Friday, July 24, 2020

Celebrating Barker’s 75th Year | Giving Back and Blazing a Path Forward

When D.C. couple Richard and Ruth Barker adopted two children in 1937 and 1940, it wouldn’t have been possible to predict the consequences. Their experience led them to find an adoption agency of their own in 1945, which would become the Barker Adoption Foundation. At the core of their mission was a belief that children deserve permanent homes, and the earlier the better.

That desire to contribute to improvements in adoption practices remained a key driver at Barker. From the onset, the agency advocated for placing children as soon after birth as possible, providing care for birth mothers, involving birth fathers, sharing background information with adoptive parents, and more.

Barker’s beginnings really paved the way for everything we continue to do today, 75 years later and counting. We offer lifelong services to all in the adoption constellation and advocate for ethical, respectful, and child-centered adoption practices. That mission led to several milestones as we’ve evolved from a traditional domestic infant-placing adoption agency into a highly regarded adoption center that offers a full range of adoption-related programs and community-based services.

Here is a glimpse at memorable moments in time for Barker and its families.



  • Richard and Ruth Barker obtain a license to begin matching children with loving, permanent families. Birth mothers live at their Bethesda home, and many of those adopting are friends and neighbors.



  • The first of Barker’s Annual Dinners is held. These events let adoptive parents and adoptees share their stories and experiences and help strengthen parent participation in the agency. It’s nation’s first parent-run adoption cooperative.



  • Barker launches an international adoption program following the airlift that year of Cambodian war orphans.



  • Barker acquires the American Adoption Agency, which primarily focused on international adoptions.


  • Barker’s participation in the China Waiting Children program for special-needs kids is approved by the Chinese government.



  • For the year, Barker provides unbiased counseling to 185 pregnant women to support them in making decisions about their own and their child’s future.
  • The Post-Adoption Services Program serves more than 1,200 people.



  • Barker’s Annual Adoption & Foster Care Conference draws a record crowd. The keynote is delivered by Sean Anders, adoptive parent and writer and producer of the movie Instant Family, inspired by his family’s adoption journey. The conference offers thirteen workshops that feature the voices, moving stories, and perspectives of adult adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents.
  • Barker submits comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services detailing our opposition to a regulatory change that would let adoption and foster care service providers that receive HHS funds exclude prospective foster or adoptive parents or children based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Barker places the 150th child through Project Wait No Longer-Older Child Adoption from Foster Care.



  • About 85 percent of Barker’s budget goes directly to programs and services for those in the adoption constellation. Barker has placed more than 7,500 children with loving families since inception and serves more than 2,000 people each year.


Support from members of the loyal Barker community will let us continue to place children in forever homes for the next 75 years and counting. We hope you’ll consider making a one-time or monthly gift in support of the life-changing work we do each day. Any amount is vital to that mission. 

We’re deeply grateful for your help in furthering our efforts. And most of all, we wish you and yours safety and health in the coming months.

Stay #BarkerStrong and Help Support us on the Next 75 Years Ahead!


Guest Writer: Steven Yoder
Barker Moments