Meet Our Professional Team

Friends in Adoption (FIA), a not-for-profit adoption agency, is a network of dedicated, experienced, compassionate and friendly adoption professionals. Our focus is compassionate adoption. Although our administrative office is located in Vermont, we are able to provide free and confidential adoption services for pregnant women/couples anywhere in the United States. Our team members are deeply passionate about adoption, and many have experienced the miracle of adoption in their own lives. We all feel a personal connection with every adoption process. We cry and rejoice with every story. We have made a life commitment to adoption. We are Friends in Adoption.

Friends in Adoption promotes equal opportunity for all employees and applicants and does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, ancestry, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, age, disability, citizenship, military service obligation, veteran status or any other basis protected by federal, state or local laws. Our policies and personnel practices are intended to ensure that all are treated equally with regard to recruiting, hiring, and advancement, and decisions on employment are made to further the principle of equal employment opportunities for employees.

The Best of Professionals

Dawn

Smith Pliner

Founder and Director

Wells, Rutland, VT

Dawn’s Bio: During the 1970’s, shortly after they were married, Dawn Smith Pliner and her husband 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, 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 would come to Vermont.”

Joel and Dawn were present at Aura’s birth in Bennington. It was a wonderful experience and “Aura can find 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, that changed its focus to “compassionate adoption” in which everyone’s needs are met.

Therefore, Friends in Adoption was “officially” created in 1982 by Dawn Smith Pliner.

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Tara

Saltis

Director of Finance and Agency Operations

Whitehall, Washington, NY

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Diana

Fletcher

Supervisor of Case Management and Outreach

Poultney, Rutland, VT

When you call our 800#, Diana is likely the friendly voice on the other end of the phone. Working out of the Vermont Office, Diana is the supervisor of case management and outreach, and works closely with women and couples who call FIA inquiring about adoption. Calm, kind, and conscientious, Diana is a key member of the FIA team!

The following are letters to Diana from women with whom she has worked that offer testimony to Diana’s professionalism and care:

Hi Diana, It’s been a while since we last spoke….I have tried several times to write to you but could never finish it, so here goes again… After looking through the packet you sent me and talking to the father of the baby, there has been some changes. Since we last spoke, I have had a miscarriage. Like I said previously, I have tried several times to send you an email but could never bring myself to finish it. I guess all things work out for a reason whatever that happens to be. I do truly and whole-heartedly thank you for being there for me. To know that someone is out there that truly cares and is not judgmental and is willing to help… that really helped me. I think you guys to a wonderful work for people. Not only for the ones that end up pregnant but for the families that truly want a child of their own. I greatly appreciate all our talks. I always felt better after talking to you. If I hear of anyone else that needs your services, I will definitely put them in contact with you. You seem to really care and the families you are trying to help sound like they would make great parents!!! Thank you again for everything and most of all for being there for me when I needed a friend. I will always remember you… May God always bless you and your coworkers

— Sincerely, Emily

Dear Diana, Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you have done for me. Words cannot express how grateful I am for all of your help along the way. When my counselor from Planned Parenthood found you after calling several other agencies who could not help me, it made me realize that there are people out there that truly care and want to help. I was so happy and surprised when I received your packet of information and realized that I could choose the adoptive family! There were so many wonderful families to choose from, but I know I made exactly the right choice with Jeff and Marie. They are the perfect parents for my daughter, and they treat me like part of their family and with such respect. We are in contact through email several times a year, and we plan on getting together at least once every year. I had never heard about open adoption before talking with you. I know that some women choose closed adoption and I respect their choices too, but this is so right for me. Again, thank you for all you have done and I know that Friends in Adoption is always there for me.

— Audry, a birth mother

Hi Diana, Sorry I haven’t been responding. But, thanks for being patient with me and understanding my situation. After much through and consideration, I have decided to keep the baby. I know it will be a struggle, but I have my family’s support. Thank you for every single thing you have done for me. If it wasn’t for you, this child would not be getting the prenatal care he so rightly deserves. Again, I thank you and praise you for working so diligently with me. I will keep your information in case there are any changes in the near future. But for now, I am proceeding with the pregnancy.

— Sincerely, Alyssa

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Kate

Kaufman Burns, MSW, LCSW

Social Work Supervisor

Loudonville, Albany, NY

Kate is an experienced licensed social worker who is an expert in a variety of adoption issues, including transracial and visible adoption. In addition to providing home study services for pre-adoptive families, she supervises all social workers who provide FIA home studies.

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Brandi

LaDuc

Senior Case Manager and Community Outreach Provider

Fair Haven, Rutland, VT

New York Capital Region and New England

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Patty

Smith

Case Manager and Community Outreach Provider

Glenville, Schenectady, NY

Patty has been with FIA for more than seven years. She manages cases, provides in-service training workshops and community outreach and education.


