Session 1 – Conference Speakers

Session 1a: Domestic Adoption – A Master Class: Covering the Basics and Beyond
Rebecca Gruenspan, Adoption Consultant, RG Adoption Consulting

Rebecca Gruenspan, founder of RG Adoption Consulting, will help you understand what it takes to realize your dream of “having a baby” through domestic agency adoption. She will walk you through the process and answer your most pressing questions such as: * Will I get chosen if: I’m single, gay, already have children, over 40? * How long does the adoption process take? * How do I find the right agency? * Is it possible to adopt a healthy baby? * Open adoption – what does it mean and what if the birth mother changes her mind? …and more! It’s not your typical Adoption 101.

Rebecca Gruenspan, MSW, is Founder and Chief Consultant of RG Adoption Consulting. A single adoptive parent herself, Rebecca works with prospective adoptive parents to educate, guide and be a hand to hold through the domestic adoption process. She also has years of experience as a therapist, fundraiser, event planner, presenter and mentor.


Session 1b: International Adoption – is it still a viable option?
Jane Turner, Executive Director, Adoption Center of Illinois at Family Resource Center

Presenter will provide an overview of the process to adopt internationally and look at the current state of international adoption including the most recent available statistics. Discussion will include eligibility criteria, the need for a Primary Provider, viable options, and potential roadblocks and many useful tips. Presenter will encourage questions from the audience.

Jane has been with Adoption Center of Illinois at Family Resource Center since January of 1990, when she began as one of the organization’s first home study workers. She holds a master’s degree in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago and is a licensed social worker. Over the years Jane has been involved in all aspects of the agency; Domestic Adoption, International Adoption and has a leadership role in the agency’s burgeoning Post-Adoption Services Program. She is proud to serve as a Hague evaluator for the Council on Accreditation since 2008. Jane has served as the agency’s Executive Director since October 2016.


Session 1c: Trauma Informed Care
Kathryn Herrera, Adoption Program Supervisor, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago
Daiva Piscikaite, Adoption Specialist, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago

Session will provide foster and adoptive parents a framework to better understand how trauma impacts the chemistry of a child’s developing brain, and how they can help meet the complex needs of children who have experienced loss, neglect, abuse or other traumatic events. Suggestions for changes that can be implemented at home will include a general overview of Trust-Based Relational Interventions® (TBRI®) an attachment-centered, trauma-informed intervention, specifically designed for children who come from the “hard places” of maltreatment, abuse, neglect, multiple home placements, and violence. Participants will also be encouraged to advocate for more trauma informed school settings, and will learn about some of the evidence-based clinical treatment modalities that have been found effective for children and adolescents.

Kathryn Herrera is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and is the Adoption Program Supervisor for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago; she has worked for Catholic Charities for more than 20 years. Kathryn’s adoption related experience includes coordinating international adoption programs, counseling young birthparents, providing home studies and adoption education for prospective adoptive parents, and post placement support and counseling for adoptive parents and families.

Daiva Piscikaite, MSW, is an adoption social worker at Catholic Charities of Chicago. She has been working in the field of adoption since 2007 supporting families and children throughout their adoption journey. Daiva received Bachelor and Master of Social Work degrees from Loyola University Chicago and is a TBRI Practitioner through the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development.


Session 1d: Adoption Ages and Stages
Mandy Jones LCSW, JD, Adoption Therapist, The Cradle

Parenting is hard! Adoptive parenting can be even harder! As our kids develop, they learn new skills and gain different perspectives. Their questions and thoughts about adoption change as they do. This workshop will help decipher adoption-related issues that arise based upon stages of development. It will also provide you with strategies for responding to and supporting your child, from birth into adulthood.

Mandy has worked almost exclusively with adoptive and foster families since she began her career. A certified Theraplay® therapist, she takes a particular interest in helping families with young children form strong attachments and work through sensory concerns. Mandy is also experienced in helping adopted individuals with identity, loss, and anxiety concerns throughout their lifespan. Through her legal work, Mandy has advocated for children in the child welfare system. She also uses her legal knowledge and advocacy skills to help families gain Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and other essential resources for their children. Mandy earned her BA in Political Science and her BS in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. She earned her Master of Clinical Social Work and Juris Doctorate from Michigan State University.


Session 1e: Helping adoptees navigate social conflict and drama
Carrie Goldman, Award-winning author and speaker, CarrieGoldmanAuthor.com

Continue the conversation with our Keynote Speaker Carrie Goldman! At this breakout session, Carrie will lead an interactive session titled “Helping adoptees navigate social conflict and drama.” People considering adoption or those that have already adopted will find this session candid and useful.

Carrie Goldman is an award-winning author and speaker, having written for The New York Times, CNN, Psychology Today, Huffington Post, Brain Child Magazine, Adoption.net, Babble, Alternet, and more. She has made appearances on NPR, BBC, MSNBC, CNN Headline News, Fox, HLN, HuffPost Live and Mondays with Marlo, along with countless other media outlets. In addition to her expertise in bullying dynamics, Carrie writes one of the nation’s premier adoption blogs, Portrait of an Adoption, which has followers in more than 45 countries. Her acclaimed children’s book, Jazzy’s Quest: Adopted and Amazing, came out in June of 2015. Her latest book, Jazzy’s Quest: What Matters Most (Volume 2) was just released in November 2016.


Session 1f: What the Child’s Heart Longs For: Seeing Beneath the Behavior
Kay Holler, LCSW, Private practice

Am I being played? What does my child really need? These are common questions faced by all parents of misbehaving children. This interactive seminar will explore the fears, needs, and longings of our children, and how they sometimes come out sideways. We will talk about how to become playful detectives …. engaging our children, understanding their feelings and inner lives, and re-directing them. Come prepared to share your stories and strategies.

Kay has been working in the adoption field for 27 years. She worked for a large social service agency from 1990-1997. Since then, she has been providing therapy in a private practice setting for adoptees and their families. Kay is passionate about building connections between family members. She also enjoys leading interactive seminars on the topics of adoption and parenting. Kay is the mother of four grown children; two of her children are internationally adopted.