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Bill Pierce: A Champion of Adoption Fondly Remembered

by | Nov 21, 2014

 

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. November is Adoption Awareness Month and we are posting new (as in yesterday’s awesome story by Joleigh Little) and previously run, such as the following. It is a tribute to Bill Pierce written just after he died in early 2004. He was a giant in the field of adoption and a great pro-lifer and a dear friend.

“Bill Pierce founded the National Council for Adoption [NCFA]. Dr. Pierce always had a kind word and a smile for everyone. The adoption and right to life movements have lost a true and valuable friend.” — Jacki Ragan, NRLC state organization development director.

“The National Council for Adoption and the entire adoption cause stand on Bill Pierce’s shoulders. Long may his tireless, compassionate example inspire us all, for the sake of the millions of children around the world in need of loving, permanent families. We extend our most heartfelt condolences to Bill’s wife Paula and their family and their loved ones, and we share deeply in their grief.” — Robert Parker, chairman of the NCFA Board of Directors.

Bill Pierce

Bill Pierce

Bill Pierce was one of the very first people I got to know when I first arrived in Washington in 1981. I quickly learned that Bill was among the hardest working, most devoted pro-life gentlemen I would ever have the privilege of working with.

I had known that Bill was gravely ill but had not known until the day before he passed away that Bill was near death. I quickly arranged to see my old and dear friend. To my everlasting regret, I arrived at the hospice a few hours late.

Washington is home to many types of people, not all of whom are praiseworthy. But Bill personified the very best qualities. As a passionate adoption advocate, he was intelligent, shrewd, generous in spirit, relentless, hardworking, a friend to the lowly as well as the movers and shakers, a devout Catholic, and one of the most remarkable “networkers” I’ve ever known.

It seems as if everyone knew Bill. For someone who fought tirelessly in the public policy arena, he was remarkably free of enemies. Bill was too much the gentleman, too sincere in his unwavering determination to find homes for children to spur anything but admiration.

Among his greatest accomplishments was helping to transform the way we look at adoption, to help people see how loving an option adoption truly is. Through his public testimony, behind the scenes support for legislation, painstakingly thorough research, personal kindness, and indefatigable intellect, Bill helped to show us that the lives of children, birthparents, and families are genuinely improved by adoption.

I knew Bill had been very successful, but I did not understand the breadth and depth of his policy accomplishments on behalf of children until I read the list compiled by NCFA. They are simply stunning. NCFA President and CEO Thomas Atwood did not exaggerate in the slightest when he said, “Many of these pro-child policies would simply not have been achieved without Bill’s passionate and pioneering leadership.”

For example, we learn that Bill led the charge when he conceived and then helped get passed the Infant Adoption Awareness Act, part of the Children’s Health Act of 2000. According to NCFA, the act “created the Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program, which trains health and pregnancy counselors in presenting adoption as a positive option for unplanned pregnancy.”

Bill also played a pivotal role in improving and facilitating international adoptions. In addition, the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994, of which Bill was a proud parent, reduced “obstacles to trans-racial adoption.” We learn that he worked constantly to “promote adoptions out of foster care by removing barriers to adoption and by creating incentives for states to place more foster children with adoptive families. Many tens of thousands of children today have loving, permanent families, because of these policies.”

Whenever I had a question about adoption, I would instinctively turn to Bill, whose treasury of knowledge about adoption and foster care rivaled in scope Fort Knox’s supply of gold bullion. He was unfailingly polite, even with someone like me, who loved to tease him. When I was at my most adolescent, Bill would calmly say, “Now, Brother Dave.”

Bill was a relatively young man, only 68, when he passed away. I had talked with him a fair amount this past year, but not nearly as often as I should. This is yet another reminder of something we all know and often forget: never leave words unsaid to those we love and respect.

As I drove to the hospice, not knowing that Bill had passed away a few hours before, I searched for sources of strength and wisdom to hopefully equip me to console the family in some small way. By the time I arrived, they had departed, but a song from the CD I had played driving up proved to be a gift sent straight from God.

The CD is titled, “Worship Again.” It is a live recording of a praise-and-worship service led by Michael W. Smith.

One of Michael’s songs recorded on this CD is called “Ancient Words.” In the next 28 hours I would play it probably 30 times. The words spoke to me at a time of grief. More important, they speak about Bill, whose faith sustained and built him up.

“Holy words long preserved

for our walk in this world,

They resound with God’s own heart

Oh, let the Ancient words impart.

Words of Life, words of Hope Give us strength, help us cope

In this world, where e’er we roam Ancient words will guide us Home.

Ancient words ever true Changing me, and changing you.

We have come with open hearts Oh let the ancient words impart.”

God bless you, Bill. Thank you for all you’ve done for children, born and unborn.

Categories: Adoption