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maryl04About Dr. Millard

Dr. Maryl Millard, Program Director of Adoption Advocates, is an educator, writer and consultant with extensive personal and professional experience in adoption and infertility. She has Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology, and has been a pioneer in the field of open adoption research and practice since the late 1970’s. Maryl is the birth mother of Kathleen, 40 and Amy, 28 and the adoptive mother of two daughters, Lara, 19 and Kate, 13. The two daughters she placed with adoptive families were placed through the previously traditional closed adoption system, Maryl had no contact with Kathleen or Amy while they were growing up. The two daughters she adopted (Lara at birth, Kate at 7 months) were both adopted through the more open adoption system that prevails today. Maryl’s experiences convinced her that adoption is a vitally important option for families to have. Since every adoption situation is unique, Maryl believes that birth parents and adoptive parents should be empowered to make an informed and educated decision regarding how confidential or open their adoption should be.

Dr. Millard was active in the adoption reform movement of the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s. She was one of a number of educators who encouraged adoption professionals and members of the adoption triad (birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees) to be more willing to explore and acknowledge the interactive nature of stressful psychological conflicts related to infertility, relinquishment and adoption. During this time, Dr. Millard led birth mother’s grief support groups and adoption triad support groups for those involved in adoption searches and reunions. She founded a private adoption service in adoption facilitation and mediation.

As part of her masters research, she facilitated the first documented open adoption in the United States. This adoption involved birth parents and adoptive parents who met prior to the adoption, made an agreement for post-adoption phone contact, letters and visits; and utilized counseling and mediation whenever necessary during the full life cycle of the adoption. Angela, the baby who was the focus of the adoption, is now a grown woman, and open adoption is now a model supported by adoption professionals worldwide, including a full endorsement from Child Welfare League of America, our nation’s largest professional organization of social workers.

In 1993, Dr. Millard’s doctoral research on pre-adoptive and adoptive parents was completed. Titled “Infertility Stress Syndrome: Trauma Exacerbated by Gender Differences,” it was the first study in the United States to identify and measure significant trauma-related infertility stress in pre-adoptive and adoptive parents. This work outlined how couples can measure and lower their infertility related stress to prevent problems in their relationship with each other, with their adopted children and with their adopted children’s birth families.

For 18 years, Maryl has been a volunteer for Resolve, a national infertility education and support organization. She has served as an adoption support group leader for hundreds of prospective adoptive parents, an infertility support group leader for couples moving through the decisions and challenges of infertility and a member of Resolve’s board of directors in chares of adoption services.

Dr. Millard’s entire career has been focused on helping people develop an understanding and compassion for the psychological experiences unique to infertility and adoption. Her current focus is to advance a higher level of community understanding regarding the challenges of infertility and adoption. Through her conference presentations and workshops, she speaks of the many benefits possible for all who are confronted with these challenges.

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