A Brief History of Friends in Adoption

Founder Dawn, her husband Joel, and children Isaac and Aura

Founder Dawn, her husband Joel, and children Isaac and Aura

Friends in Adoption (FIA) was “officially” created in 1982 by Dawn Smith-Pliner. During the 1970′s, shortly after they were married, Dawn Smith-Pliner and her husband Joel found out they couldn’t conceive a child and decided to adopt. But they were turned down by every agency they applied to. “We were told we weren’t married long enough, we were of different religions, or my husband’s hair was too long. We weren’t the average middle-American couple,” she said. But the more she got turned down, the more Dawn became determined. She heard of a pregnant woman in Florida who wanted to place her child, but interstate adoption was illegal at the time. “The only option,” Dawn said, “was an ‘open adoption’ under which the pregnant woman and her husband and daughter chose to come to Vermont.”

Joel and Dawn were present at Aura’s birth in Bennington. It was a wonderful experience and “Aura knows all the answers to questions about why Joel and I are her parents,” Dawn said. Twelve months later, Dawn’s parents told her of another woman who wanted to place her child. This was a “confidential” adoption through an attorney, in which they didn’t meet Isaac’s birth mother.

After the two experiences, Dawn realized there was a need for information regarding adoption. She and a friend started a non-profit information service to provide information on private adoptions. In 1982, a year and a half later, the partnership dissolved and Dawn formed Friends in Adoption, which changed its focus to “compassionate adoption” in which everyone’s needs are met.

FIA has been providing these compassionate adoption services for more than 30 years.