Senator Collins Honors Us with Angel in Adoption Recognition


Last week, my wife Anna and I were honored to be in Washington, DC to accept an Angel in Adoption recognition from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.  From their website, CCAI explains that their Angels in Adoption™ program “provides Members of Congress the opportunity to honor an individual, family, or organization that has made an extraordinary contribution on behalf of children in need of homes.”

This year, our United States Senator Susan Collins nominated my wife and me to receive this Angel in Adoption recognition.  I was humbled to receive this honor and met so many wonderful families.  Here is a video of the ceremony with Senator Collins’ remarks.

Senator Collins presenting Angel pin

Many only know me through my work at The Maine Heritage Policy Center but my greater passion is being a father.  I feel particularly blessed to be adoptive parent.  Taken from the Angel in Adoption program, below is our story:

Almost four years ago, Tarren and Anna Bragdon adopted their first child, Wyatt, as an infant from South Korea.  They wanted their new son to know the joys and closeness of a large and loving family.  Soon after, they began the adoption process once again .  In April 2008 Tarren and Anna welcomed home their daughter Waverly, from Korea.  As the love in their home grew, so did their desire for a larger family.  Moved by the plight of children needing forever families across the globe, they began the process once again to adopt, this time from Ethiopia, the birthplace of their godson, who was also adopted.  This past March they submitted the necessary paperwork and two days later were referred twin boys born on February 2, 2010.  The twins had come to the Holt International care center at three days old weighing barely three pounds each.  Fed an ounce of watered-down formula every hour day and night—all the nutrition their little systems could take—the boys fought off bronchitis and other ailments for the first few months of their lives.  While waiting to bring the boys home, the Bragdons received notice that one of the twins had become very ill and needed critical medical care.  Jude suffered from bacterial meningitis, pneumonia, seizures, and a subdural empyema (an infection of the brain), conditions with a high mortality rate even in the US.  Tarren and Anna knew that one of them needed to be with Jude, and his brother Asher, who was still at the care center.  The next morning, Tarren traveled to Ethiopia to be with his sons.  He and Anna coordinated medical consults between Jude’s Ethiopian physicians and specialists here in the US.  Tarren stayed in Ethiopia for three weeks, spending nearly all of his time at the hospital with Jude or at the care center with Asher.  While Tarren was in Addis Ababa, their adoption agency worked with the Ethiopian government and the US Embassy so he and Anna could bring the boys home as soon as possible.  Anna joined Tarren in Ethiopia, and they patiently waited for Jude’s condition to improve enough so he could travel.  Once the twins were medically cleared to travel, they were issued visas within 24 hours.   On June 23, 2010, Tarren, Anna, Jude and Asher arrived home and, together with Wyatt and Waverly, completed their forever family.  Jude and Asher have received clean bills of health, thanks to their Ethiopian physicians and Holt International care givers, their family, and the grace of God.

While in Washington, D.C., Senator Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), chair of the Institute’s Advisory Committee and an adoptive parent, invited us to join her and two other families to meet with U.S. Ambassador to the African Union Michael Battle and discuss our experiences with adopting from the Dark Continent.  Interestingly, Ethiopia is now the top country from which American families adopt internationally, surpassing China in 2010.  It is wonderful to see  Senators Landrieu and Collins working to make international adoption a quicker and smoother process.  The need is so great: Africa alone has over 50 million orphans, with 132 million total orphans worldwide.

Here in Maine, our Department of Health and Human Services has dramatically increased the number of adoptions for kids in foster care from 85 in 1999 to more than 300 today.  In addition, the number of kids in foster care waiting to be adopted has dropped from almost 1,100 in 1999 to 470 today.  That’s great work on the part of DHHS!  To learn more about foster care adoption in Maine, click here or view a photo-listing of children needing forever families today here.

Under the “Maine is one big small town” category, earlier today, Kennebec County Probate Judge James Mitchell, husband of Democrat gubernatorial nominee Libby Mitchell, finalized the adoption of our twins.  Judge Mitchell has now finalized the adoption of all three of my sons.

Worldwide the number of children needing families  is so great.  Rather than being overwhelmed with the need, do something.  Adopt.

If you have any questions about adoption or our experiences, feel free to email me at