The Adoption Institute was established in 1996 through the initiative of the Board of Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children, which saw a need for an independent and unbiased adoption research and policy organization.
Evan B. Donaldson was a member of the Spence-Chapin Board of Directors continuously from 1977 on, serving as president from 1986 until her death in 1994. She was energetically involved in the planning of the Institute. Dedicated to the value of families, Evan Donaldson worked tirelessly to enable infants and children to have permanent loving homes.
The Institute was officially named The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute on February 5, 1997. Evan's husband, William Donaldson, and their two children, Kim and Matthew attended the naming event along with other family and friends.