• November 2011
  • Vol. 12, No. 8

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2011 Adoption Excellence Awards

Bernadette Dorsainville and family at AEA 2011
(Photo by Rodney Choice - Choice Photography)
Bernadette Dorsainville, with seven of her children, received an Adoption Excellence Award in the Family Contributions category. Ms. Dorsainville has fostered 14 children, adopted 4 children, and is in the process of adopting another child.

On October 12, 2011, the Children's Bureau honored 18 individuals and organizations with Adoption Excellence Awards, recognizing the recipients' contributions to providing stable, permanent homes for the nation's children in foster care. These awards demonstrate the Bureau's national commitment to rebuild the lives of the 408,000 children in foster care and to achieve permanency for the 107,000 of those who are waiting for adoption.

The awards, recognizing seven categories of excellence, were established in 1997 to honor States, local agencies, private organizations, courts, businesses, individuals, and families for their work in increasing adoptions from foster care. The award winners were chosen by a committee representing nonprofit adoption agencies, child welfare and adoption advocates, adoptive parents, foundations, businesses, and State and Federal offices.

This year's winners are listed within their award category:

Decrease in the Length of Time that Children in Foster Care Wait for Adoption:

  • Lilliput Children's Services, an adoption agency based in Sacramento, CA, that also provides foster care services to families in several California counties 
  • Diane Dexter and Wanda Audette, founders of Project Family in Vermont, a public-private partnership to recruit families for older children in foster care

Increased Adoptions of Older Children:

  • Betsie Norris, founder and Executive Director of Adoption Network Cleveland, OH
  • Harmony Adoptions of Tennessee, Inc., a nonprofit adoption agency with a mission to share life, love, and joy through adoption

Support for Adoptive Families:

  • American Samoa Government, Department of Human and Social Services, Adoption Division, the primary provider of adoption support services in American Samoa
  • Kathi Donofro, Permanency Specialist for 12 North Florida counties and founding member of The Heart Gallery of North Florida
  • Right Turn, a collaborative effort between Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska and Nebraska Children’s Homes Society

Family Contributions:

  • Bernadette Dorsainville, a single mother and nurse from Kingston, NY, who has fostered 14 children, adopted 4 children, and is in the process of adopting another child

Judicial/Child Welfare System Improvement:

  • Judge Karen Eileen Howze, appointed Magistrate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
  • Huron County Department of Job and Family Services—Children Services Unit, the agency in Northwest Ohio responsible for administering a number of public social services including Family Support, Child and Adult Protective Services, Child Care, and Workforce Development
  • Maura Corrigan, Director of the Michigan Department of Human Services and creator of the Michigan Adoption Forum
  • Dona Ana County Child Welfare Team, the child welfare team for the second largest county in New Mexico

Adoption of Minority Children From Foster Care:

  • Catherine A. Swessel, Director of Special Needs Adoption for Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin
  • Jeri Jasken, Director of the White Earth Indian Child Welfare Division in White Earth, MN
  • The Reverend Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., founder and CEO of Harvest of Hope Family Services Network Inc. in Somerset, NJ

Media/Public Awareness of Adoption From Foster Care:

  • Judge Martha Walsh Hood and the 5th Judicial District National Adoption Day Committee, Supervising Family Court Judge for the 5th Judicial District in Central New York
  • Kim Johnson, Adoption Specialist for Partnership for Strong Families in Gainesville, FL
  • Lynne Hayes-Freeland and KDKA-TV, Reporter and host of the bi-weekly KDKA program, Waiting Child that features children in foster care

For more information about the 18 recipients or the awards, visit the Children's Bureau's website:


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