General Sessions

July 18, 2019 — Allison Maxon, LMFT, and Sharon Kaplan Roszia, MS, “The Seven Core Issues in Adoption and Permanency”

In Thursday’s general session on July 18, two nationally recognized experts in child welfare will talk about the seven core issues in adoption—loss, rejection, shame & guilt, grief, identity, intimacy, and mastery & control—and how much has changed in the last 20 years. More adoptions are from foster care and we have a better understanding of the impact of trauma and the importance of attachment. This keynote will update the conversation about the seven core issues; highlight their impact on the lives of children, parents, and families; and offer practical tools for addressing these lifelong issues.

July 19, 2019 — Young Adult Panel moderated by Michael Sanders, MSW, LISW, Making Placements Successful: Learning from Youth Who Lived It”

During Friday’s keynote panel presentation, the audience will learn directly from young people who have experienced foster care and adoption about how child welfare professionals and foster and adoptive parents can make their transition to a new placement more successful. Moderator Michael Sanders will explore with the panel best practices for welcoming a child or teen into a family and what steps professionals and parents took—or could have taken—to make foster care and adoption less difficult. Participants will learn new ways to think about how the actions they take affect young people in foster and adoptive placements.

July 20, 2019 — Punam Mathur, Power of Perspective. Power of You.”

In these times of rapid change and kerfuffle, join our closing session on Saturday to receive a quick reminder of your own super powers and where to reclaim them. (And, have some fun.) This presentation will leave you inspired and encouraged to go back and do your best—for your children, your families, and yourself!


Pre-Conference Session

July 17, 2019 — Daren Jones and Jill Crewes, MSW, will present “Empower, Connect, Correct: Principles and Tools of Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®)”

Designed to address physical and attachment needs and dispel difficult, fear-based behaviors, TBRI® is a powerful therapeutic tool for working with and raising children who have experienced trauma. In this day-long, intensive workshop for parents and professionals, two experienced trainers from the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development will teach about the TBRI® method that has brought hope and healing to many children and their families.

Participants will learn about the effects of complex developmental trauma and how the foundational principles of TBRI®—empowering, connecting, and correcting—are used to engage and empower children to change behaviors. The session will also cover how to recognize the effects of sensory processing on behaviors, tools for interpreting and regulating behaviors, and proactive and responsive strategies to deal with challenging behaviors while creating an environment of connection and safety. Participants will leave with the tools they need to start building calmer, trust-based relationships with children whose trust has been damaged.

  • Date: July 17, 2019
    Time: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
    Audience: Parents and Professionals
    Registration fee: $125 US
    Lunch: On Your Own

Pre-conference registration fees are separate from regular conference fees. You can register for the pre-conference session even if you do not attend the rest of the conference.

Check-in starts at 7:45 am CEUs (6 contact hours/0.6 CEUs) can be purchased at the end of the session.




Please note: We will update sessions for the 2019 conference in April 2019. To give you an idea of what our workshops may be like, below are the workshops from the 2018 conference.


2018 Workshops


Workshop Period 1
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
10:30 am – 12:00 pm

 1A — Digging at the Roots: Advancing Beyond PTSD in Developmental Trauma Treatment

In this research-based seminar, we will discuss developmental trauma and treatment techniques to use when working with individuals who have high adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) scores. We will cover the newly proposed developmental trauma disorder (DTD) diagnosis, effective interventions for children who have DTD, and the implications of a PTSD diagnosis for treatment. Topics will include examining affect and attention management, somatic dysregulation and its treatment, and key aspects of true relational treatment models.
Steve Sawyer, CALO, Missouri

1B — Working on a Team with Difficult Players: How to Navigate “the System” and Advocate for Your Family

This presentation will take you through things to know before adopting from foster care, how to work with difficult workers and still get your needs met, and practical tools for being successful in finding the right adoptive placement and making it to finalization.
Nikki Wait, Lutheran Social Services, Minnesota

1C — The Seven Core Issues in Adoption and Permanency

We sometimes think of adoption as a simple, problem-solving event where everyone benefits. Framed from this perspective, it is easy to minimize the lifelong losses and issues that adoption creates. But this ignores that adoption constellation members have had the trajectory of their lives altered forever. Come learn about how to acknowledge and address Roszia and Silverstein’s seven core issues in adoption and permanency—loss, rejection, shame/guilt, grief, identity, intimacy, and mastery/control—to promote healing and well-being.
Allison Maxon, LMFT, National Center on Adoption and Permanency, California

1E — Beyond Customer Service: Trust as a Key Element in Recruiting and Retaining African American Adoptive Families

Since 2001 more than 200 African American families in rural South Carolina have adopted 800 children, with low disruption rates. This research explores factors leading to successful family recruitment including family characteristics, community characteristics, and agency characteristics, with the role of a family worker as key to recruitment, support, and continued post-adoption support of families.
Ruth G. McRoy, PhD, Boston College, Massachusetts • Kathleen Belanger, PhD, Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas Joe Haynes, Adoption Advocacy SC, South Carolina

1F — Wažoki Means Family: Winnebago Family Group Decision Making

As part of a national Children’s Bureau grant, Winnebago Human Services is partnering with the QIC-AG to develop culturally congruent practices that improve permanency outcomes for children who have court-ordered, non-reunification permanency goals. Ho-Chunk values and teachings support a collective practice for ensuring that children are loved, nurtured, taught, and protected within families, clans, and the tribe. This session explores the process of adapting family group conferencing to support Winnebago families in making permanency decisions.
Candace Payer, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Nebraska • Rowena Fong, University of Texas at Austin • Connie Bear King, Spaulding for Children, Michigan

