People ask me all the time, "What exactly is the Adoption Institute? Is it some kind of think tank, or something else?" The answer is "yes" on both counts.
Someone in the adoption field has to look at the big picture, examine laws and policies, figure out best practices, and provide research and analysis to help professionals, policy-makers, activists and others work more effectively for children and families. That someone is the Adoption Institute, and those functions constitute the think-tank part of our identity.
In most ways, though, we are also "something else." Our guiding principle is that conducting the best study in the world on a major issue isn't enough - unless it demonstrably, tangibly improves people's lives . And that's what we strive to do every day, in every single program and project we do. In a nutshell, we may not place boys and girls into families, but when we do our jobs, it becomes easier for thousands more kids who need homes to get them - and, because of our unique initiatives, their everyday lives (along with those of their various parents, siblings and other relatives) get better, too.
A terrific example is "Listening to Parents," a recent report by one of our Senior Fellows, Jeff Katz, that is probably the best roadmap to date for making our child-welfare system more responsive to prospective mothers and fathers who want to adopt from foster care; professionals all over the country are following its recommendations - and that's great news for the many children who need permanent, loving homes.
Please take a look at our award-winning website, www.adoptioninstitute.org, which we have just redesigned so it looks better and is easier to use. "Listening to Parents" is there, as are dozens of other pieces of work that are invaluable resources for a broad array of professionals - from journalists to adoption practitioners, from teachers to politicians - and, vitally important, for adopted people and their relatives, by birth and adoption.
All of our unique work doesn't get done for free (dedicated as they are, our employees seem to insist on getting paid!), of course. So I'm delighted to welcome onto our staff Joellen Gavin, as Director of External Relations.
Joellen is a development professional with extraordinary credentials and a deep commitment to our cause; she would probably want me to add that she's also the proud new mom of Liliana, whom she and her husband, Steven, brought home from China just a few months ago. Jo is going to help us keep expanding our work and impact, and we're very lucky to have her.
Turn the pages of this issue of "Inside the Institute" to learn more about Jo and about three dynamic new members of our Board of Directors. We've got a new Senior Fellow, too; check out our website for his bio, as well as for more information about the star-studded event we recently held in Los Angeles; our upcoming 10th Anniversary year; our ongoing initiatives (like Educate the Educators, Educate the Media, and improving intercountry adoption); our newest projects (including Identity in Adoption, Siblings in Adoption and Foster Care, Birth Parents in Adoption, Ethics in Adoption, and New Reproductive Technologies and Adoption); and on and on.
No other organization, anywhere, is single-mindedly devoted to the kind of high-impact, life-altering work that we do. Contact us if you have questions, use our resources, support our efforts to make adoption the best it can be for everyone it touches, especially children. Is the Adoption Institute a think tank? Hardly. It's really something else.
With my heartfelt thanks,