“Deciding to place my baby for adoption was nerve racking and difficult. Obviously I came to the conclusion on my own that I was making the right decision, but I don’t know how I would have made it through without Patty Smith. She was there for me right from the beginning, and literally all the way through delivery!! I don’t know if I’ve ever known someone who was as perfectly suited for her job as Patty is for hers. She is one of the kindest and most compassionate women I have ever met, and I am so happy to have her in my life.”
– Kim, birth mother


Patty with adoptive family and birth mother
From left: Patty, Kim, Chris, Baby Ryan and Keith

“When we embarked on the adoption process for the first time, Patty provided incredible support at every step. Her genuine warmth, humor, and kindness throughout really smoothed the process. She also created a great platform for us and our son’s birth mother to build a strong and enduring relationship with one another. When we adopted our second son Jake two years later, it was a huge relief to have Patty working with us again. She’ll forever feel like family to us and we’ll always be grateful for all of her hard work.”
– Chris, Keith, Ryan & Jake, adoptive family


“There couldn’t possibly have been a better fit for us than Patty as our case manager! It was easy to forget that she actually worked with anyone else besides us! We’ve always told our daughter, Cecelia, that Patty was her first friend. She has come to know and love Patty as we do. Cecelia said, “I like Patty because she likes me…I look forward to seeing her.” Although we see her only twice each year, she is with us daily, in our hearts. We are so grateful for the care and consideration she so readily gave us.”
– Gary and Carrie, adoptive parents

Patty Smith with Cecelia
Patty with Cecelia at a recent Friends in Adoption Annual Picnic

“Patty has the kind of steady hand that is so important to a successful adoption. Having traveled the adoption journey herself, we think Patty brings the perfect blend of professionalism and personal touch to her work. We admire her and love her.”
– Nina Rumbold and Denise Seidelman, Adoption Attorneys


“Patty had frequent conversations with us … I remember the excitement and relief when we were told that we could select the family that our baby would become a part of. [After we had selected the family,] we called Patty with our decision and from then on Patty had ever “t” crossed and every “i” dotted! We feel such pride, honor, and gratitude in our lives for Patty Smith, who will forever be a special angel in our lives.”
— Lisa, a birth mother


Patty Smith is Friends in Adoption Case Manager and Community Outreach Provider. She also manages cases with expectant women/couples and adoptive parents, provides in-service training workshops and community outreach and education. Patty is universally adored, and she has been an integral member of the FIA team since 2007.

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Jean-Charles

DeOliveira Scappaticci

Graphic Design & Marketing

Ossining, Westchester, NY

Jean-Charles expertly guides FIA families through the process of developing prospective adoptive family profiles. He and his team work with FIA to develop and produce all print and online publications.

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Shannon

Barone

Case Manager and Community Outreach Provider

Poultney, VT

New York and New England

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Jona

Farwell

Case Manager and Community Outreach Provider

Poultney, VT

New York and New England

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Briana

Faele

Case Manager and Community Outreach Provider

Poultney, VT

New York and New England

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Deirdre

Graham

Community Outreach and Development Manager

Poultney, Rutland, VT

New York Capital Region and New England

Deirdre’s role with the agency involves nurturing collaborative relationships with healthcare professionals and social service providers. She travels around the Northeast visiting different hospitals, OB/GYN offices, Planned Parenthood centers, pregnancy resource centers, healthcare offices and community centers. She meets with various social workers, case managers, nurse managers, office managers and providers and shares information about Friends in Adoption (FIA). In these meetings they discuss the compassionate services FIA has to offer those considering making an adoption plan for their child(ren), as well as FIA’s mission and philosophy. Something emphasized in these visits is FIA’s commitment to empowering individuals in the community to make informed decisions.

The goal is to ensure professionals have a thorough understanding of Friends in Adoption and the service we have to offer, as well as that FIA is indeed an ethical, reliable agency here to empower the community. This way, individuals who need our services will be able to access them.

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Laurie

Coreno Reynolds, LMHC

Independent Counseling and Support Services

Clifton Park, Saratoga, NY

New York and Vermont: Laurie is a licensed mental health counselor in private practice in New York State who works with FIA to provide counseling to pregnant women and expectant couples. She is an expert in adoption issues and also provides adoption home study services to prospective adoptive families. Additionally, Laurie coordinates a birth mother support group.

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Jennifer

Goodbody Brenlla, LCSW

Independent Counseling and Support Services

Yonkers, NY

Westchester County, NY: Jennifer is a clinical social worker in private practice in Westchester County, NY who works with FIA to provide counseling to pregnant women and expectant couples. She is an expert in adoption issues and also provides adoption home study services to prospective adoptive families.

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Samantha

Walker, LMSW

Independent Counseling and Support Services

Bronx, New York, NY

New York City: Samantha is a clinical social worker in private practice in New York City who works with FIA to provide counseling to pregnant women and expectant couples. She is an expert in adoption issues and also provides adoption home study services to prospective adoptive families.

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Corky

Bohen, LICSW

Independent Counseling and Support Services

Woodstock, Windsor, VT

Vermont and New Hampshire: Corky is a clinical social worker in private practice in Vermont who works with FIA to provide counseling to pregnant women and expectant couples. She is an expert in adoption issues and also provides adoption home study services to prospective adoptive families.

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Bob

Bamman, LCSW

Social Worker

New York, NY

Social Worker

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

Johna

Harvey

Community Outreach Provider

New York, NY

Johna has been an ambitious volunteer with FIA for more than a year now. She provides outreach services to counties in downstate NY. She visits local hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices; anywhere she can to get Friends in Adoption’s name out there and to talk about the services that we provide to pregnant women/couples and adoptive parents. Johna provided a free workshop to a group of social workers in the NYC area; she was so well received that they called to let us know how “helpful and informative” she was and they “could not wait to share our information”. Johna provides these services for us with such great enthusiasm and dedication to FIA. We are lucky to have her on the team, along with her knowledge and love for what she is doing!

Meet the Friends in Adoption Team

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