Last month, our beloved colleague JoAnn White, Director of JFCS Family Hope, formerly known as Family Hope Connection or FHC, retired after 20 years with the agency.
JoAnn was hired in 1997 to create and lead the program. We at JFCS, and so many others in Pittsburgh, are deeply indebted to JoAnn and her staff for their compassionate and dedicated commitment to finding loving homes for children and ensuring families could grow and thrive together.
The need for JFCS Family Hope arose when Jewish families and children were being turned away from other religious-based adoption agencies. Over the years JFCS Family Hope evolved into a place where all were welcome and grew from the belief that everyone deserves love, support, and ultimately a family.
- When a single woman wanted to open her home to a child, JFCS Family Hope was there.
- When infertility ended a couple’s dream, JFCS Family Hope was there.
- When LGBTQ+ families sought a supportive environment to discuss how to build their families, JFCS Family Hope was there.
- When a birth mother was struggling with how she could provide the best life for her unborn child, JFCS Family Hope was there.
JoAnn and her staff have done incredible work, changed lives, and built families. Today, however, the world of adoption is much different than it looked 20 years ago, and the need for our adoption services has seriously declined in recent years.
It is with a heavy, but certain heart that I share with you our plans for phasing out our work as JFCS Family Hope. This decision comes after many explorations and difficult conversations with JFCS Family Hope director JoAnn White and her staff, senior JFCS leadership, community partners and stakeholders, and the JFCS board of directors.
JoAnn and her staff are committed to completing work with all current clients, no matter how long that takes. We would never consider leaving any clients in limbo or having to start their process over. Supportive and post-adoption services will still be available through the JFCS Counseling Services department, and referrals will be made whenever possible. We also plan to maintain an active role in the adoption and foster care communities by acting as a referral partner for other adoption agencies in the area.
On behalf of the JFCS staff and board of directors, I offer my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to JoAnn and her staff for their dedication, professionalism and their genuine love for their work, and for exemplifying the highest standards of service that our mission asks of us all at JFCS. We wish JoAnn and her staff exciting and fulfilling next chapters.