The 2018 class of recipients of annual adoption excellence awards were announced today at an HHS ceremony for National Adoption Month.

The awards, given each year by the Children’s Bureau at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, recognize individuals, families and organizations who have demonstrated excellence in making contributions to providing permanency for children in foster care.

The awardees were announced and honored during an event today in the HHS Great Hall, featuring HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar II, HHS Deputy Secretary Eric D. Hargan, ACF Assistant Secretary Lynn A. Johnson and ACF’s Acting Commissioner for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families Jerry Milner.

“As we honor those receiving adoption excellence awards, we also thank and recognize the numerous child welfare professionals and families who work each day to find permanency for children and youth in foster care in their community,” said Lynn A. Johnson, HHS assistant secretary for children and families. “We recently published national foster care and adoption data showing children are achieving permanency through adoption. But there is still lots more work to be done. This administration is going to do everything possible to get forever homes for all children.”

“The adoption excellence awards honor leadership and innovations in promoting permanency and connections in the lives of children in foster care and those who are waiting for adoption,” said Jerry Milner, acting commissioner for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families and associate commissioner at the Children’s Bureau. “We are happy to honor these 12 awardees for their commitment and dedication to adoption.”

The awardees include families who have adopted children from foster care; child welfare professionals working to improve permanency outcomes for children; and individuals and organizations who use their resources and connections to strengthen outcomes for children and youth adopted from foster care.

The event today also highlighted new public service advertisements to encourage adoptions from the U.S. foster care system and raise public awareness about the need for families to adopt children in foster care.

This year’s National Adoption Month theme, “In Their Own Words: Lifting Up Youth Voices,” emphasizes the importance of incorporating the voice and input of young people to help child welfare professionals strengthen recruitment strategies; train families and staff; and support more effective permanency practices. The Children’s Bureau recently launched a National Adoption Month 2018 website to connect readers with adoption resources.

2018 Adoption Excellence Awards:

Family Contributions

Amber and Travis Thompson, Asheboro, N.C.

Mike and Jennifer Allred, Asheboro, N.C.

Peter and Ginger Smith, Raleigh, N.C.


Brenda Lawrence, Harrisburg, Penn.

Carol Bishop, Salinas, Calif.

Representative Les Gara, Anchorage, Alaska

Sean Anders, Hollywood, Calif.

Joshua Christian, Indianapolis, Ind.

Debbie Marker, Olympia, Wash.

Business Contributions/Initiatives

JAFCO (Jewish Adoption and Family Care Options), Sunrise, Fla.

Media/Social Media/Public Awareness of Adoption from Foster Care

Lacey Lett and KFOR, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Wake County Human Services Adoption Resource Team, Raleigh, N.C.

A complete profile of each awardee can be found at:


All ACF news releases, fact sheets and other materials are available on the ACF news page. Follow ACF on Twitter for more updates.

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