Photo Essay: An Inside Look at the 2016 Angels in Adoption® Program


CCAI’s Angels in Adoption® Program consists of three days of events in Washington, D.C. where those who have made an extraordinary contribution in the lives of children through adoption or foster care are celebrated by Members of Congress.

Take a look at some of the highlights from the 2016 Angels in Adoption® Program!

2016 Angels in Adoption® Program honorees kicked off the week of events learning about CCAI and other child welfare organizations at CCAI’s Adoption and Foster Care Advocacy Fair and Ice Cream Social.
The rain did not stop CCAI’s Angels in Adoption® honorees as they toured the U.S. Capitol Building!
Congressional Coalition on Adoption member, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) at the Senate Breakfast with his constituents and Angels in Adoption® honorees, Buck and DeAndra Gibson and CCAI Executive Director, Becky Weichhand.
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chair, U.S. Representative Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), congratulated Angels in Adoption® honorees for opening their hearts and homes to children in need of a loving family.


Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chair, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar was joined by CCAI’s Executive Director, Becky Weichhand, CCAI’s Advisory Council Member, Kelly Gage, CCAI’s Director of Policy, Christen Glickman, 2016 National Angels in Adoption® honorees, Rick Spielman and Rob Brzezinski of the Minnesota Vikings, and 2016 Gala Emcees, Bill Klein and Dr. Jennifer Arnold from TLC’s the Little Couple.


U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) met with Angels in Adoption® honorees during Hill Day.


2016 Angels in Adoption® Gala Red Carpet! Left to Right: Jack Gerard, Claudette Gerard, Rick Spielman, Rob Brzezinski, Bill Klein, Dr. Jen Arnold, Becky Weichhand.
2016 Angels in Adoption® Gala Emcees, Bill Klein and Dr, Jennifer Arnold of TLC’s The Little Couple spoke about the importance of family and how the adoption of their children, Zoey and Will, has played a huge role in their lives.
CCAI Executive Director, Becky Weichhand, spoke about CCAI’s mission of children in families. The Angels in Adoption® Program is an opportunity to share the story of the heroes who have helped children in U.S. foster care and orphans around the world realize their basic right to a family.
Demetrius Johnson, 2016 Foster Youth Internship Program® participant, waved to his soon-to-be adoptive parents in the crowd as he spoke about his experiences as an alumni of the U.S. foster care system and his plans for the future.
CCAI’s 2016 Gala Entertainers, 2005 National Angels in Adoption® Alum and GRAMMY Award winning band, Jars of Clay, spent time off stage with Angels in Adoption® honorees.
National Angels in Adoption® honoree and country music star, Jimmy Wayne, received his award via Verizon’s VGo from Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chair, U.S. Senator, Roy Blunt (R-MO).
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chair, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in “Vikings purple” stands with Rick Spielman and Rob Brzezinski, of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, as they accept the 2016 National Angels in Adoption® award.


We hope you enjoyed this photographic summary of CCAI’s 2016 Angels in Adoption® Program. We hope you’ll share this blog with others. Please be sure to follow CCAI on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and use the hashtag #adoptionangels!

To donate toward CCAI’s Angels in Adoption® Program and our mission of children in families, please visit


The Angels in Adoption® Program is a signature program of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.


Photo Essay: An Inside Look at CCAI’s 20/20 Vision Delegation to Haiti


CCAI’s 20/20 Vision Program is a public-private partnership delegation model designed to educate Members of Congress, build relationships, increase positive dialogue and improve adoption and child welfare policy and practice around the globe.

CCAI’s most recent 20/20 Vision delegation was a follow up to our  20/20 Vision Program delegation to Haiti in August of 2014. Our goal was to gather on-the-ground knowledge about the needs of children in Haiti who are living outside of the care of families, as well as the solutions offered through programs, systems, law and policy that support placement and care of these children in families. The delegation plans to brainstorm ways to strengthen U.S. foreign policy for vulnerable children and families upon returning to the United States. Take a look at some of the highlights!

