Session 3 – Conference Speakers

Session 3a: Beyond Openness – A New Paradigm For Understanding Adoption
Richard Pearlman, Senior Consultant, LCSW (formerly agency Executive Director), Adoption Center of Illinois at Family Resource Center

This presentation introduces a new way of looking at adoption through the lens of family systems and extended family networks. The talk examines the history and evolution of adoption and the reasons for the emergence of a new adoption paradigm. The ‘closed adoption’ and ‘open adoption’ paradigms are examined within the context of what led to them and where they fall short. This talk is largely based on presentations given at previous professional conferences where the ideas have been very well received. The presentation walks through a well developed outline (including graphic representations) that encourages participants to examine their own beliefs and to consider rethinking ideas they already have. The ideas are presented from a family systems orientation and presents a wholly new way of conceptualizing and thinking about adoption. The presentation is well suited for lay people and professionals alike. The presentation concludes with a brief period of Q&A. A slide (LED) show accompanies the talk.

Richard Pearlman, LCSW Is a senior consultant with Adoption Center of Illinois at Family Resource Center, a Chicago based licensed child welfare agency. He is one of the agency’s founders and served as its executive director for 28 years before retiring in the fall of 2016. He has been involved with the field of adoption since 1982 and has been a witness the fields’ evolution. Richard is has a ‘family systems’ orientation and in addition to his work in adoption he has a background in family therapy. He has participated, either directly or indirectly, in several thousand domestic and international adoptions. In retirement Richard is dedicating more time to developing theoretical and philosophical ideas. Starting more than 15 years ago Richard began developing theoretical constructs examining changes in the adoption paradigms that shape how individuals and society view adoption. He has developed a new adoption paradigm that looks at adoption through the lens of extended family networks. He has presented his ideas about this “new adoption paradigm” to NCFS, AAAA national conference and at the Chicago Association for Psychoanalytic Psychology conference in May 2015.


Session 3b: International Adoption 101
Jane Lee, Country Program Manager, Children’s Home & Lutheran Social Service of MN

Each year thousands of children join their family through international adoption from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean. Who are the children? How old are they? What are their needs? What countries are currently placing? What is the process? How much does it cost? How long does it take? Do I qualify? When you leave this workshop you will know the answers to these questions! While the landscape of international adoption is constantly changing, children of all ages still need families.


Session 3c: The Four T’s of Transracial Adoption and Foster Care
Krista Woods, M.S.W., LCSW, CEO, Integrity Clinical Consulting & Training
Katy Perkins, LMSW-AP, Kingsman Consulting, LLC

In this highly interactive workshop, participants will learn how to TAKE STOCK in their lives as it relates to race; how to have TIMELY discussions with children and teens around race; how to be TRUTHFUL around race issues; and finally, how families can TRANSCEND the challenges of being a transracial adoptive/foster family to become stronger and healthier families! There will be time for Q & A with participants.

Krista Woods, M.S.W., LCSW, (formerly McCoy) is therapist in IL and has been conference presenter and trainer on issues of foster care, adoption, child abuse and neglect since 1993. She is the founder and CEO of Integrity Clinical Consulting & Training; which provides clinical therapy services to individuals, families and children; and training and consulting across the US. She is a highly respected leader and speaker and writer on issues of foster care, adoption, and mental illness; in addition to racial, multicultural issues and ethics issues in social services. Krista’s work in various direct practice and leadership roles in child welfare, mental health and managed care spans over 20 years. She has been granted several awards by the Cook County Juvenile Court for her outstanding testimony, leadership, and advocacy on behalf of children and families. For the past 18 years, Krista has also presented for Bridge Communications, which trains prospective adoptive parents on transracial and multicultural and adoption issues.

Katy Perkins, LMSW-AP, is a Licensed Master Social Worker- Advanced Practitioner and has provided training and educational sessions about adoption, sexual assault, cultural competency and other topics for more than fifteen years. She is a founding Board Member of Support Texas Adoptee Rights (STAR) and has served as a member of the Board of Directors of American Adoption Congress and the Texas Coalition for Adoption Resources & Education. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers (Dallas Branch Steering Committee), the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, and Adoption Knowledge Affiliates, for which she recently started the first Dallas chapter. In private practice at Kingsman Consulting, LLC, Katy connects people separated from their families of origin with search resources and support, provides education to individuals considering adopting, and both professional and community trainings. Katy is committed to bridging social justice movements and advocating for marginalized populations. She is currently a hospice Social Worker, having previously worked at rape crisis centers coordinating prevention and educational programming.