1G — Adoption Assistance for Special Needs Adoptions

In this session, you will learn the basics of adoption assistance for children adopted from foster care, including eligibility, benefits, tax ramifications, and more. Participants will receive state-specific information and will come away with concrete strategies to better advocate for foster and adopted children with special needs. The workshop will also include an overview of the US federal adoption tax credit.
Josh Kroll, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota

1H — Promoting a Work Culture that Supports and Retains Competent, Engaged Professionals

Frequent worker turnover in child welfare is bad for permanency. And, staying in a ridiculously difficult job without the pay, development opportunities, and environmental supports that foster wellness is bad for professionals. Learn about one agency’s efforts to create an agency that is good for youth and families — and the professionals who serve them.
Misty Coonce, Michelle Chalmers, & Aubrey Haddican, Ampersand Families, Minnesota

1I — Speak Up and Be Heard! Legislative Advocacy for Children, Youth, and Families

More and more successful advocacy is based on hearing from the collective voices of youth, parents, and professionals in the field of child welfare. Join this interactive, hands-on session to learn effective strategies and tips for successful advocacy— both in your community and at the federal and state levels. The presenters will also share the latest federal policy updates and advocacy messages being discussed at the national level.
Joe Kroll, Voice for Adoption, District of Columbia • Sue Badeau, child welfare speaker/consultant, Pennsylvania

1J — LGBT Parents and Our Children

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parenting looks like most other parenting, but there are some important differences. We must equip our children to navigate a unique set of challenges in a society that often judges their family unit as inferior. From subtle exclusion to outright discrimination, our children are on the front lines. The presenters will offer practical and humorous advice on how LGBT families nurture self-acceptance and resilience.
John Ireland, RaiseAChild.US, California • Nitara Frost, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota

1L — Coaching for Skill Mastery: Use of the 3-5-7 Model in Resource Parenting

The 3-5-7 Model has been implemented across the nation and in Canadian jurisdictions as a model to strengthen worker skill and change systems to facilitate relational permanence for youth in foster care. This session will highlight how the model is now being used to coach resource parents on the relational skills necessary to respond to the complex needs of youth.
Darla L. Henry, PhD, MSW & Stephanie Hodge Wolfe, Darla L. Henry & Associates, Pennsylvania


Workshop Period 2
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
1:30 – 3:00 pm

2A — Regulating Bodies, Brains, and Relationships

Adverse experiences in early childhood can make taking in information through our bodies much more difficult. This directly impacts relational experiences. Although the primary focus of this workshop will be sensory processing, attendees will learn to integrate sensory processing, attachment, and trauma interventions to provide co-regulatory experiences. Presenters will provide experiential, holistic, mindful, attachment-based interventions to address body and brain regulation needs.
Kelly Ryan-Schmidt & Meghan Nagle, Three Rivers Adoption Council, Pennsylvania

2D — What to Do With All That Anger: Theirs and Ours!

For children to have successful relational and coping skills, they must learn how to effectively express and manage their anger. Children who have experienced neglect, trauma, or multiple attachment disruptions frequently feel anger, pain, distress, and fear. Parents must understand the physiological roots of anger (their child’s and their own). In this training, parents will learn ways to diffuse anger and to teach children how to emote and discharge anger in socially acceptable ways.
Allison Maxon, LMFT, National Center on Adoption and Permanency, California

2E — Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Expansion

Sarah Stevens, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Ohio

2G — Minnesota Support Services for Adoptive, Foster, and Kinship Care Families

This workshop will explore the support services offered for adoptive, foster, and kinship families in Minnesota, including peer support for parents and children/teens, training, and referral to mental health services. Attendees can learn about the program model, while attendees from Minnesota can learn about how to get the support they need.
Ginny Blade, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota Emily Alewine, MN Adopt, Minnesota

2H — Brain-Based Leadership: Using Neurology to Create a Connected Leader

We’ve learned so much about brain process and how crucial it is to creating safety, understanding, and connection for families—but how does it relate to leadership? Come learn how to use brain science to create the connection and safety for staff that drive creativity and joy in organizations. Learn to understand your own brain, and how it relates to those you lead.
Janice Goldwater & Alisha Wolf, Adoptions Together, Maryland

2J — Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation in Adoption in Indian Country

Participants will learn about the history of Indian child welfare, what historical trauma looks like in Indian families and individuals, and examples of healing initiatives in Indian country. The presenter will share the results of a recent research study about Native American adoptees and will also share experiences as a commissioner of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Sandra Whitehawk, First Nations Repatriation Institute, Minnesota

2K — Setting a New Standard: Transitioning to Adulthood

In this session, you’ll learn a different approach to help a young person with a trauma history on a key development journey: transitioning to adulthood. A mother, daughter, and daughter’s husband will take you through the ups and downs of dealing with social services, medical and judicial systems, and responding to other complex issues as a young adult with challenges moves toward finding purpose, success, and independence.
Jodee Kulp & Liz Kulp, Better Endings New Beginnings, Minnesota • Samuel Guerrido, Good Fruit Camp Productions, Minnesota

2L — Facilitating Educational Success for Children in Adoption and Foster Care

A critical component of counseling and parent support is the need to ensure success for children at school, especially those with special needs. This training addresses working with teachers to ensure sensitivity and understanding of adoption-related experiences and issues, and how they may manifest themselves at school – as well as how parents, mental health professionals, and school personnel can collaborate to support the needs of foster and adoptive students.
Sean Delehant, Center for Adoption Support and Education, Maryland

