September 11, 2013

Project Family Wins Prestigious Congressional ‘Angel In Adoption’ Award

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Adoption, Awards, DCF, Project Family tagged , , , , , at 3:37 pm by Lund

Wanda Audette, Director of Adoption at Lund was in meetings all day in Brattleboro on Monday and it took a call from Executive Director, Barbara Rachelson, to make her pause and step out of the meeting.  Barbara had important news to share.  Project Family, an innovative partnership between Lund and the Vermont Department of Children and Families headed by Wanda and Diane Dexter, Adoption Chief at DCF, had won an Angel in Adoption™ award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI).

“Receiving the Angel in Adoption™ is a wonderful honor,” says Wanda.  “ For me personally it reinforces that others agree with the importance that every child deserves a forever family that provides them with an unconditional relationship .  Having a family is a right for every child, not a privilege.”

Wanda in her office in Lund's new building at 50 Joy Drive.

Wanda in her office in Lund’s new building at 50 Joy Drive.

The  Angel in Adoption™ program is the CCAI’s signature public awareness campaign and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad.  Each year, more than 140 Angels are honored through the Angel in Adoption™ program.

Project Family was founded in 2000 when Diane learned that children were being brought in from out of state to be adopted in Vermont and Wanda learned that there  was a list of children waiting in foster homes in Vermont who had been deemed unadoptable.  For both women, this was unacceptable.  “We at Project Family believe that there are no unadoptable children only unfound homes and we are committed to making sure that every child has a family,” says Wanda.

“It’s really wonderful to win this award.   If you had told me 20 years ago that we would be where we are now, I wouldn’t have believed you.  It’s an amazing feat of collaboration. The DCF family service social workers work with the DCF Project Family staff and the Lund Project Family staff to achieve the highest degree of permanence and well-being for every child.   The most important thing is the continuity of care providers in children’s lives,”says Diane.

Last year (July 1st 2012 – June 30th 2013) 170 children were adopted through Project Family.  This is an amazing change from the statistics before the forming of Project Family.  Another radically improved statistic is that the median time between custody and adoption is 23.8 months.   A vast improvement and under the state’s goal of 24 months. Children are joining forever families because of Project Family.

Wanda and Diane will attend a gala in Washington D.C. on October 9th where all the angels from around the country and three celebrity recipients (Korie and Willie Robertson from ‘Duck Dynasty’ and Deborra Lee Furness Jackman) will be honored for their contributions to finding homes for children through adoption.

Both of the ladies will be familiar with the lay of the land in D.C as both have won this award before once each individually and once together.  To win again is a wonderful achievement and such a great opportunity to bring awareness to foster care adoption in Vermont.  One adoptive parents says of Wanda, “You know what? They say that there are no angels on earth but I think that there are some and that they just hide their wings well.  I think that Wanda is one of those people.”

Everyone at Lund is very proud of the work of Project Family, Wanda, Diane and staff members both at Lund and at DCF who strive every day to find homes for children.  CONGRATULATIONS!

Learn more about Project Family


  1. angel kirouac said,

    Wanda has changed the lives of my twin girls forever, without her commitment to adoption, we would never be together!!!!! She moved mountains in our case!!!!!!! You rock Wanda!!!!! Best to you! Angel, Ali & Emma – Rose!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Great post! Been reading a lot about different adoption stories. Thanks for the info!

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