Session 3d: The Blue Sausage and Other Silly Games: Using Play to Connect with Your Children
Kay Holler, LCSW, Private practice

This seminar is totally hands on and interactive. You will not fall asleep! Come explore creative ways to use common household objects (such as newspapers, aluminum foil, and cotton balls) to increase joy, connection, and fun in your family. Learn the importance of eye contact, touch, voicetone, laughter, and singing. See how interactive play is as important as discipline in raising a healthy child.

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.


Session 3e: Nature, Nurture, Self: Talking with Adopted Kids about Identity Formation
Judy Stigger, Adoption Therapist & Educator, Self-employed

“I am not like my adoptive parents. They are smart and orderly, and I am not. So I will probably end up like my real mom. She got pregnant at 16, so I might as well get it over with.” reported a teen client as she explained why her mother had brought her to my counseling. “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” Or “Blood is thicker than water.” were more old fashion expressions of similar sentiments. “You can be anything you want to be if you just try hard enough” simply is not true. But neither is the concept that ones fate is sealed by ones genetics. How do we talk with our children about the impact of their genetic characteristics—some more welcome than others, about the influence of our family on their character, and about the power of the choices they make in shaping who they will become? In this presentation, we will consider: • What we know from our own childhoods, • What science has to tell us about the influence of nature vs nurture, • And then consider approaches and discussion tools for interacting around these complex issues with our kids as they progress through the developmental stages of childhood. We will hear from adopted persons through brief video clips and, perhaps, the participation of attendees.

Judy Stigger, LCSW, is a therapist serving adoptive, foster or birth families in IL with offices in Oak Park and Evanston. She also presents at regional and national conferences, and offers training to families and professionals. A licensed clinical social worker, Judy previously directed international adoption programs supervised domestic adoption with focus on understanding open adoption conceived of and creates content for www.AdoptionLearningPartners.org, has spoken on television and radio programs such as NPR & BBC, and been quoted in various newspapers including the New York Times and Chicago Tribune, keynoted /presented at regional, state, and national conferences—and once in France, authored a book, Coping with Infertility, plus various chapters and articles, served on the Editorial Advisory Boards of the Adoptive Families Magazine, was president of the Board of Joint Council on International Children’s Services, received a Congressional “Angel in Adoption” award in 2000. Judy and her husband are the adoptive parents of two now-grown, cross-racially placed children who survived educational challenges, and grandparents of four—two of whom live with them. She shares what she has been taught over the years by colleagues, clients and her own children.


Session 3f: Parenting the TBRI® Way! (Trust Based Relational Intervention®)
Pam Shepard LCSW, Supervisor of Clinical Services, Holt-Sunny Ridge Children’s Services

Pam is a TBRI® Educator and will present an overview of Trust Based Relational Intervention® developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross at the Texas Christian University Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development. TBRI is: • A holistic intervention that has been developed over the past decade. • An evidence based practice that meets the needs of the “whole child”. • An approach to caregiving that is developmentally respective, responsive to trauma and attachment based. • TBRI® is effective because it is founded in research and theory about how optimal development should have occurred. • By applying the principles, TBRI® helps a child or youth return to a natural developmental trajectory.

Pam provides individual, family and group therapy for anyone connected with adoption. She has experience working with anxiety, depression, defiant behavior, attention deficit/hyperactivity, post-traumatic stress disorder, abandonment, grief, and loss issues. Pam specializes in common issues connected with adoption such as trauma, attachment and identity issues. She is trained in Theraplay®, Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy and is a Trust Based Relational Intervention ® Practitioner and Educator (ID # TE161). She also assists families with the pre and post educational aspects of adoption. Pam has worked in the child welfare field since 1996 with experience in foster care, domestic and international adoptions, and birthparent counseling. Prior to joining Holt-Sunny Ridge in January of 2011, Pam was employed as an adoption preservation therapist. Pam has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Olivet Nazarene University and a master’s of social work degree from Dominican University. She is a licensed clinical social worker and a Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO and United Healthcare provider for behavioral health services.