Congressional Coalition on Adoption co-chair, U.S. Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ), warmly greets a sibling group who has been reunified with their parents after spending time in an orphanage at a site visit in Haiti.
The delegation met from Bethany Global and learned about one of the first foster care in Haiti.
The delegation met with Bethany Global and learned about their foster care program in Haiti.
Dr. Dana Johnson, a University of Minnesota Health neonatologist and founder of the University of Minnesota Health Adoption Medicine Clinic sharing his reflections on site visits to help the delegation understand the effects of children languishing in orphanages.
Representing the CCAI Board of Directors on the delegation was Susan Neely, CEO of the American Beverage Association.
Members of CCAI’s 20/20 Vision Delegation visiting with children who were recently reunified with their loving families. These children and families, with the support of their social workers at the Lumos Foundation, bravely shared their personal experiences with institutions to educate the delegates on paths into and out of orphanages.
CCAI Executive Director, Becky Weichhand, Restavek Freedom Executive Director Joan Conn and Assistant Secretary of State Michele Bond shared a moment at a site visit.
CCAI Executive Director, Becky Weichhand, Restavek Freedom Executive Director Joan Conn and Assistant Secretary of State Michele Bond shared a moment at a site visit.
The delegation is briefed by a staff member at an orphanage, who shares the stories of several children in the care of the institution.
A lone toy sits atop one child’s bunk bed in one of the institutions the delegation visited.
The 20/20 Vision delegates met with Arielle Jeanty Villedrouin, Director of the Institut du BienEtre Social et de Recherches (IBSER) – Haiti’s child protection and permanency authority, to learn about current opportunities and gaps in the continuum of family care options for children. Site visits throughout the trip provided insight into the full continuum of care for children in Haiti,  including reunification efforts, Haiti’s new foster care strategy and domestic and intercountry adoptions.
U.S. Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) and U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL) learning about the health condition of a child in need of a surgery at an orphanage in Port-au-Prince. (Photo shared with permission.) Dr. Johnson explained to the delegation how most institutions worldwide house a high percentage of children with medical needs.
The U.S. Embassy staff host a reception with the delegation and representatives of Haiti’s child welfare community. Pictured here, left to right: U.S. Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ); Assistant Secretary of State Michele Bond; Minister of Social Affairs, Jean Rene Antoine Nicolas; CCAI Executive Director, Becky Weichhand; Charge d’Affaires, Brian Shukan; U.S.Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and U.S. Embassy Consular General, Bob Hannan. The delegation was deeply impressed with the kindness and dedication of the U.S. Embassy staff throughout our visit.
A caregiver and a child recovering from surgery at a strategic orphanage visit.
The CCAI 20/20 Vision Delegation, reunited families, foster families, youth and the Lumos Foundation’s Haitian staff after a strategic sharing session with these resilient families. (Photo taken with permission and at the request of the families.)
The delegation met with UNICEF’s Country Director, Marc Vincent, to learn about UNICEF’s programs, priorities and investments in Haiti, including a foster care program. The group was also briefed by the U.S. Embassy and U.S.AID staff on U.S. foreign assistance and U.S.AID programming related to vulnerable children.
The delegation toured the Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM), a small group of law enforcement officers that works to protect children in conjunction with the Haitian Police Department and IBESR. The BPM tour included cases resolved through their casework and child protection database, in partnership with Restavek Freedom Foundation. The dedication of the BPM staff was profound, yet they face serious resource gaps as they work to protect Haiti’s most vulnerable children.
CCAI was honored to be joined by three dedicated public servants during the delegation. Left to right: U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Assistant Secretary of State Michele Bond and U.S. Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ).

To learn more or engage with CCAI in our international child welfare advocacy, please contact and sign up for our listserv.

Photo Credit: Keziah Jean Photography, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Guest Blog: Reflections on CCAI’s 20/20 Vision Congressional Delegation to Haiti



CCAI Guest Blogger: Jelani Freeman 

I traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) for its 20/20 Vision program – a public-private partnership which exists to increase positive dialogue and the exchange of information among private sector individuals, international and domestic government officials, and Members of Congress. I currently serve on the CCAI Advisory Council and participated in its Foster Youth Internship (FYI) Program in 2003. From its early beginning in 2001, CCAI has been a leader in raising awareness and bringing together like-minded partners to ensure that every child in the world knows the love and support of a family. And that is exactly what its 20/20 Vision Program accomplished in Haiti this summer.

