Betsie Norris

Executive Director

Betsie is an adoptee who searched for and was reunited with her birthparents in 1986, when she was in her mid-twenties.  Much to her surprise she found that her birthmother had married her birthfather not long after her birth and they subsequently raised three sons.  She was welcomed with open arms by her birthparents, siblings and the entire extended family.

Having made the journey to a successful reunion on her own, in 1988 Betsie founded Adoption Network Cleveland  to provide support and assistance to others who are touched by adoption.  The organization was at first a fully volunteer effort, and as it grew, she became the organization’s first executive director in 1995.  Since then Betsie has become a frequent spokesperson in the media and has assisted in over 1,700 adoptee-birthparent reunions.  With a wide array of programs and services, Adoption Network Cleveland serves as a successful national model for effective service and advocacy for members of the adoption community including adoptees, adoptive parent, birthparents, youth in foster care and related professionals.

Click here for additional information about the history of Adoption Network Cleveland.

Betsie has worked tirelessly on legislation to reform Ohio's adoption laws since founding Adoption Network Cleveland and has been part of several work groups on the state level on the subject. As a result, adoptees, birthparents, adoptive parents and siblings have greater access to information about one another in Ohio than they otherwise would.

Betsie is co-author with Jayne Schooler of Journeys After Adoption: Understanding the Lifelong Process (Bergin & Garvey, 2002). She served as a board member of the national American Adoption Congress from 1997-1999.  Trained as an RN with a specialty in child psychiatry, Betsie earned a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Case Western Reserve University in 1996.  Her recent awards include: 
  • 2013 Pillar Award for Community Service "Executive Director of the Year" from Medical Mutual and Smart Business Magazine
  • Leading Lady Staffing Solutions Enterprises in 2012
  • Champion Award from the National Center for Adoption Law & Policy in 2012
  • Leadership Cleveland Class of 2012
  • Adoption Excellence Award for increased adoptions for older children by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2011.
  • Shaker Heights High School Hall of Fame, inducted 2010 
  • Foster Care Hero Award from the Rona R. Carter Scholarship Fund in 2009
  • Woman of Note from Crains Cleveland Business in 2005
  • Angels in Adoption Award from the United States Congress in 2005
  • Hearts of Hope Award from Beech Brook in 2005
  • Emma Mae Vilardi Humanitarian Award from the American Adoption Congress  2004
thunder::tech :: a marketing agency