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Guest Post: The Barker Foundation

November is National Adoption Month! Today we’re excited to have a guest post from The Barker Foundation, whose mission is to serve all members of the adoption circle – birth parents, adoptive parents, adopted persons, and anyone whose life is touched by adoption. A licensed adoption agency serving DC, Maryland and Virginia, The Barker Foundation supports teens and women as they consider an adoption plan, places infants and children with carefully selected, local adoptive families, and provides lifelong support and education to all adopted persons.

Reflections by Beverly Clarke

Director, Project Wait No Longer

I have 9 year old twins who are full of questions, and we are always discussing new words and looking up definitions on-line. Recently, we were looking up the definition for the word “inspiration.” There were many definitions, but the ones that I felt most drawn to were “divine influence exerted directly on the mind and soul of humankind” or “to spur on, impel, energize or motivate.” My kids began making up sentences based on this new found understanding of the word and all the things that are “inspirational” in the life of a 9 year old. My favorites were “I am inspired to eat my broccoli so that I can have a brownie,” or “I am inspired to read three books so that I can watch an episode of Scooby-Doo.” Listening to them was entertaining but also got me thinking about what inspires me.

I realized that I am fortunate to feel inspired on a daily basis while working with Project Wait No Longer, Barker’s older child adoption program. I am inspired by the children and teenagers that still have the audacity to hope for a forever family even after surviving years of abuse and neglect at the hands of adults. I am amazed when I see them begin to break down their protective walls, change their behaviors, and develop trust for the members of their new families. I am inspired by the parents who come to our program, determined to provide loving and stable homes for older children who oftentimes don’t know how to be a part of a family – by the families that stick it out, even when the going gets unbearably tough.

This is what drives me to work harder every day to find placements for older children who are often languishing within the foster care system. The needs of the children weigh on my mind and soul, inspiring me and the amazing team in PWNL to be a part of the solution.

Recently, I had the pleasure of helping to facilitate the placement of a little guy (Bobby) who is 10 years old into the home of Sue and John. Bobby has been doing really well with his new family, but has come from a long history of being rejected by former caretakers, so making the leap to calling Sue and John “mom” and “dad” has been really hard. Last week my phone rang, and John was on the line. I was surprised to hear from him because Sue (the more emotional one of the pair) is usually the one who calls me. In a very excited voice, John said to me, “Bev, something pretty cool happened. Bobby was talking about me to one of his friends, and I overheard him call me “dad.” This is the first time he has ever done that! Isn’t that great?” Through the phone I could hear the pride, joy and excitement in John’s voice. After several months of patient and consistent love, his son has begun to claim him as “dad.” This is what we work for at Barker. These are the true moments of inspiration.

Beverly Clarke, LCSW-C, LICSW is the Director of Project Wait No Longer at the Barker Foundation. For more information on our work, visit us at:


7 Questions with Dr. Marilyn Regier, Executive Director and CEO of The Barker Foundation

Today we welcome Dr. Marilyn Regier, Executive Director and CEO of The Barker Foundation to 7 Questions! Dr. Regier heads The Barker Foundation, one of the leading and oldest comprehensive adoption organizations in the US.

1. What motivated you to begin working with this organization?
It was eleven years ago that I accepted the position of Executive Director/CEO, drawn by the agency’s compelling history, mission, and values. I was aware of its incredible longevity as one of the nation’s oldest adoption agencies (founded in 1945), and its reputation for strong ethical underpinnings. I also respected Barker’s commitment to post-adoption services, not found at many agencies. The idea that adoption is a lifelong process rather than a one-time event is a concept that had guided my practice, and I knew Barker shared that view.

2. What was your most interesting recent project/partnership?
Social workers are undeniably busy with direct practice issues, making it challenging to get involved in advocacy and political issues, but over the past several years, Barker staff led several advocacy efforts to modify outdated adoption laws and regulations. We successfully testified before the DC City Council to effect changes in old adoption regulations, and in January 2013, we worked with Maryland Delegate, Kathleen Dumais, and other adoption professionals to change an adoption statute which was effectively limiting our ability to meet emergency needs of women in crisis pregnancies. Within four months, we had testified before the House and the Senate, and our bill passed unanimously in both chambers. I would like to see the “helping professions” do more advocacy of this sort.

3. What other projects are you up to?
We just completed a Colombia Homeland Tour, which is a tremendous amount of work but life-changing for the participants. For most of the Colombian-born adoptees and their parents, these tours are the first time they have returned to their birth country since being adopted as infants. Barker is the only agency in the U.S. to organize and sponsor these tours, which are focused on both cultural exposure and adoption issues.

We are in the midst of our second endowment campaign. The Legacy I campaign was in 1998, and Legacy II: The Next Generation began in 2012. Adoption is a volatile field, both internationally and domestically, and an endowment fund is critical to secure the agency’s future.

4. Who inspires you in the philanthropy world? Do you have a hero?
Of course, I have my personal heroes in the larger philanthropic world, but I am also moved by the countless acts of giving by Barker’s children, teens, and young adults -budding philanthropists. We are seeing more college- age adoptees giving to Barker online. Our children are making Barker the recipient of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and Confirmation gifts; Scouting troops donate; young adoptees send us the monies raised from summer lemonade stands; our youth run marathons for Barker or earn their Tae Kwon Do black belt and designate Barker the beneficiary of celebration gifts. It is wonderful to see Barker’s adoptive parents model philanthropy and energize their children to care about critical issues.

5. What is the single greatest challenge that your organization faces (besides finances) and how are you dealing with this challenge?
In the adoption world, we are facing challenges from the Internet. While there are many terrific things made possible in adoption by the internet, we are sadly seeing consortiums of unlicensed for-profits operating in a “virtual world,” rather than licensed by States (as adoption agencies are). We often decry child-trafficking in other countries, but increasingly we see what amounts to baby-trafficking in America. Through the smart Phone and internet, vulnerable pregnant women and vulnerable prospective adoptive parents are being lured by .coms in a process that really “commodifies” children. In such a scenario, adoptive parents pay huge sums for the babies of pregnant women who have been flown, all-expenses paid, to spas, ranches, and vacation-like settings, where they receive little counseling. The average person has no idea this is happening in our country.

I am countering this with a combination of advocacy and education. I would love to see the problem tackled at the federal level and am working to mobilize a coalition to do just that.

6. What advice do you have for other people in your position??
Never rest on the accomplishments of the past. The world is changing rapidly, and the adoption world is no different. We can never rest on our laurels or bask in a “good year” at Barker. Not if we care about the needs of children.

7. What’s next?
In the short term, we are aggressively expanding our older youth adoption program, Project Wait No Longer, where we are responding to a national crisis by moving children from impermanent public sector foster care to the permanency of adoptive homes. In the slightly longer term, Barker plans to expand and diversify our post-adoption department’s repertoire of services, particularly in the area of attachment issues faced by children who are placed at an older age than the typical “Barker baby.”