2M — Connections Matter: Communication and Relationship with Birth Family

Maintaining connections with birth family is important but complex. This workshop helps participants explore the many ways adoptive parents can navigate these relationships from sharing birth family history with their children, including addressing difficult information; honoring birth parents in both open and closed adoptions; as well as how to handle the potential challenges involved in search and reunion, especially in the age of social media.
Debbie Riley, LCMFT, Center for Adoption Support and Education, Maryland 


Workshop Period 3
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
3:30 – 5:00 pm

3A — Supporting Permanency with Improved Adoption Mental Health Competent Services

This presentation will include discussion of the importance of adoption-competency and provide an overview and demonstration of a free web-based training for child welfare and mental health professionals. The presenters will discuss experiences in pilot sites, review preliminary findings on training effectiveness for child welfare professionals and supervisors, and discuss when the training will be available to the broader community.
Dawn Wilson, Center for Adoption Support and Education, Maryland • Lisa D Maynard, LMSW, RYT, Center for Adoption Support and Education, New York • Nadine Groven, Minnesota Department of Human Services Child Safety and Permanency Division, Minnesota • Jo Melanie Meyer, MSW, MEd, Children’s Administration, Washington

3B — Parenting from the Trenches

See your kids in a whole new light! This workshop offers a toolbox of strategies for parenting children and teens. Topics include developing trust and attachment while helping children learn to manage their own behaviors, build self-esteem, and maintain sanity. The presenter will give special attention to the unique world of teens.
Denise Goodman, PhD, trainer/consultant, Ohio

3D — Whole-Hearted, Whole-Brained Parenting for Children Recovering from Trauma

So many children in foster care and adoption struggle with grief, loss, dysregulation, and maladaptive attachment. Parents are better able to help their children when they use strategies that are whole-hearted and whole-brained. In this workshop, parents and professionals will explore the importance of therapeutic parenting, including modeling vulnerability and empathy, fostering attachment, and using strategies that nurture healthy brain development in children.
Julie Beem, MBA, Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc., Georgia • Tif Sudela-Junker, Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc., Washington

3E — Empowering Older Youth to Help Recruit Their Adoptive Family

Finding adoptive families for teens can be a challenge. Northwest Adoption Exchange partners with youth in foster care to take an innovative approach to recruiting families. By letting teens take the lead in telling their stories, choosing what to share with families, and how they want to share it (through art, music, videos, and more), these youth are inspiring families to come forward. As true collaborators, they are empowered to be their own advocates and creative storytellers. Come learn what’s possible in adoption recruitment for older youth.
Nick Baumgartner & Tyler Helbach, Northwest Adoption Exchange, Washington

3G — From Adoption to Residential Treatment Centers: The Experiences of Youth and Families

This interactive workshop will review the role of residential treatment centers (RTCs) in post-adoption services to better understand the experiences of adoptive families raising youth with mental health special needs placed in RTCs. We will report on interview findings of ten adoptive families with children placed in residential treatment centers and provide suggestions for improvements needed in post-adoption services.
Kim Brown, Capital Adoptive Families Alliance, California • Rowena Fong, University of Texas at Austin

3I — In the Best Interests of Children and Families: New Indian Child Welfare Act Regulations and Guidelines

In December 2016, new comprehensive Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) regulations and guidelines went into effect. The regulations and guidelines provide additional clarity and new requirements for implementation of ICWA that address several areas of services for American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, including both voluntary and involuntary adoption proceedings. This workshop will provide an overview of the new regulations and guidelines plus practice tips for child welfare practitioners.
David Simmons, MSW, National Indian Child Welfare Association, Oregon

3J — Raising African American Youth in Adoption and Foster Care

Given the racial tension, discrimination, and violence against African Americans, especially African American young men, adoptive and foster parents have a big task when raising African American children in adoption and foster care. Parents need to recognize the differences between personal bias and institutional racism and the impact that both are likely to have on their children and/or family. Come to this session to learn how parents can help promote the development of a healthy racial identity while also teaching young people about the racism, stigma, and challenges they may encounter.
Sue Badeau, child welfare speaker/consultant, Pennsylvania • Zachary Fried, Adoption STAR, Inc, New York

3K — I’m Just Trying to Feel Something Else: Chemical Abuse in Adopted Adolescents

Mental health symptoms and chemical abuse are more common during teenage years. When these concerns are combined with attachment disruptions, special challenges face the teen, but also their family and clinician. Attendees will learn the basics of the adolescent brain, attachment-based parenting, and the negative effects of chemical abuse; explore the common reasons adolescents abuse chemicals; process the complex relationship between attachment disruptions and chemical abuse; and learn interventions for addressing chemical abuse in adolescents using an attachment and trauma-informed lens.
Adam Arnold & Anne Johnson, Enliven Psychotherapy, Minnesota

3L — Now What? Helping Children Cope with Adoption Disruption

We try to avoid adoption disruptions at all costs, yet there are still times when they occur. How do you help a child pick up the pieces after experiencing multiple losses? In this interactive workshop, we will explore the prevalence of adoption disruptions and the research on disruptions. This workshop will be beneficial for clinicians and families that are working with children that have experienced an adoption disruption.
Khalilah L. Caines, Saint Leo University, Florida • Tanya Johnson-Gilchrist, Tiny Little Jewels and the University of South Florida


Workshop Period 4
Thursday, August 9, 2018
10:30 am – 12:00 pm

4A — Therapeutic Interventions for Sleep Difficulties in Children with Early Trauma and Relational Losses

