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Night Out With Meaning: Building a Family

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

Storyteller: Sue Badeau

Last night, I hosted Night Out With Meaning; a series of evenings for women to be inspired by the stories of women like Sue Badeau.

Surrounded by 35 women, Sue told her family’s story through pictures and metaphors. She shared her experiences of adoption, foster care, and the unlikely, but powerful decision to welcome 3 terminally ill children into her family. It was an emotional and inspirational evening. Night Out With Meaning is about learning, connecting and reflecting.

Sue gave each of us a shell and talked about its imperfections and beauty a wonderful metaphor for her 22 children as she told a story about each of them. I have been thinking about her family’s journey and their unexpected destination. I have been thinking about choices and fate. I have been thinking about permanence and what a lovely concept it is. I have taken that concept of a permanent family for granted. I have been thinking about unconditional love. One of the biggest takeaways for me hearing Sue’s story is that when she encountered something she didn’t think was right, she listened to her call to action. Thank you, Sue and thank you to Chelsea, Joelle, SueAnn, Florinda, and Renee. More information on the Badeau family can be found at

Consider this an early invitation to you and a friend for the next Night Out With Meaning held on May 12, 2011. The topic of interest is “Empowering Women”. I have lined up a truly interesting woman to talk about her journey which started with being the first single, American woman to adopt internationally. Marjorie Margolies joins as our storyteller. She is founder of Women’s Campaign International (WCI). Marjorie started WCI in 1998 to help increase the participation of women in political and democratic processes around the world “to make sure there were more women at the table.” Marjorie is an Emmy winning journalist, a former Congresswoman, an advocate for women, and a teacher.

Sue's Bio

Sue and Hector Badeau have 22 children. This is not a typo! They have adopted children from all over the world with a variety of life circumstances and challenges. They started out together with a plan of having a few children and adopting a few children. They ended up having 2 biological children and adopting 20 children. With their first adoption they told the agency that they wanted a child “most in need of a home and least likely to get one.” This became their family-building motto.

Sue has a degree in Early Child Development and Elementary Education from Smith College. She is currently the Director of the Cross Systems Integration team within the Knowledge Management department of Casey Family Programs. In recent years, she served as the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Children’s Commission and as the Deputy Director of the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care. In between, she had been a child welfare policy consultant for public and private agencies, universities and court systems.

Sue has worked in direct services at both the casework and supervisory levels in adoption and foster care in public and private agencies. She has developed curricula on many topics used to prepare professional child welfare staff, adoptive and foster parents, judges, attorneys and youth. She writes extensively on topics related to children, particularly those with special needs and is a frequent speaker at state, regional and national conferences.

Sue and her husband, Hector, are the lifetime parents of twenty-two children, two by birth and twenty adopted (two, with terminal illnesses, are now deceased). They have also served as foster parents for more than 50 children in three states, and as a host family for refugee youth from Sudan, Kosovo and Guatemala. Recently, their 30th grandchild and third great-grandchild were born. They have won numerous awards for their work, including being recognized by President Clinton with an “Adoption Excellence” award for their work on behalf of adoption and children in foster care.

Sue and her family are currently working on plans to create The Badeau Family Bed & Breakfast and Retreat Center as a place of respite for parents and caregivers of children and adults with special needs.

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