Cyndi Dolloff of Peru is surrounded by her grandchildren, Riley and Tobias, who she adopted when one was a newborn and the other was 2 months old. Dolloff is Maine’s 2022 Angels in Adoption honoree. She was nominated by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in September. Submitted photo

PERU — As the oldest of five children, Cyndi Dolloff always said she would never be a parent.

“I would just take them and love them and leave them and send them home,” she said. “But that’s not how it ended up happening.”

She adopted her grandchildren, Riley and Tobias, when one was a newborn and the other was 2 months old. Her daughter, whom she adopted as a child, was unable to raise them  due to personal problems.

Dolloff has been named Maine’s 2022 Angels in Adoption honoree.

She and 2020 honoree Heather Crooker of Newburg flew to Washington, D.C. in September to meet with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who nominated them for the honor.

“Cyndi and Heather opened their hearts and their homes to children in need of stable and loving environments,” Collins said in a news release. “Their selfless actions are an inspiration, and I was delighted to nominate them for this recognition.”


Crooker and her husband, Mike, were not able to attend the recognition ceremony in 2020 because of the pandemic, so Dolloff invited them to the ceremony.

The Crookers were also honored as “strong advocates for adoption in their community since adopting their youngest daughter, Sophie, in 2007,” the news release said.

Dolloff’s journey began a little more than 30 years ago, when she was working in a Head Start program. The center director noticed she was especially good with children and told her she should be a resource parent, also known as a foster parent.

“And I’m like, no-no-no-no; I really like playing with the kids and going home at night,” Dolloff said.

But after a few more conversations with the director and encouragement she took on respite care of children, mostly for a weekend or overnights. After a while she became more hesitant about letting those children go to other homes.

She went on to care for children for three to six months at a time, often to help families with the reunification process.


Dolloff cared for her daughter for three years when the girl’s mother asked her if she would adopt the child.

As a resource caregiver or adoptive parent, Dolloff said one of the most important things someone should do is to find support for themselves.

Years ago, when she began caring for her daughter, she received some emotional support and care from friends at church, at work and the community. She participated in a support group for adoptive families.

When she adopted her grandchildren, now 7 and 9 years old, she began attending Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine.

Dolloff also said taking part in group support such as Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine provides the realization that a child’s home environment is important but their “genetics is a very strong piece” of how they will thrive in life.

“The more you know about the family you may be able to make a more informed decision” about your child’s well-being, she said.

The kinship program at the Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine on Main Street in Wilton is in the SeniorsPlus building. Support groups for kinship families and other adoptive families will be held the third Thursday of each month, Dolloff said.

For more information on resources and support group listings, go to

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