Dawn Smith-Pliner, Founder and Director of Friends in Adoption


Smith Pliner

Founder and Director Emeritus

Wells, Rutland County, 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.
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