Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker Honor Elizabeth Occhipinti, Miriam's Heart, as an Angel in Adoption®

Advocating for Children in the Garden State

BOUND BROOK, N.J., Dec. 02, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The phone pings. The message seems urgent. Elizabeth Occhipinti breaks from her conversation and says, "I'm sorry, this sounds important." And it was. The text relayed the urgent situation of a young mother with three children reeling from a traumatic event. In the next few hours, the Miriam's Heart team and a group of local churches in the CarePortal New Jersey network mobilized food, clothing, and support to get this family the help they needed. This is one of over 60 similar situations in 2021 that exemplify why Elizabeth Occhipinti and the volunteers of Miriam's Heart were recently honored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) Angels in Adoption® Award.  

Angels in Adoption® Program honors individuals and organizations making extraordinary contributions to adoption, permanency, and child welfare. Elizabeth was chosen as the 2021 Angels in Adoption® Honoree from New Jersey by Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker. Past recipients of this award include notable names such as Muhammad Ali, First Lady Laura Bush, and Kristin Chenoweth, among many others. The honorees have the opportunity to meet with congressional offices to share their expertise and experiences. This November, Elizabeth was honored to speak with Senator Menendez and advocate on behalf of adoptees and speak to the importance of open adoption in New Jersey. 

New Jersey natives Elizabeth and her husband James are both adoptive and licensed foster parents. Through their experiences, they realized how significant the need was for prepared and supported foster and adoptive families and how few resources existed to meet that need. In response, they established Miriam's Heart, building the nonprofit from the ground up. Through their dedicated volunteer leadership, they have created many resources to ensure that more children thrive, establishing Miriam's Heart as a go-to resource for families. Most recently, Miriam's Heart demonstrated remarkable dedication in the face of the pandemic, innovating fresh ways to advocate for kids and support families and ensuring crucial funding needs were met.

"When families are in need, it is vital to surround them with support to help them thrive. It is not only the lack of resources that impact so many children; the system of care perpetuates uncertainty and lacks common-sense measures of stability that harm children and families. Children deserve to be safe. We created Miriam's Heart to prioritize support to children who might otherwise be considered high risk to promote healthy attachment and provide permanency, by restoring families," Occhipinti explained. 

About Miriam's Heart: 

Envisioning a world where children thrive and families are restored, Miriam's Heart is a grassroots, New Jersey-based non-profit that radically supports children who've been adopted or in foster care and their families. Learn more at and contact us at

Related Images

Image 1: Photograph taken during the virtual meeting

Members of CCAI with Senator Menendez and Elizabeth Occhipinti.

Image 2: Elizabeth Occhipinti

Speaking from Miriam's Heart headquarters

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Photograph taken during the virtual meeting