450 S. Yellowstone Dr., Madison, WI 53719 | 602 Pleasant Oak Dr., Oregon, WI 53575
Telephone: 608-821-8200 | Toll-free: 888-860-KIDS (5437)

Carol Gapen

Carol is one of the founders of The Law Center for Children & Families.  Although she no longer actively practices law, she remains of counsel to the firm.  She has been involved in issues affecting children and families for many years, first as a drug and alcohol counselor, a hospital social worker, a child protective services worker, and since 1988, as an attorney.  Her practice focused on adoption, guardianships, grandparents’ and foster parents’ rights, and assisted reproduction (including surrogacy).

In 2007, Carol received the U.S. Congressional “Angel in Adoption” Award, a national award honoring her outstanding advocacy in adoption and foster care issues. In 2011, she was honored as a Woman in the Law and subsequently named Woman of the Year by the Wisconsin Law Journal.

Professional Activities

Carol has written and presented frequently about child-related issues to attorneys, grandparents, foster parents, social workers and others. She has authored briefs in the U.S. and Wisconsin Supreme Courts, including an amicus curiae brief supporting grandparents in the Troxel case. She has also worked through the legislature and the courts to develop laws to protect and nurture children. Carol was a fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys since the early 1990s, and she was a charter fellow of the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys.

Carol is a founder of Adoptions of Wisconsin, Inc., and serves on its board of directors.  She is also a founder, owner, and officer of The Surrogacy Center, LLC.


Carol earned her law degree cum laude in 1988 from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She received her B.A. in psychology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1968.

Community Service

For many years, Carol acted in an advisory capacity to The Rainbow Project, a private, non-profit organization, providing services to children and families experiencing stress related to trauma, neglect, attachment issues, attachment issues, domestic violence, and other stressors.


Carol is enjoying the benefits of retirement and is looking forward to traveling more. She enjoys accompanying her dogs to the dog park and exploring the outdoors. She and her husband, Gary, have three grown sons and three grandchildren.