This workshop will demonstrate relationships between early trauma, implicit memories, and sleep issues. Environmental adaptation in early brain development prepares children for the perceived risks involved with sleep resulting in behavioral patterns that are hard to shift. Therapeutic responses to bedtime behaviors that address implicit memories will be explored.
Andrea Chatwin, MA, A Child’s Song, British Columbia

4B — No One Told Me it Would Be This…

You thought you were ready. You did your pre-adoption training, finished your home study, deeply thought about what you wanted from parenting a child on an adoption journey … and then … you became a parent!! This workshop will explore what it really means to be part of a permanency journey and the things we need to think about as adoptive parents. The things we might want to avoid. Join us to discuss the good, the bad, and the …
Karen Moore, Open Doors for Lanark Children and Youth, Ontario

4C — Laughter for the (Mental) Health of It: How to Ease the Stresses and Pains of Parenting and Everyday Life

Laughing is one of the healthiest things one can do when facing the deep stresses, tensions, and pains of everyday life and parenting in particular. This workshop will highlight how to bring more laughter into both your home life and life in general, while also making the case this is an essential ingredient in preventing parent burnout for those raising even the most difficult of children.
Pat O’Brien, LMSW, LTMN, founder, You Gotta Believe!, New York

4F — Adoption and Other Options for Teens

This workshop provides a model for teen permanence that includes dealing with teen ambivalence toward a permanent family, locating families, making the strongest placements, and supporting the placement. Reassessing birth parents, relatives, and past connections is the focus, even when a TPR has taken place. Other recruitment activities will be discussed as well. This is an interactive workshop—bring your most challenging cases for discussion.
Barry Chaffkin & Bryan Hill, LMSW, Fostering Change for Children, New York

4G — Keeping the Hardest Kids Out of Residential: An In-Home Intervention

This session presents an innovative in-home therapeutic program that keeps children with very challenging behaviors at home and out of treatment centers. Through the behavioral interventionist (BI) program, foster/adoptive families engage with highly trained behavioral specialists who implement a treatment plan in the child’s home and community. Using neural- developmental strategies, specialists work one-on-one with the child to improve emotional regulation and de-escalate crises, while the child is cared for at home.
Lori Ross & Liz Luce, FosterAdopt Connect, Missouri

4H — Unregulated Custody Transfer of Adopted Children: A Collaborative Response

A 2013 Reuter’s article brought attention to the practice of unregulated custody transfer—also known as rehoming—of adopted children. This practice involves parents seeking new homes for adopted children without the benefit of agency, system, or court involvement and typically results in moving children to homes without a home study or background check, exposing children to great risk. This workshop will provide background on unregulated custody transfers and will explore the federal government’s collaborative response.
Patricia Maskew & Stefanie Eye, Department of State, District of Columbia • June Dorn, US Children’s Bureau, District of Columbia • Carla Aaron, Tennessee Director of Child Safety

4J — The Tapestry of Transracially Adopted Children’s Lives: Race, Culture, Attachment, and Trauma

This workshop for professionals will focus on the impact of children’s experiences before placement on children’s lives after placement, especially related to race, culture, attachment, and trauma. The presenters will share strategies and considerations for professionals as they work with prospective and current transracial adoptive and foster parents.
Deb Reisner & Jerome Brown, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota

4K — Youth Voices Matter: What Our Experiences Have Taught Us

Too often, children and youth in foster care and adoption are voiceless in the decisions that are made for them and about them. We believe that the voices of children and youth should be heard and honored, especially in decisions that have such a profound impact on their lives. In this session designed for parents and professionals, a panel of young adults who have experienced foster care and/or adoption will share aspects of their lived experiences to help educate others on the needs of youth in care, what would have made a difference for them, and how parents and professionals can better understand and support children and youth throughout their foster care and adoption journeys.
Kayla VanDyke, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota & young adult panel

4L — How Trauma Impacts Self-Regulation, Empathy, and Social Engagement

This workshop will discuss how complex, developmental trauma can impact children’s ability to attach to their caregivers, empathize, and engage in a socially appropriate manner, as well as the development of their learning and memory, and complex problem-solving skills. We will also discuss practical skills to address the impact of trauma across these domains.
Nancy Binford, private practice, Minnesota

4M — Adoption Openness Mediation: Making Openness Work for All

Anne Kishiyama, Ministry of Child and Family Development, British Columbia • Colleen Shaw & Terra Nielsen, Child Protection Mediation Program/Ministry of Attorney General, British Columbia


Workshop Period 5
Thursday, August 9, 2018
1:30 – 3:00 pm

5A — Chaos to Calm: Brain Based Interventions for Challenging Behaviors

The brain is the boss of behavior. Change the Brain, change behavior. Kicking, hitting, running, fighting, defiance, truancy, lying, attachment challenges, and every other negative behavior is a manifestation of a brain in a negative state. Learn strategies for calming the brain and in turn calming the behaviors. The convergence of ancient healing practices and the new neurosciences have provided exciting, dynamic opportunities for making the transition from Chaos to Calm in our homes and in our offices, today!
Jules Alvarado, MA, LPC, Alvarado Consulting and Treatment Group, Colorado

5C — Reconciling the Grief of Unmet Expectations and Finding Ways to Stay Connected

Parental grief and disappointment are often the unidentified reasons adoptive and foster parents seek professional services. After years of frustration and lack of support, parents may report being disappointed in their experiences, their children, their families, the system, and themselves. This session will discuss how parents can develop acceptance and connection to self and child, respond to secondary trauma, and find a way to see and feel the positive.
Deena McMahon, McMahon Counseling and Consultation, Minnesota • Lucius Luther, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota

