Three Exceptional Families from Lutheran Social Services Among Those Honored with 2023 Governor’s Outstanding Adoptive Parent Award
Madison, Wis., November 29, 2023 – In a heartwarming ceremony held in the Wisconsin State Assembly Chamber at the State Capitol Building, six remarkable families were presented with the prestigious 2023 Governor’s Outstanding Adoptive Parent Award. Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS) is proud to announce that three of the winners are families associated with their Public Adoption program. The event celebrated the unwavering commitment and compassion demonstrated by Dave Koltermann, Matthew & Adrienne Randall, and JoAnn and Fred Reissman in providing loving homes for children in need.
Emilie Amundson, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF), highlighted the impact of adoptive families, stating, “Last year 766 children gained the warmth and fellowship of a permanent family through public adoption thanks to generous families who stepped up.” She also emphasized, “There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that no child ages out of the foster care system without a safe and loving family to call their own.”
DCF Deputy Secretary Jeff Pertl spoke about the significance of the day, stating, “Today we’re going to celebrate found and forever families,” and acknowledging the varied experiences that come with the journey of adoption.
Dave Koltermann, an unexpected hero in the world of fostering, was nominated by Wendy Davey of the Monroe County Department of Human Services. Despite the stereotypical image of a truck driver, Dave’s life took an unexpected turn when he took in four children, maintaining a stable and loving home even as a single parent.
Wendy Davey shared, “Dave’s life was turned upside down, but he wouldn’t change a thing. Dave has said, ‘I didn’t choose this life, it chose me. THEY chose me,’ and indeed they did.” Dave’s dedication to maintaining family connections and providing a stable home for the children, including adapting to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, is a testament to his extraordinary commitment.
Fred and JoAnn Reissman, nominated by Dawn Lonsdorf of LSS, exemplify dedication and compassion in fostering. Over four years, they fostered two girls, maintaining a positive relationship with the girls’ mother. In 2023, the Reissmans adopted four siblings, three of whom have been diagnosed with autism. Their commitment to providing a loving and supportive home, connecting with birth families, and supporting a large sibling group with significant challenges showcases their exceptional parenting.
Lonsdorf expressed, “Fred and JoAnn are patient, kind, and committed parents that have gone above and beyond to support reunification, to maintain family connections, and to support a large sibling group with significant behavioral and medical challenges.”
Adrienne and Matthew Randall’s journey to adoption started with the placement of a relative child in October 2021. Nominated by Megan Engevold of LSS, the Randalls embraced the challenges of parenthood, navigating the transition seamlessly. Their trauma-informed parenting approach and efforts to maintain sibling relationships left a lasting impression.
Engevold highlighted their exceptional dedication, stating, “Adrienne and Matt are an outstanding representation of the importance of not only foster care but the Family First Initiative!”
These three families, celebrated for their selflessness, compassion, and commitment to building strong families, embody the spirit of the Governor’s Outstanding Adoptive Parent Award. Their stories inspire others to consider the profound impact they can make in the lives of children in need of a loving home.