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Nia Vardalos, Dr. Ruth McRoy Win 2013 Adoption Excellence Awards


AdoptUSKids’ nominees Dr. Ruth G. McRoy and actress Nia Vardalos are among the winners of the Children’s Bureau 2013 Adoption Excellence Awards.

Dr. Ruth McRoy’s superior leadership and innovation exemplify excellence in the field of adoption. Her research and writing on this topic early in her career had an immediate impact on helping the State of Texas to craft statutes and policies and implement practices for open adoption in child welfare that balance the needs for knowledge and connections among the members of the adoption triad with their needs for confidentiality and privacy.

Learning from this seminal work, more than half of all States have statutes allowing agreements between birth and adoptive families regarding ongoing contact after adoption finalization.

Similarly, Dr. McRoy’s work on the importance of post-adoption services and on issues of race in foster care and adoption are regularly cited in footnotes and bibliographies of doctoral dissertations and professional journals.

From 2003 through 2007, Dr. McRoy served as the principal investigator for the Barriers and Success Factors studies as part of the AdoptUSKids project. Conducted at the request of Congress on behalf of HHS, these studies comprise the first in-depth longitudinal research into the personal and institutional factors that either result in (success factors) prospective adoptive parents navigating their way from first inquiry to adopting children from foster care or prevent (barriers) them from doing so. Combined, these studies include lengthy and multiple interviews with staff and more than 250 families representing nearly every state, with two resulting major 2007 publications: “Barriers and Success Factors in Adoptions from Foster Care: Perspectives of Families and Staff” (PDF - 2 MB) and a report to Congress by the same name.

In addition, from 2008 to the present, Dr. McRoy has been the lead evaluator for AdoptUSKids.

Nia Vardalos is an Academy Award nominated writer, actor, director and producer best known for her film My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), who has gone on to produce and star in many films and television shows.

Vardalos approached AdoptUSKids in late 2008, shortly after becoming an adoptive parent, Vardalos  offered to lend her voice to help raise awareness about the need for families for children in U.S. foster care. Subsequently, in her many blog posts, interviews and guest articles, she invariably directed readers and viewers to the AdoptUSKids website for information about how to become a foster or adoptive parent.

Shortly after being approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as an official celebrity spokesperson for AdoptUSKids, Vardalos was the featured guest on an AdoptUSKids Twitter Q&A. In November 2011, she served as celebrity spokesperson for the media tour that accompanied the launch of the national adoption recruitment campaign focusing on recruitment of families for pre-teens in foster care.

In the spring of 2013, Vardalos published her first book Instant Mom – an immediate critical success and New York Times bestseller already in its second printing. The book is a witty, honest and poignant road-to-parenting story about the circumstances that lead to the adoption of her then-three-year old daughter via American Foster Care. With her signature comedic flair and candor, Vardalos opens up about the heartaches and headaches, tears and laughter of parenthood, but also includes an Appendix of useful information on how to adopt from every country. She is donating the book proceeds to adoption groups worldwide.

In addition to her extensive writing, producing, and acting career, Vardalos continues to fundraise for the underprivileged, be a spokesperson for National Adoption Day and advocate for all children to have permanent, loving homes.

Other 2013 Adoption Excellence Award winners include Voice for Adoption, Adoptive Family Portrait Project; the State of Missouri and the Adoption Resource Centers of Jefferson City, MO; and Portland State University in Portland, OR.

Visit the Children’s Bureau for a full list of 2013 winners. and read more about the winners on the ACF Family Room Blog.

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