Records legislation reflects on the process as we approach the fourth anniversary of Ohio’s long awaited “Opening Day” March 20, 2015 when 400,000 adult adoptees could finally apply for and receive their original birth certificate.

How much do you understand about LGBTQ2S, SOGIE and proper pronouns? One of our partners, Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, is looking for affirming families who want to foster or adopt LGBTQ2S children and youth. Learn more about the AFFIRM.ME. program and how you might become involved.

Guest blogger and adoptee Robin Zidek shares her story, a poignant reminder that adoption is a life-long journey and that “finding your people” is an important step to healing.

Nearly five years after finding his hobby, Marty Resnik uses his art to benefit local organizations. As an Adoption Network Cleveland member and donor, Marty continues to spread the word about the impact of our organization.

Linda Rogers attended Adoption Network Cleveland’s founding conference, and it altered the course of her life. 30 years later, she remains a strong supporter and member.

Adoption Network Cleveland recently spoke to staff at the Cuyahoga County Division of Children & Family Services, who provided insight to kinship family resources in Ohio and specifically in Cuyahoga County.

Lobby Day is an incredibly important part of our advocacy mission and Adoption Network Cleveland relies on motivated volunteer advocates to augment our voice to the state government.

The Weaving Cultures Transracial Family Group offers a setting where both children and adults can form relationships, find resources and spend time with other families who share similar experiences.

After being separated from her two younger brothers while they were in foster care sixty years ago, Karen decided to search for them with the help of Adoption Network Cleveland.

Adoption is complex, but Adoption Network Cleveland’s General Discussion Meetings are a safe place for all members of the adoption triad to gather for support, deeper understanding and hope. Elaine Hagan shares the impact that General Discussion Meetings continue to have on her life.

Every adoptee and birthparent is different. Consider working together at the outset to develop guiding principles for your adoption reunion.

Thom Nykamp, Vice President of Executive Compensation for Eaton, serves on our Board of Directors. Thom has been touched by the stories and wide expanse of programs Adoption Network Cleveland has to offer!

Adoption Network Cleveland’s program Reconnections helps alumni of foster care navigate the complexities of reconnecting with birth family. Advocate and foster alum Lisa Dickson of Foster ACTION Ohio weighs in on the importance of this support.

Adam and Amanda Deal epitomized hope and resilience during their journey to becoming adoptive parents and continue to promote family and love despite overwhelming health challenges. Adoption Network Cleveland celebrated Adam and Amanda through special recognition at the Annual Meeting 2018.

The Triad Advocate of the Year Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the adoption community as demonstrated by a specific accomplishment, project, program or milestone. Adoption Network Cleveland was pleased to honor three individuals this year for their contributions to the community including Dr. Elaine Schulte, Ms. Lori Scobee and Dr. Elizabeth Swenson.

The Triad Advocate of the Year Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the adoption community as demonstrated by a specific accomplishment, project, program or milestone. Adoption Network Cleveland was pleased to honor three individuals this year for their contributions to the community including Dr. Elaine Schulte, Ms. Lori Scobee and Dr. Elizabeth Swenson.

The Triad Advocate of the Year Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the adoption community as demonstrated by a specific accomplishment, project, program or milestone. Adoption Network Cleveland was pleased to honor three individuals this year for their contributions to the community including Dr. Elaine Schulte, Ms. Lori Scobee and Dr. Elizabeth Swenson.

Adoption Network Cleveland was pleased to welcome five new members as well as two renewing members to the Board of Directors for the next term. 

An important part of our work at Adoption Network Cleveland is to develop and impact state law relating to adoption and child welfare issues, and 2018 was no exception. The Ohio legislature convenes in two year cycles, and we were involved in several bills during the 132nd General Assembly for 2017-2018. Here is an overview of bills and outcomes, as well as a little about what is to come in our advocacy work.

Four members of the Adoption Network Cleveland Board of Directors retired at the end of their terms and were honored for their service to the organization at the 2018 Annual Meeting in November.

For 30 years Adoption Network Cleveland has put our values into action. Every day we work to pursue our mission through Inclusiveness, Collaboration, Courage and Trust.

January is National Mentoring Month, and one of our EMBRACE Mentoring Program mentors, Dan Leschnik, shares why being a mentor is so important to him.

Ayanna Abi-Kyles and Robert “Gib” Gibbons both serve as Family Support Coordinators, and Julius Jackson serves as a Permanency Navigator and Training Coordinator. Adoption Network Cleveland is incredibly thankful for their combined 30+ years of invaluable service.

Beyond parents, this book is also an important resource for adoption professionals, teachers, mental health providers, medical providers, advocates, and anyone whose life has been touched by, or has a relationship with, an adopted person.

Lyrical and informative, Cleveland native Karen Pickell, born and adopted in the late 1960s, intersperses snippets of her own experience with social history and contemporary politics to elucidate the lifelong perceptions, needs and rights of adopted people.

Dottie Klemm has contributed 30 years of service to Adoption Network Cleveland. Her efforts were recognized as the recipient of our 2018 Founder's Award, given in the spirit of volunteerism by which the organization was founded in 1988.