While this was the first time I ever visited Haiti, for many years I had felt a kinship to the island-nation through the literature of one of my favorite authors, Edwidge Danticat. I began reading Danticat as a high school student when I met her at a book signing for her short story collection – Krik Krak. Through her award-winning works like Breath, Eyes and Memory, The Farming of Bones, and The Dew Breaker, Danticat transported me to the countryside and urban spaces of Haiti where I could almost smell and taste the griyo & pikliz, see the stunning mountainous terrain and feel the cooling Caribbean waters on a hot day. Danticat unflinchingly writes about Haiti’s complicated revolutionary history and often gives a voice to those Haitians for whom silence is no longer a feasible option. Danticat described her home as best she could, trying to prepare me for all the beauty I would see, but as masterful of a storyteller as she is, I was quite simply unprepared for a country that is beautiful beyond belief – although it isn’t supposed to be.

Photo Credit: Erica Baker.
Photo Credit: Erica Baker.

After the 2010 earthquake and years of social and political unrest, Haiti remains a resilient nation, fixated on a brighter future. I saw the best example of this in the country’s child welfare system reform. Through strong public-private partnerships, Haiti is showing its commitment to a prosperous future by protecting and ensuring the development of its most valuable resource – its children. I saw this in the work of the dedicated staff of IBESR – Haiti’s Institute of Social Welfare and Research, which among other reforms, is leading the way to ensure that fraud is eradicated from its international adoption program to make sure that only children legally eligible to be adopted are authorized for adoption and strengthen their capacity in the full continuum of care for children.

CCAI’s 20/20 Vision Delegation met with the leadership of IBESR, Haiti’s Institute of Social Welfare and Research. Photo Credit: Keziah Jean.

I witnessed how devoted the Haitian National Police’s Brigade for the Protection of Minors are to devising and implementing systems to stamp out child abuse, neglect and trafficking, in partnership with organizations like the Restavek Freedom Foundation.

The delegation toured an office of the Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM), a small group of law enforcement officers that works to protect children in collaboration with the Haitian National Police and IBESR. Photo Credit: Keziah Jean.

And while government agencies like these are working to lead the way in child welfare reform in Haiti, they are not alone, as I saw many private organizations that were not just treating the symptoms of a damaged child welfare system, but are aggressively seeking to identify the root causes and cure the problem. As we visited organizations like Papillon Enterprises and Peacycle, I learned that extreme poverty is what often tears families apart and places children in orphanages, because there is simply not enough money to care for the children. So private organizations have stepped to the forefront to provide job training and creation, in order for parents to have a sustainable income so that families can stay together or be reunified. Words cannot explain how heartwarming it was to hear from families that were once split up due to a lack of money, now back together because the parents accessed assistance and a stable income. The best place for children to thrive is in their families, and that is why its laudable that efforts are now beginning to remove barriers that keep children from their families in Haiti.

Members of CCAI’s 20/20 Vision Delegation heard from children who were recently reunified with their loving families. (Photography with permission from the family) Photo credit: Keziah Jean.

In circumstances where there is not a viable option to keep or return children to their families, Haitians are also now beginning to implement a foster care model. While our U.S. foster care system is not without its shortcomings, the science is clear that children cognitively develop faster and are without less severe health issues in family settings than children in congregate care – e.g., orphanages and group homes. While foster care in Haiti is still in its infancy, it is programs like CCAI’s 20/20 Vision Program and this congressional delegation to Haiti that are so critical, because through information sharing, technical assistance from experts in the field, and strategic partnerships, Haiti has the opportunity to create and implement an excellent child welfare system.

Jelani at the Delegation’s Welcome Reception with congressional staff, Assistant Secretary of State, Michele Bond and the Haitian child welfare community. Photo Credit: Keziah Jean.

Jelani Freeman serves on CCAI’s Advisory Council, is a dedicated alumni of CCAI’s Foster Youth Internship Program®, and Serves on the Board of the Barker Adoption Foundation.