It is with a heavy heart that we announce Merryl Klein’s retirement after 24 years of extraordinary service to Spence-Chapin. Merryl began working for Spence-Chapin in August, 1989 as the Director of the Child Care department. In 1994, the organization was faced with a situation in which an infant was abandoned in its care, was diagnosed with AIDS. Unwilling to place this child in a foster home, which was the common practice at that time, Merryl was able to find the infant a home in Texas with a pediatric nurse who specialized in AIDS care. It was from this experience that Merryl, and then Executive Director Kathy Legg, developed a pilot program for finding homes for hard-to-place infants.
Merryl headed this program, aptly called A Special Adoption Program (ASAP), and remained an integral part of it throughout her tenure at Spence-Chapin. What began as a pilot program envisioned by Merryl, is now the foundation of Spence-Chapin’s mission in domestic adoption today.
Since 1995, Spence-Chapin’s domestic special needs program has placed more than 300 infants with loving families. These babies come from diverse backgrounds and have a variety of issues ranging from risk of developmental delays to serious medical conditions. In 2011, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand acknowledged our ASAP program's efforts by honoring it with a Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Angel in Adoption™ Award.
While we prize Merryl’s extraordinary achievements in the field of adoption, it is her heartfelt dedication to the children and their families that makes us admire her most. Throughout her time at Spence-Chapin, Merryl has provided thoughtful and personalized care and attention to each child and family she’s worked with. Moreover, she approaches her work with the utmost passion and commitment.
As the organization transitions to focusing on the children most in need of families - older children, their siblings and children with special needs - Merryl has been a strong supporter knowing well that, now more than ever, the ASAP program will garner an even higher awareness.
Merryl, and the work she’s done at Spence-Chapin, is an inspiration to her co-workers, many of whom consider her a mentor with an endless wealth of knowledge. We wish her the best of luck in all of her future endeavors; we have no doubt she’ll make a positive difference wherever she goes.