5E — Relationship Development Matching: Finding Permanency for Youth

Relationship development matching (RDM) is an effective tool for finding permanence for youth considered difficult to place. Through this process, you can—especially when you understand why each step matters—prepare youth for adoption, find the right adoptive family, and support the youth and family through finalization. We will outline RDM and explain the deeper therapeutic purpose behind each step, demonstrating how we use RDM to repair damaged attachments, help families attune with youth, and move from introduction to relationship to family formation.
Sandra Sertyn & Heather Bollier Yetter, Sierra Forever Families, California

5F — Intercountry Adoption Displacement: What Do We Know and What Can We Do About It?

When a Russian adoptee was sent “back” to Russia in 2010 the world learned what the adoption community already knew— adopted children sometimes experience displacement. The workshop will discuss the findings of two research studies on intercountry adoption displacement—one on the experiences of parents who chose to place a child in out-of-home care, and the other on the experiences of adult intercountry adoptees who experienced displacement. These findings can help us think about what pre- and post- adoption practices need to be in place and how adoption professionals can better support intercountry adoptive families.
JaeRan Kim, PhD, University of Washington Tacoma, Social Work and Criminal Justice Program

5G — Peer to Peer Support: Crucial to Success

Parents and professionals are invited to learn effective ways to provide adoptive, foster, and kinship care families with information and support—including through support groups, a peer to peer support network, private Facebook groups, and other programs.
Barb Clark, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota

5H — Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI)

The Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) provides foster parents a voice—a voice in issues that affect the children they are caring for, but also in the way the system treats children and families. Caregivers, agency staff, and birth parents work as a team to support children and youth and ensure they receive the love, services, and support they need. Come learn about QPI and its approach to strengthening foster care by refocusing on excellent parenting for all children in the child welfare system.
Phyllis Stevens, Youth Law Center/QPI, Pennsylvania • Gretchen Test, Youth Law Center, Connecticut

5I — Funding Post-Adoption Services

Post-adoption services funding sources include state general revenue, federal Title IV-B, the adoption/guardianship incentive program, and mandates for states to reinvest Title IV-E savings in post-adoption services. Come hear how states are funding post-adoption services and learn how your state can access, advocate for, and benefit from these funding streams.
Joe Kroll, consultant, Minnesota

5K — Community Connections Youth Project: Helping Young Adults Transition to Adulthood

This workshop takes attendees through the development of the Community Connections Youth Project and the impact it has had on young adults who have aged out of the foster care system, or those at risk of aging out. The presenter will discuss models used in the program, indicators for success, the strengths-based approach that allows young adults to thrive in the program, unique approaches that have made the most impact on implementation, and how attendees can bring aspects of the program to their own communities.
Nathan Ross, FosterAdopt Connect, Missouri

5M — Mothers and Daughters: An Open Adoption Journey

In this workshop you will learn about birth family and sibling connections as a panel of five women — a birth mom, adoptive mom, siblings, and their social worker at the time of adoption — share their personal open adoption journey that spans almost three decades. With straight talk about relationships in an open adoption that dispels persistent myths and fears, this workshop will address the importance of birth family and sibling connections, parenting the adopted child, pre- and post-adoption services, and how all connect to make an open adoption successful.
Laveda Moore Doxey, LCSW, clinical adoption social worker, Georgia • Andrea Berry, adoptive parent, Georgia • LaTonya Russell, birth mother, Georgia • Jessica Berry, adoptee, Georgia • Brittany Russell, birth sibling, Georgia


Workshop Period 6
Thursday, August 9, 2018
3:30 – 5:00 pm

6A — Brainspotting: The Preferred Power Therapy for Adoption

Brainspotting is a powerful, focused treatment method that works by identifying, processing, and releasing core neurophysiological sources of emotional or body pain, trauma, dissociation, and a variety of challenging symptoms. This workshop will serve as an introduction to Brainspotting and highlight why it is particularly beneficial for adoptees including the focus on attunement and relationship, trusting the client, and flexibility in the process. The presenter will also provide specific suggestions for attachment-based issues.
Brooke Randolph, LMHC, Indiana

6B — Intentional Parent: Getting the Results You Want

As parents of children who struggle, it is important we know the whys; but it is the hows that we have the most control over. Some examples include: how to handle tantrums, how to deal with lying and stealing, and how to help your child with food issues. You have come to the right place: tools and techniques that work and an action plan to put in place immediately. Stop spinning in circles and start getting the results you want.
Stacy Manning, RN, Hope Connections, Minnesota

6D — Understanding Trauma and Attachment Through the Eyes of a Child

When parents and those working with children say that they have tried everything they know and are not seeing change, chances are they are dealing with trauma and attachment issues. Children who are afraid to trust can be some of the most difficult to understand and to care for, yet there are therapeutic parenting practices that will make a difference. Join this interactive workshop to learn more about attachment, how to parent your children, and how to choose a good, trauma- informed therapist.
Mary M. McGowan, ATTACh, Minnesota

6E — Effective Photolisting: Best Practices for Developing Strengths-Based Narratives

This workshop will present AdoptUSKids guidance on best practices for writing high-quality child narratives for photolistings. Developed in consultation with experts around the country, the guidance is based on best practices in states and our national photolisting. We will provide strategies for writing narratives that highlight a child’s individual strengths while protecting their safety, privacy, and dignity, including when using social media for recruitment. We will also discuss ways to build agency capacity and reform culture and infrastructure to ensure the best possible practices and outcomes.
Mary Boo, AdoptUSKids, Minnesota & Tracy Serdjenian, AdoptUSKids, Colorado

