|Rep. Hickman with his parents and sister on the church steps of Siloah Evangelical Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2001.|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Allison Coble, Senior Director of Programs
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute
Senator Angus King Honors Maine State Representative Craig Hickman as an Angel in Adoption™ To Be Recognized at National Event in Washington, D.C.
AUGUSTA, MAINE – October 2, 2015 – Senator Angus King has selected Representative Craig Hickman as a 2015 Angels in Adoption™ awardee for his outstanding advocacy of adoption issues. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which orchestrates the Angels in Adoption™ Program, will honor Rep. Hickman at an awards ceremony on October 6 and gala on October 7 in Washington, D.C.
“I never would have imagined that twenty years of working on adoption issues would culminate with this great honor,” said Hickman. “I cannot thank Senator King enough. I will continue to fight for the rights of adopted children in Maine and across this great nation.”
Earlier this year, Hickman, an adoptee with a long-standing commitment to improving the lives of both adult and minor adoptees, introduced legislation in Maine that would prohibit the unauthorized “rehoming” of adopted children. Inspired by his father, a World War II veteran, and his wise mother, both deceased, Hickman has spent most of his life serving his community and feeding people. His award-winning 2005 memoir, Fumbling Toward Divinity, chronicles his search and reunion with his biological family. When presenting his bill, Hickman asked his colleagues to “imagine being shipped across oceans to a new culture with a new language to become part of a new family, only to have that family decide that they don’t want you. And since it is not against the law, that family advertises you… and within days you are dropped off to another stranger.” Hickman’s bill, which passed the Legislature unanimously, will go into effect this fall, making rehoming a crime in Maine subject to the current penalties for abandonment. Maine will be the sixth state, and the first in New England, to criminalize this damaging practice.
Rehoming is not the first adoption issue that Hickman has brought to the attention of the Maine Legislature. He first testified, as a member of the public, before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee in 2005, speaking in favor of a bill that would allow adult adoptees access to their original sealed birth certificates. He was successful in this effort as well, and adult adoptees born in Maine were granted access to their original birth certificates in 2009.
Both in his work as a two-term legislator and as a private citizen prior to his election, Hickman has drawn on his personal experience as an adopted person to advocate for important changes to state law. His success in these efforts is a testament to his dedication to these issues and for these reasons, King recommended Hickman as an Angel in Adoption™ for 2015.
Hickman is also an organic farmer, chef, actor and poet. As House chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, he has championed food sovereignty, food security, self-sufficiency and other efforts to protect Maine’s small family farms and promote rural economic development.
Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Hickman moved to New England to attend Harvard University, where he graduated in 1990 with a degree in government. He and his spouse, Jop Blom, who lived in the Boston area for 16 years, have owned and operated Annabessacook Farm in Winthrop since 2002, raising organic produce, dairy, and livestock, and hosting overnight guests and a fresh food bank for anyone in need. For more information, visit http://hickmaninthehouse.blogspot.com.
The Angels in Adoption™ Program is CCAI’s signature public awareness campaign and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad. This year, more than 150 “Angels” are being honored through the Angels in Adoption™ program.
“The Angels in Adoption™ Program is a unique annual opportunity in the nation’s Capital to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the power of adoption and the unspoken heroes who have made the dream of a family a reality for children. Since the program’s inception, over 2,200 Angels have come to Washington to share their firsthand adoption experiences with Members of Congress, highlighting its joys, as well as the barriers encountered in the process,” said Becky Weichhand, Executive Director at CCAI. “Members of Congress are then able to use their new experiential understanding of these issues to create policy improvements that better support these children and the families that open their hearts and homes to them.”
In addition to the more than 150 Angels from around the country, National Angels in Adoption™ honorees will be recognized at the gala for their dedication and commitment nationally and internationally to child welfare on a grand scale. This year’s National Angels in Adoption™ honoree is singer Rachel Crow. Former National Angels include Korie and Willie Robertson, Deborra-Lee Furness Jackman, First Lady Laura Bush, Patti LaBelle, Jane Seymour, Muhammad Ali, the late Dave Thomas, Steven Curtis Chapman, Bruce Willis, Alonzo Mourning, Rhea Perlman and Kristin Chenoweth.
CCAI is a 501(c)3 nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the tens of thousands of orphans and foster children in the United States and the millions of orphans around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes through adoption.
CCAI was created in 2001 by the active co-chairs of the bicameral, bipartisan Congressional Coalition on Adoption, one of Congress’ premiere caucuses. The goal of the caucus is to eliminate policy barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family and more effectively raise Congressional and public awareness about adoption.
The Angels in Adoption™ Program was established in 1999 as a Congressional press conference to honor outstanding individuals. Since then, the program has developed into a yearlong public awareness campaign, culminating in an extraordinary awards gala and celebration in Washington, D.C.
CCAI does not receive any government funding and relies on the generous support of foundations, corporations, and individuals to accomplish this mission. For more information, visit www.ccainstitute.org or www.angelsinadoption.org.