The Families of Adoption Network started as a picnic and has turned into an outreach to bring together the families touched by adoption in Arlington.

Czarniecki family

Inspired by the adoption process

Jesse and Becca Czarniecki adopted Simon, now almost 5, in February 2011 from Catholic Charities’ Pregnancy and Adoption Services (PAS). They had spent the previous year going through the adoption process and waiting to be chosen by a birth family.

“It was a whirlwind, but it was incredible,” Becca said. “The staff at PAS was so kind and compassionate—and encouraging to us as we waited.”

Becca, who owns a small business offering tea parties and etiquette classes, noticed that PAS needed an event to bring families together who had been touched by adoption.

“You would hear of all of these other couples that were going through the same thing we were going through—the anticipation and the waiting,” Becca said. “And then you would hear about these miracle stories, of adoptive parents that had received children, but you couldn’t put a face to the name.”

From there, an annual picnic was born.

Sharing the love

The first event was held in McLean in November 2012 with about 35 people. They had a potluck lunch, moon bounce, pony rides, and games for the kids. The picnic doubled in size in August 2013 and included a pool party, raffle prizes, and games for the kids at a home in Alexandria.

Kim Harrell, PAS program director, emphasized how important it was for all of the stakeholders to be involved in these events.

“Families who have been touched by adoption, including those who are waiting to adopt, really like being together,” Harrell said.

Other events for waiting families

PAS is also hosting quarterly training and support events specifically for waiting families. The state of Virginia requires that waiting families attend a yearly training session, and Harrell saw this as an opportunity to offer support to these families. Traditionally they have three speakers—an adoptive parent, a birth parent and an adult adoptee—along with a seminar and a chance for discussion.

All of these events are a part of a formalized Families of Adoption Network (FAN) which started as an effort to support all families through every step of their adoption journey.

“Gathering with other adoptive families, you know there is a story behind each child and you know how badly they wanted each child,” Becca said. “It’s a great way to stop and savor the moment.”

Get involved!

The next picnic is coming up on September 20, 2015. We’d love to have you join us!

Friends of Adoption Network

If you have been touched by adoption and would like more information on the Families of Adoption Network, please contact Kim Harrell at or 703-425-0100.

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