6F — Overcoming Barriers — Permanency for Older Children and Youth

Matching and placing older, significant needs youth with prospective adoptive families represents one of the most challenging aspects of permanency casework. Framed as “lessons learned,” participants will discuss the trends and realities of achieving permanency for older youth. The presenter will highlight successful recruitment strategies and techniques for harnessing a variety of services to overcome barriers to permanency which have resulted in 70% of the significant needs population achieving permanency in Pennsylvania.
Robert Brockman, Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network

6G — Maintaining Connections to Families Post-Permanence: The Value of a Universal Outreach

Staying connected to families post-permanence can be challenging. Connection is just a survey away. The Vermont QIC-AG project team will share the secrets to developing a post-permanency survey that can help your agency 1) maintain contact with and 2) better identify and respond to the needs of child welfare, and inter-country and private domestic adoptive and guardianship families. The session will also highlight how survey data can be shared and used to inform the service delivery system.
Rowena Fong, University of Texas at Austin • Christina Shuma, Site Implementation Manager, Vermont • Karen Norton, Spaulding for Children, Michigan

6H — We Can’t Be Too Careful! Revamping Home Studies and Post-Placement Assessments

Click to access handout (53 pages)

Typically home studies and post-placement assessments are the subjective self-reports of adult applicants rather than an assessment of family dynamics. This workshop will explore assessment approaches that use a framework that bridges systemic and behavioral perspectives. The presenter will argue for multilevel/multisystem assessment procedures that fit the family and are based more on how people behave than what they say.
Wayne Duehn, PhD, University of Texas at Arlington

6J — Transracial Adoption: Lessons Learned from Young Adulthood to Parenthood

As young adults, the presenters shared the impact transracial adoption had on their formative years. Now, 20 years later they will share their perspective on how transracial adoption has influenced their adulthood, touch on its impact on their formative years, and present an adaptation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs based on their lived experience.
Alexis Oberdorfer, Children’s Home & LSS, Minnesota • Robert O’Connor, Metropolitan State University, Minnesota

6K — Beneath the Mask: Adoption Through the Eyes of Adolescents

Participants will explore how the typical developmental adolescent tasks including separation from parents, identity formation, and sexuality are intensified by adoption, particularly in transracial adoption. This presentation will highlight the six areas where teens get stuck as key vulnerabilities around the adoption experience in adolescence. Potentially mild and serious emotional and behavioral issues at home and at school will be addressed, as well as clinical strategies.
Debbie Riley, LCMFT, Center for Adoption Support and Education, Maryland

6L — Adoption Is Built on an Imbalance of Power Just as Abuse Is: How Do Adoption Professionals Respond?

There is an imbalance of power in all relationships between adults and children because all children, by nature, are vulnerable to the power of adults. It’s that vulnerability that allows children to be abused. Defenses children develop to protect themselves from their abusers interfere in their relationships with the adults who adopt (or attempt to adopt) them. We will discuss how our agency successfully uses techniques that show children the vulnerability that allowed them to be abused need not be the same vulnerability required in a new parent/child relationship.
Jack Brennan & Joanne Ferrante, Family Focus Adoption Services, New York


Workshop Period 7
Friday, August 10, 2018
8:30 – 10:00 am

7A — Do You See What I See? Healing Relational Trauma Through Mindfulness and the Body

This workshop will describe and demonstrate the use of sensorimotor and mindfulness methods to build reflective function, attunement (to the body and mind), and a felt sense of safety and trust within adoptive families raising attachment compromised, trauma exposed children. Through lecture, role play, and video we will enhance use of self and somatic observation skills, and we will provide exercises and techniques to build these abilities, restore balance, and improve regulation in adoptive persons and their families.
Wendy Baker, LICSW & Krista Nelson, LICSW, LMFT, Family Circle Counseling PLLC, Minnesota

7B — Inducement: Understanding the Acting-Out Behavior of Your Adopted Children

This workshop offers a positive approach for workers and families to make sense of (and deal with) some of the anger and frustration adopted children can make their parents feel. Understanding this dynamic, as well as other key parent/child interactions unique to new adoptive families, can help turn a crisis in an adoptive family into an opportunity for true communication and strengthened commitment.
Maris H. Blechner, MEd, LCSW, Maris Blechner Consulting LLC, New York

7C — Secondary Trauma: The Art and Science of Self Care

This workshop takes a light-hearted approach to a very serious topic. Secondary trauma is a job hazard for both parents and professionals. We start this journey highly optimistic with no idea of how demanding and grief filled it may be. Raising and working with hurt children requires us to be intentional about getting from our head to our heart. Exhaustion, hopelessness, and frustration can impact our overall sense of well-being. Barriers to self-care will be discussed along with daily dilemmas that contribute to burnout. Ideas, strategies, and simple ways to improve self-care will be shared and practiced.
Deena McMahon, McMahon Counseling and Consultation, Minnesota

7D — FASD – Parenting Differently

Children with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) typically have brain differences that affect their learning and behavior and they need us to take a different parenting approach. And those who have a trauma history can face additional challenges. Parenting with an understanding of these differences, using a neurobehavioral approach, reduces frustration and promotes success!
Kari Fletcher, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota

