A visionary is a leader of excellence who sees what others do not see, who achieves for now and plans for the future, who positively impacts different generations and raises up other visionaries.
This month we are honored to highlight Nightlight Christian Adoptions (Nightlight) founder and leader, Ron Stoddart. Mr. Stoddart has been instrumental in the development and expansion of Nightlight’s adoption services for over thirty years. Having initially established a successful domestic adoption law practice during his career, it was in the 1980’s and 1990’s when there became a marked decline in the number of birthparents choosing to make an adoption plan. This was in part due to the number of women choosing abortion as an option to an unplanned pregnancy, as well as a societal decrease in the stigma attached to single parenting. During this shift, it was Mr. Stoddart who had a vision and initiative to expand adoption services on a global front to include international adoptions. So, in 1992 he began facilitating adoptions from the former Soviet Union. During this period Mr. Stoddart traveled to Russia several times a year visiting orphanages and children in need. As a result of his efforts and passion over 1000 children in need of forever families were placed in US adoptive homes during the 1990’s. In 1994, he merged his law practice and international foundation with our organization and became the Executive Director of CAFS (Christian Adoption and Family Services), whose name later changed to Nightlight Christian Adoptions.
In his efforts to continue the expansion of international adoptions, Mr. Stoddart created a separate non-profit in 2009 that was established to organize and fund orphan host tours. Initially serving children in Russia, the hosting program was later extended to other countries. The first hosting tour was in 1995 and orphan hosting programs have continued into the present day with other US based adoption agencies and developing countries participating in a hosting program. The success of the hosting program further extended into finding permanency for many children who were later adopted by their host family.
In 1997, Mr. Stoddart pondered the question “What do people do with their remaining embryos from IVF? Is it possible that couples would donate them for adoption?” He was intent on extending adoption best practice to embryo adoptions to include ongoing openness, a home study evaluation, and social work matching to ensure the best interests of the child were being served. In 1998 Nightlight became the country’s first licensed adoption agency to offer embryo adoptions. In 2007 the embryo adoption program was branded Snowflakes® and today is one of Nightlight’s most vital and popular programs offering childless couples another option to grow their families.
During his tenure as the Executive Director of Nightlight, Mr. Stoddart led the merger of several other non-profit adoption agencies with Nightlight. These mergers allowed Nightlight to further expand services in additional states, as well as the ability to offer additional intercountry programs to clients.
In 2012 there continued to be a noted decline in international adoptions. This same year Russia closed their international adoption program, forcing Nightlight to again plan for a future of diverse services. Mr. Stoddart retired as the Executive Director of Nightlight in 2013 and joined Nightlight’s Board of Directors. It was during this time the Board decided to build a foster care services program and in 2013 Nightlight’s Colorado office opened its foster care program. Today Nightlight has foster care programs in Colorado, California, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Georgia and South Carolina with other Nightlight offices following suit in planning and applying with local public child welfare agencies to offer foster care services in their communities.
Today, Mr. Stoddart continues to serve on Nightlight’s Board of Directors. Over his career he has received many accolades for his continuous work in serving vulnerable children. He has participated as a guest speaker on broadcasts of “Focus on the Family” and “For Faith and Family” and has served as a spokesman for numerous radio, television, newspapers and magazines for his pioneering work in exploring the ethics of embryo adoption and embryonic stem cell research. He has developed and presented seminars on “Father – Daughter Relationships” and wrote and published the booklet “Tough Love in Action” as an aid in adoptions.
In acknowledgement of a lifetime of work dedicated to serving families and children around the world, Nightlight salutes the tireless efforts of Mr. Ron Stoddart and his visionary leadership that has led our agency to where we are today.