There were many important events in child welfare in June, but one that stands out above the rest. Tom and I traveled to Haiti to advocate for the children and engage the community working in children’s services. There were meetings between the U.S. and Russia to further an intercountry adoption agreement. The Dave Thomas Foundation honored Father’s and raised thousands of dollars to support families through its Treatforward Campaign. And we hosted a delegation of officials from India. But what stands out and is perhaps one of the the most difficult for us personally, for us as a community and certainly for the children of our world, was the passing of one of the world’s foremost adoption advocates, Paul Singer.
Paul and his wife, Terri, had five daughters, three of whom were adopted from Russia. Following their adoptions, Paul committed himself to raising public awareness of how adoption can provide a safe home and loving family to the millions of orphans in the world. In 2003, while employed by Target as CIO he founded the Target Adoption Network. He served as a member of the board of directors for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) and Joint Council. And was also the founder of Almitas and co-founder of Retail Orphan Initiative. To say he was an advocate is putting it lightly!
I first met Paul as a newbee staffer at a Joint Council member organization. At Joint Council’s 2007 Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, Paul was the keynote speaker. His speech was uplifting, inspiring and changed the course of my work for the children of the world. The following year, while still working at a Joint Council member organization, I attended Joint Council’s Conference in Washington D.C.. Three nights in a row Paul, I and a small group of advocates shutdown the bar talking about how we were going to change the world, how we were going to ensure more children live in families, and, of course, no conversation with Paul was void of one of his favorite topics, movies. Five months later I found myself employed by Joint Council and a guest at Paul’s table at the Annual Angels in Adoption Gala hosted by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. A month later we found out Paul had brain cancer. I would never s ee him again. 19-months later the world lost one of the strongest and most effective advocates for children and adoption, and for those of us who had the honor of meeting and knowing Paul personally, we lost a great friend.
But what we gained from Paul will not end with his passing. He made so many of us better at what we do and better at being human. And because of that, his work will live on.
To learn more about Paul Singer and his life, please feel free to watch this video created by his family and friends.
Director of Programs & Services, Joint Council