October 17, 2011

From the Executive Director

Posted in Adoption, From The Executive Director at 3:35 pm by Lund

Photo by Alison Redlich

I am delighted and proud that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has chosen Wanda Audette and Diane Dexter as two of 18 people across the country to receive one of their prestigious National Adoption Excellence Awards.  Wanda Audette has been the Director of Adoption at Lund for the last sixteen years and is the co-director of Project Family, a project to find and support families for older children in foster care. This award recognizes the work they have done changing the lives of so many Vermont children through the creation of Project Family.    As a result of Project Family, 330 children between five and 18 are now in permanent families and will have a future that is bright and hopeful.  These children will not experience the harsh reality of “aging out” of the foster care system. These children will have forever families that welcome them home for the holidays and support them throughout their lives.  I will still never forget hearing about one nine-year-old girl who Project Family found a “forever family” for.  She had lived in 27 different homes, the longest one for two years, the shortest for two months.   This award recognizes the vision that Wanda and Diane brought to fruition and that will hopefully make stories like this one extinct.

We recently had our adoption picnic on October 1st.   This year, it seemed like October came in “like a lion” with cold rain and wind as the weather for the day, seeming more like March than October—not what one would hope for as picnic weather.     When I got to the picnic and walked into the indoor venue we had at the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds, I could not believe how bright, cheery and festive the room was.    Between the balloons, bouncy castles, clowns, activity booths, and happy faces (many with bright face paint on them), it could not have mattered one iota what the weather was like outside!

Photo by Cat Cutillo/Lund Family Center

Each year, the adoption picnic is a special occasion of getting to celebrate families brought together through adoption and see the looks of pure joy on the faces of the children and parents who attend.    This year was no exception.     The picnic, to me, is a visible reminder each year of the hard work that our adoption staff does, day in and day out, year round to help form, grow and support adoptive families.   As Vermont’s largest and oldest adoption agency, it is still mind boggling to me to think about the number of adoptions Lund has completed since our inception (over 9000!) This is greater than the number of residents of the majority of any one town or city in Vermont!    And to look around the room at the families who were at this year’s event, I cannot even fathom the joy that Lund has been a part of creating.

Photo by Cat Cutillo/Lund Family Center

With all the great publicity related to the award that Wanda and Diane will be receiving, Kim Coe, our Director of Residential and Community Treatment Programs received a very moving email that she shared with me.  I wanted to share a small piece of it with you, as it sure made me proud to work at Lund and to be part of helping change lives:

I never think about what you do too much.  I know what you do, but I don’t think about the different aspects, or the outcomes.  Then I got the email from LFC about Project Family.  Dammit, now you have me in tears! Shame on all of you, for being the people we all hoped we’d grow up to be.  The ones who changes lives- literally.

 (how in God’s name can a child be “unadoptable???”) As if it were like going to get milk, a daily occurrence, nothing unique, requires a type of compassion, dedication, and flexibility few of us possess.

By the way, my mother told me that in 1960, when I was adopted at the age of four months, the case manager handling my case was afraid I was approaching the point of “unadoptability.” Let’s hope that in the next few years that that word can be banished from the vocabulary of because of the work of Audette, you, and everyone at LFC.

As we recognize National Adoption Month in a few weeks, I am proud of Lund’s role in building and supporting families through adoption and I am grateful to all our friends and supporters for making this work possible.

1 Comment »

  1. Karen & Bill McNamara said,

    Congratulations Wanda and Lund Family. We are so grateful everyday for your work helping to create our beautiful family 15 years ago (Emily & Derek). We are so proud to say that we worked with Lund and have on more than one occasion referred you to other people.Thanks for bringing so much love into many peoples lives.

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