Children impacted by adoption, foster and kinship care may be triggered by family focused messaging during the holidays. Here are three tips for parents to combat the emotional triggers children may experience over winter break.

'Instant Family' delves into the dynamics involved in foster care and adoption on many levels and from multiple aspects, while also reminding us to keep our sense of humor.

As donors, we have many choices of who to support during the holiday season. When you make a gift to Adoption Network Cleveland, you become a part of our Network, changing the lives of individuals, children and families that are impacted by adoption and foster care.

Every adoptee’s choice to search, or not to search, for their birth family is equally valid and personal to their needs. Neither is right or wrong.

Heidi and Roy Shunk have relied on Adoption Network Cleveland Permanency Navigator Julius Jackson to move along a lengthy, but worthwhile, adoption process.

Online shopping is an easy way to support Adoption Network Cleveland. Sign up to give as you shop through AmazonSmile and iGive!

Annual Gift Card Drive benefits older youth who have experienced trauma, are in foster care or who have been in foster care.

Adoption Network Cleveland welcomes poem submissions for our Birthmother's Day Ceremony from birthmothers at all stages of the experience, and especially from those that are early in the journey.

As an adoptee searching for her birthparents in the 1990s, Kim Donato felt 'pulled' toward Adoption Network Cleveland by its grassroots culture. Since then, she's been closely involved as a member and has grown in ways she never imagined.

Adoption Network Cleveland advocates for increased supports for foster parents to improve retention of highly-engaged foster parents.

Transracial adoption as a phenomenon has a short, volatile history in North America. While the debate about the effects has been hotly contested, most people likely see the issue as a continuous aspect of adoption research.

Adoption Network Cleveland staff participated in training in September about Trust-Based Relational Intervention to enhance our programming and work with families.

Adoptee Becky Drinnen describes her desire for knowledge and connection to her biological roots as completing a puzzle. With the help of DNA, she finally put all those pieces in place.

It is important for those impacted by adoption to identify an adoption-competent therapist when looking for mental health support.

Youth aging or aged out of the foster care system face different challenges than their counterparts, so proper support systems are critical during their transition to adulthood. Bridges, run by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and Reconnections, run by Adoption Network Cleveland, are two programs that can provide support.

The emotional ESPN story of an NFL coach and an adoptee searching for his birthparents underscores the importance and continuing impact of Adoption Network Cleveland’s successful advocacy for adoptee access to birth records.

VISTAs are here to build capacity at Adoption Network Cleveland! Meet our new Grants and Donor Engagement VISTA, and Volunteers and Outreach VISTA.

The George Gund Foundation has been a consistent funding partner with Adoption Network Cleveland, supporting the organization’s advocacy work and programs since 1995.

After they adopted their son, parents Mary and Marty found the support and sense of community that they needed for their journey at Adoption Network Cleveland.

Individuals seek out volunteer experiences for several reasons. Here are three worth considering to make volunteering a part of your life.

For people connected to youth (or adults) who have experienced childhood trauma, reframing or looking at a situation from a different perspective can be critical.

Facing lifelong questions about where she came from, adoptee Kara Carter turned to DNA to aid a complicated search as she eventually connected with her birth family.

Professionals working alongside traumatized victims listen to heavy narratives frequently, which can sometimes cause a phenomenon called vicarious trauma. There are a few simple and effects steps to both prevent and soften the effects of vicarious trauma.

Most people know that mentoring a young person can have profound, lifelong outcomes on a young person's life. Mentoring also impacts mentors in ways you may not think.

A new mediation program for foster child placement will allow for more effective permanency planning for youth, while maintaining as many positive permanent connections for the child as possible.

Volunteers are involved in every aspect of the organization, and make us who we are. Many of our volunteers, like Maureen Heffernan, have been with us for a decade or more. Learn about her in this Q&A.

Have you received that dreaded call from the principal’s office at your child’s school before? Many children who are in adoptive, kinship and foster families face challenges in school. Here are six online educational resources that will help you support your child’s success in school.

When Jennifer Zisk-Vitron came to Adoption Network Cleveland: The Ohio Family Connection, in 2014 as the Youth Services Program Coordinator, she immediately saw the impact her work had on others.

Our community events are a time for the organization to re-engage, educate and share with the individuals and families we serve. They use the time to reconnect and share their struggles as well as accomplishments with each other. This is where we collectively develop our sense of community: people with shared experiences coming together to support one another.

Do yourself a favor and read as little as possible about 'Three Identical Strangers' before seeing the film. But make sure you see it if you have the opportunity. Like any well-told documentary, the film raises more questions than it answers.

Transitioning into foster or adoptive care is an immense, overwhelming experience. Keeping siblings together during these transitional times is imperative to temper trauma, but currently is not the legal precedent in Ohio. That's why Adoption Network Cleveland is pushing to change this through Ohio House Bill 448, writes Betsie Norris.

Young adults aging out of foster care can now turn to Reconnections, a new service from Adoption Network Cleveland, for help and support reconnecting with select members of their birth families.