Pillar Special Award – Executive Director of the Year
Founder and executive director
Adoption Network Cleveland
Adoption Network Cleveland has changed thousands of lives over the past 25 years under the leadership of Betsie Norris, who founded the agency in 1988. An adoptee herself, Norris had completed a successful search for her birth parents and recognized the unmet needs of adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents.
Once seen as a simple legal event, Norris helped transform the perception of adoption. She showed that it was a complex, lifelong and intergenerational journey with ongoing issues for all whose lives are touched by it.
Since Norris founded Adoption Network Cleveland, more than 800 children and youth have become part of permanent families through the Adopt Cuyahoga’s Kids Initiative. Another 1,850 adoptee/birth family searches have been assisted to completion, and some 60,000 contacts have been served through the Adoption Helpline.
The organization is also active in advocacy for those whose lives have been impacted by adoption. Adoption Network Cleveland has worked hard to support legislation to allow adoptees access to their original birth certificates in Ohio and supported a bill that requires a reasonable effort be made to place siblings together in foster care.
Driven both by her own experiences and a deep passion to help improve the lives of those touched by adoption in some way, Norris continues to lead Adoption Network Cleveland to help others. The success the organization has achieved is clearly evident when groups in other parts of the country reach out to Norris and her team for guidance, as the state of Michigan did in 2012 to replicate Adoption Network Cleveland’s Adoption Navigator program. ●