University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Harold D. Grotevant

Rudd Family Foundation Chair in Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Hal Grotevant is the founding director of the Rudd Adoption Research Program at UMass Amherst. The work of this position connects adoption research with policy and practice through conferences, workshops, graduate and postdoctoral training, and stimulation of research activities.  He also serves as the Chair of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at UMass Amherst. Dr. Grotevant received his Ph.D. from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota (1977) and served on the faculties of the University of Texas at Austin (1977 – 1989) and the University of Minnesota (1990 – 2008) before coming to UMass Amherst in 2008. His research focuses on relationships in adoptive families, and on identity development in adolescents and young adults. His work has resulted in over 140 articles and chapters as well as several books, including Openness in Adoption: Exploring Family Connections (with Ruth McRoy, Sage Publications, 1998). He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the National Council on Family Relations; Senior Research Fellow of the Donaldson Adoption Institute; former Board President of Adoptive Families of America; former Board member of the North American Council on Adoptable Children; and recipient of research, teaching, outreach, and educational leadership awards. He received the 2009 Outstanding Faculty for Outreach and Engagement Award from the College of Natural Sciences, UMass Amherst.  In 2012, he was honored as the Outstanding Scholar in Adoption by the Adoption Initiative of St. John’s University and Montclair State University. He directs the Minnesota / Texas Adoption Research Project, which examines outcomes for adopted children whose families vary in terms of contact with their birth relatives. This longitudinal study, begun with Dr. Ruth McRoy in the mid-1980s, has followed the children and their families into young adulthood.

Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

Jen Dolan

Rudd Adoption Research Program, Program Manager

Jen is responsible for oversight of the Rudd Program community partnerships and the annual conference; in addition, she works with Dr. Grotevant to provide leadership for all aspects of the Rudd Program.  For the Adoption Mentoring Partnership, she coordinates all programmatic activities and has a strong role in conducting the research. During 2014, she interviewed the adoptive parents of the mentees; see the earlier section on AMP in this report for findings. Using internet chat technology, Jen also conducts bi-annual interviews with current AMP mentors and a comparison group of UMass college students who are adopted but not involved in AMP.   Questions center on the mentors’ experiences in the program, their sense of identity as an adopted person, and supports they had or might need. In addition, she has administered follow-up surveys to former mentors who have graduated and moved from the area. Questions centered on what the mentors are currently doing, how much contact they still have with their mentee and the role AMP had on their lives. Preliminary results suggest that most of the former mentors have maintained a relationship with their mentee even though they are no longer part of the program. Most all of them stated they wished they could have had a mentor when they were younger. 

Jen has also taken leadership on a research project focusing on the Treehouse Community, an intergenerational community in Easthampton, Massachusetts, committed to supporting families who are caring for children adopted from the public foster care system. Interviews she conducted with 21 elders, parents, youth and staff have been analyzed to identify strengths and challenges of the program. These data will guide program leaders as they identify the distinctive needs of different community members, issues to be considered in broader program replication, and strategies for attracting external funding.  An article entitled, "The Treehouse Community: An Innovative Intergenerational Model for Supporting Youth Who Have Experienced Foster Care” has been accepted for publication in Child Welfare, the flagship journal of the Child Welfare League of America. 

In addition, Jen continues to serve as a key member of the Re-Envisioning Foster Care in America (REFCA) Design Team, whose charge is to create a road map and implementation plan for innovative activities in western Massachusetts and beyond. Significant activities in 2014 included the annual REFCA conference about how to best support youth who are in foster care, and sponsorship of two visits from Bishop Martin of the Possum Trot community in east Texas, who spoke about his community’s experience in adopting over 70 children from the child welfare system. 

Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

Lisa Fiorenzo

Rudd Adoption Research Program, Data Manager / Analyst

Lisa joined the Rudd Adoption Research Program in August 2014 as its Data Manager / Analyst  and has since contributed her expertise in data organization and analysis to a number of ongoing projects.  Working with Dr. Grotevant, she conducted the quantitative analysis of online survey data collected by the Rudd Program on the timing and cost of adoption in Massachusetts.  These findings helped inform the recommendations made by members of Governor Deval Patrick’s task force on the timing and cost of adoption in the Commonwealth, of which Dr. Grotevant is a member.

She has also helped to plan, organize, and analyze data from other ongoing projects, such as the Adoption Mentoring Partnership (AMP) and the Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project (MTARP).  Currently, Lisa is organizing the latest wave of MTARP data for future use by Rudd Program members. In addition to her duties as Rudd Program Data Manager, Lisa is also a Methodology Consultant with the Center for Research on Families at UMass Amherst.

Dr. Hal Grotevant

Dr. Grotevant 

Carla Williamson-Britt

Events Coordinator

Carla is the events coordinator for the New Worlds of Adoption Conference, holding a position shared with the Center for Research on Families. She oversees all aspects of the conference, including planning, marketing, and graphic design. She also contributes to the Rudd program social media presence and annual report. Carla came to us from Australia, where she studied graphic design and marketing. A natural planner and ultimate list maker, Carla balances her love of all things design with events. Her practical thinking and logistical and management skills are critical to the planning and execution of our annual conference.