7E — Hitting the Mark! Targeted Recruitment Strategies

This session will help participants gain skills to design recruitment campaigns that educate their communities about the need for foster and adoptive parents. The speaker will pay special attention to designing recruitment strategies focused on teens, children with disabilities and challenges, sibling groups, children of color, and other target communities.
Denise Goodman, PhD, trainer/consultant, Ohio

7G — Developing and Supporting Prospective and Current Foster and Adoptive Parents

When recruiting prospective parents, agencies have an opportunity to begin preparing and supporting parents to strengthen the pool of families for children in foster care. This workshop will present ways to design and implement a response system that helps parents understand the children’s needs and deepen their self-assessment for parenting children who have experienced trauma. The presenters will also discuss ways to support families after placement and how these post-placement services are connected to the support provided during the recruitment process.
Mary Boo & Alicia Groh, AdoptUSKids, Minnesota

7H — What Role Does Adoption Play in an UnSystem?

Our child welfare system is designed to protect kids from harm but often fails to protect them from the trauma of being separated from family. We believe the majority of families could keep their children safely at home given the right supports and that only a small percentage of children would never return home. With the partnership of numerous innovators plus the wisdom of those with lived experience in child welfare, we developed the UnSystem to transform child welfare systems. We will discuss the work we are doing, the role non-kin adoption plays, and how to maintain a child’s uninterrupted sense of belonging in the process.
Amelia Franck Meyer & Katie Miller, Alia, Minnesota

7J — Tangled: Hair, Race, and Identity

For traumatized children, a sense of normalcy in their new placement can be comforting in the midst of chaos. One way that caregivers can promote healing and build a strong racial identity is through hair care. Participants will gain confidence in taking care of their child’s hair. A hands-on demonstration will also provide participants a chance to see the importance of appropriate hair care for African American children in care.
Naijean Bernard-Onwere, PhD & Easter Spates, LPC, Cenpatico, Texas

7L — Grieving Before Connecting: Preparing Youth for Permanency

This workshop will present an overview of the Intensive Permanence Services model which integrates best practices in grief, loss, and trauma, and prepares youth for permanency while seeking, engaging, and developing adult connections. Participants will receive multiple tools used to assist youth in resolving past losses and develop healthy connections.
Erin Wall, Anu Family Services, Wisconsin & Angela Shepherd, Anu Family Services, Minnesota


Workshop Period 8
Friday, August 10, 2018
10:30 am – 11:45 am

8A — Demystifying and Understanding Behaviors: The Purposes and Parts of a Neuropsychological Evaluation

This workshop will provide parents with an in-depth understanding of a neuropsychological evaluation. It will highlight the different domains of functioning that are assessed, review a typical test battery, and discuss the purpose of the tests, as well as the strengths and limitations of an evaluation.
Nancy Binford, private practice, Minnesota

8B — The Comprehensive Assessment of Internationally and Domestically Adopted and Foster Care Children

This workshop presents an in-depth overview of medical factors to consider when adopting internationally or domestically, or receiving a foster child placement. This presentation will also outline factors families and adoption professionals can consider (such as common medical concerns, effects of trauma and deprivation, and effective therapies) for a more positive adoption or foster care outcome.
Kimara Gustafson, Laura Jean, & Maria Kroupina , Adoption Medicine Clinic, University of Minnesota

8C — Why Are We Still Sad? Living with Ambiguous Loss

Adoption does not occur without loss. Yet, discussing loss can be difficult and complex. This workshop explores ambiguous loss and how it differs from other types of loss. It examines the experience of adoptees, first parents and families, adoptive parents and families, and those involved in foster care. Attendees will learn how to recognize and honor the grief of ambiguous loss, discover ways to live with loss, and move forward in hope.
Sally Ankerfelt, GIFT Family Services, LLC, Minnesota • Joann DiStefano, GIFT Family Services, LLC, Illinois

8D — Responding to Challenging Behaviors: The Collaborative Problem-Solving Approach

Kids do well if they can, not because they want to. In this session, we will explore the foundations of Collaborative Problem Solving, an evidence-based approach to challenging behavior that is grounded in relationship and skill building, and is backed by over 50 years of research. Participants will leave with concrete, practical skills that they can put into use immediately to reduce challenging behavior, get high priority expectations met, and help kids build the skills for success.
Ed Morales, Socorro Consulting, Minnesota

8E — Storytelling and Video as a Tool for Recruitment

There’s nothing more powerful than a story. The Reel Hope Project is a nonprofit in Minnesota that creates videos of kids waiting to be adopted, using their stories to recruit potential adoptive families. Come learn how you can use the power of storytelling to find the right adoptive families for waiting kids in your community.
Kaycee Stanley, The Reel Hope Project, Minnesota

8F — Creating Cultural Permanency Through Adoption

Are you ready to learn innovative ways to prepare children for permanence that ensures they are culturally connected? The presenters will explore some of the ways Lalum’utul’ Smun’eem Child and Family Services – one of two delegated Aboriginal child welfare agencies in Canada to have an adoption program – ensures that children in care have a strong cultural foundation by working with community, Elders, Cowichan teachings, openness agreements, and the legal dimensions of permanency, and including the children and their families in the process.
Addie Price & Dorthy Joe, Lalum’utul’ Smun’eem Child and Family Services, British Columbia

8G — Disruptions and Dissolutions 360: Motivation for Pre-Adoption Education and Support

In this session, we’ll share lessons learned from experienced parents and those who reached the brink of disruption or dissolution about what pre-adoption training and education families most need. Assessing motivations for adoption, setting realistic expectations, offering helpful strategies, and building connections to supportive community services are all essential to preparing prospective adoptive parents to ensure children’s safety and success.
Heidi Wiste & Leah Strom, Children’s Home Society & LSS, Minnesota

8H — It’s Time to Name the Big Adoption Enemy: Consumer Mentality

When we look at why adoptions fail, sometimes we don’t see things that are really close at hand. New families getting ready for adoption need preparation not just for the children they are adopting, but for how to handle bad advice, and how to combat the consumerism in the wider American culture which is the opposite of the commitment mentality that adoptive parents need.
Maris H. Blechner, MEd, LCSW, Maris Blechner Consulting LLC, New York

8J — Building Organizational Capacity for LGBTQ Inclusive Practice

LGBTQ children, youth, and families continue to face barriers in the child welfare system. LGBTQ young people are over- represented in foster care and face bias and discrimination while in care. LGBTQ parents remain an untapped resource for many agencies in need of more loving homes. This workshop will discuss the barriers faced by the LGBTQ community, organizational policies and practices to remove these obstacles, and the HRC Foundation’s All Children–All Families program’s model and tools for practice improvement.
Alison Delpercio, Human Rights Campaign Foundation, District of Columbia

8K — Unpacking the “No” to Adoption

When approached about the idea of permanency, youth in care often respond with a resounding “No, I don’t want to be adopted.” Why is this? What’s behind the no? Designed for caregivers and professional staff, this fast-paced, fun-filled workshop intends to unpack the no and go beyond youth’s words to find the “Yes!” The presenter will share ideas that both individuals and organizations can implement to help young people say yes to a permanent family.
Michael Sanders, MSW, LISW, Michael Sanders Enterprises, Georgia


Workshop Period 9
Friday, August 10, 2018
1:15 – 2:45 pm

9A — Diagnostic Conundrums

This workshop looks at the issue of diagnosis in adoption and foster care, including the use and misuse of labels (such as bipolar and reactive attachment disorder), and the need to understand how influences interact (such as developmental delays, identity issues, chemical exposure) and to determine, in each individual case, which factors are salient and which are not. The presenter will also cover how parents can be expert advocates who maintain a whole picture of the child that is resistant to diagnostic fragmentation.
John Sobraske, adoption psychotherapist, New York

9B — Implications of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) powerfully influence how we respond to stress, our risk for disease and injury, and how we relate to the world around us. Across the generations, we also pass on biologic and genetic messages that may make life harder. Intergenerational adversity and ACEs can have lifelong impact on children and make parenting, parent engagement, and academic success more challenging. This session will provide an overview of the science of adaptation with examples of policy and practice changes informed by what we know about ACEs.
Dave Ellis, Dave Ellis Consulting, Minnesota

9C — Talking to Kids about Tough Stuff

Children do best when they know the truth about their lives. Sharing difficult information with children is not easy. This workshop will give you the tools to discuss the most challenging situations (such as abuse, parental incarceration, death, HIV, incest, termination of parental rights) to children of all ages. Please bring your challenging questions to the session. No topic is off limits!
Barry Chaffkin & Bryan Hill, LMSW, Fostering Change for Children, New York

9D — Fresh Tools for Challenging Behaviors

Kids with difficult histories often exhibit challenging behaviors like aggression, hoarding, and general irritability. Early trauma may wire a child’s brain for defensiveness and anxiety instead of connection and calm. In this interactive workshop, we will take a fresh look at this challenging topic with a playful take on the cutting-edge neuroscience that is bringing new life to stuck relationships. Come learn new skills to help your children reduce challenging behaviors.
Jessica Sinarski, LPCMH & Marylou Edgar, MSS, LCSW, A Better Chance for Our Children, Delaware

9G — Understanding What It Takes to Successfully Parent Older Youth Who Have Been Exposed to Trauma

CORE: Teen (Critical Ongoing Resource family Education) is a collaborative effort to develop state-of-the-art training to better equip resource parents to meet the needs of older youth who have moderate to serious emotional and behavior health challenges. Through delivery and analysis of a self-assessment survey the team has valuable information to share about the critical characteristics and competencies of successful resource families. Come hear about these findings and learn more about this new, comprehensive training resource that will be available throughout the U.S. in 2019.
Kim Stevens, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Vermont • Angelique Day, PhD, MSW, University of Washington School of Social Work

9J — The Urgency of Seeing Color in Adoption and Foster Care

Given the current climate in America surrounding differences in race, culture, and class it is more important than ever that families are hypervigilant about understanding the impact of these differences on transracially adopted persons and their extended families. This session will outline key areas of focus for parents and professionals, including the need for ongoing conversations about race and diversity, needed behavior changes, and creating a culture where families embrace the transracial adoption experience as a whole.
April Dinwoodie, Donaldson Adoption Institute, New York

9K — The Value of Digital Storytelling for Youth in and from Care

This workshop will discuss the value of engaging youth in and from care in digital storytelling. Using examples of digital storytelling made by youth across Canada, we will discuss the impact on participants of creating these short films about their experiences with foster care, adoption, and aging out of care as well as how they are using their personal stories in advocacy and training with potential foster/adoptive parents, social workers, educators, decision-makers, legislators, and policy makers.
Laura Eggertson, Tabitha McDonald, & Alisha Bowie, Adoption Council of Canada, Ontario

9M — DNA Tests and Adoption in the Digital Age

Sarah Reid, Adoptive Families Association of British Columbia

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The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) supports, educates, inspires, and advocates so adoptive families thrive and every child in foster care has a permanent, safe, loving family.


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