Session 4 – Conference Speakers

Session 4A: How to Begin Your Adoption Journey

DENISE PATTON, Attorney, Law Office of Denise J. Patton

In this workshop you will learn the differences between an Agency Adoption, an Independent Adoptions and an Identified Adoption. You will get an overview of how parental rights are terminated in the state of Illinois and gain understanding as to what the legal risks of adoption are and what you can do to protect yourself legally and emotionally. We will briefly discuss interstate adoptions and tips for choosing an adoption agency. Finally you will receive information on the Adoption Tax Credits (IL and Federal).

Denise J. Patton is an adoptive parent and adoption attorney who, for over 21 years, has devoted her law practice to adoption and infertility law issues. Denise is a member and past Chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Adoption Law Committee and she is also a fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys. As an adoption attorney, Denise has successfully completed approximately two thousand adoptions. She has presented at numerous adoption conferences over the years and conducted seminars educating prospective adoptive parents on the different types of adoptions, the adoption process, how to get started and the financial benefits available to adoptive parents to help make adoption more affordable. Prior to receiving her law degree from DePaul University, Denise was employed as an Adoption Specialist for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. In this capacity she monitored, assisted, trained and educated private agencies on the adoption process.


Session 4B: Adoption in School

Lindsay Weinberg, Adoption Specialist, Adoption Center of Illinois

Teresa Bernu, Domestic Programs Supervisor, Adoption Center of Illinois

From daycare to high school, families and service providers should think about how they can advocate for adoption sensitivity in the school setting. This presentation will address topics including positive adoption language, adoption-sensitive curriculum, and multicultural awareness in schools. Additionally, we will recommend adoption-related books and resources. Audience participation will be encouraged.

Lindsay Weinberg, JD, LCSW, has been with the Adoption Center of Illinois since September of 2016. In her current role at ACI, Lindsay conducts initial interviews of prospective adoptive parents and oversees the agency’s education and training curriculum and programs. Lindsay earned her B.A. from the University of Michigan, her J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law, and her MSW from Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work. Lindsay’s prior work experience includes her role as the DCFS Post Adoption and Subsidized Guardianship Court Liaison at the Center for Law and Social Work and an Advocate Supervisor at Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Cook County.

Teresa Bernu first joined ACI as a Home Study Worker in February 2017, and later transitioned into the role of Domestic Program Supervisor in October 2017. Prior to joining ACI, she worked at the Center for Law and Social Work as an Adoption Social Worker, and later as the DCFS Post Adoption and Subsidized Guardianship Court Liaison. Originally from Minnesota, Teresa attended St. Cloud State University and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Social Work degree. Following undergrad, she spent two years as a volunteer caregiver in a Mexican orphanage, caring for the 6-9 year old boys. Upon returning to the US, she continued her studies at Loyola University Chicago, and graduated in 2014 with a Master of Social Work degree. Teresa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and oversees the Domestic Home Study services.


Session 4C: What is TBRI and How can it Help My Family

Rebecca MacDougall, LCSW, Director of Bethany Christian Services of Illinois
Alison Lasma

TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable and at-risk children. TBRI is a therapeutic model that trains caregivers to provide effective support and treatment for at-risk children. TBRI has been applied in orphanages, courts, residential treatment facilities group homes, foster and adoptive homes churches, and schools. It has been used effectively with children and youth of all ages and all risk levels. This presentation, through video and lecture, will introduce you to the TBRI Empowering Principles to address physical needs, Connecting Principles for attachment needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. While the intervention is based on years of attachment, sensory processing, and neuroscience research, the heartbeat of TBRI is connection. The application of TBRI provides tools to enable parents and staff to meet the urgent needs of their children through connection.

Rebecca MacDougall, LCSW has been working with birth and adoptive families for 35 years and personally facilitated over 400 adoptions and developed education and mediation in open adoption. She and her family are living open adoption. Rebecca has been the Director of Bethany Christian Services of Illinois since 2010. She is a contributing author of Thriving as an Adoptive Family, published by FOTF. She is a TBRI practitioner. Rebecca is passionate about Bethany’s vision of every child having a loving family.


Session 4D: The Impact and Family Dynamics on Foster Care and Adoption Choices

Marietta Hummons, Hummons Consulting

This workshop will explore the impact of adoption and foster care on family dynamics from the perspectives of individuals touched by adoption. The panel will lead a discussion on ways to bridge the gap between professionals and those impacted by the above situations discussing best practices based on the experiences of those involved. We will discuss the impact of open and closed adoptions, aging out in the foster care system, the range of emotions often associated with adoption and foster care placement, and strategies for overcoming the impact of emotions often associated with separation from a birth family.

Marietta Hummons is married and an adoptive mother of two children adopted as infants, a daughter who is now twenty years old, and a son now seventeen. She is also the author of “An Expected End”, an adoption story that focuses on the birth, life, and successful reunion with members of her daughter’s birth family. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education and has over 35 years of experience as an educator working with children ranging from ages preschool to high school, and with adult learners. She is a member of the American Adoption Congress and presented last year on children and family dynamics including the National Education of the Association of Young Children and other National and Local Early Childhood Conferences.


Session 4E: Strong Enough to Bend

Trish Jonker, Strong Enough to Bend, www.trishjonker.com

Traditional parenting techniques will most likely not work with your adopted child so we need to be flexible. If you are considering inviting a child with a tough past into your home, or if you are already in the middle of it, this workshop will provide education on the effects of in utero and early childhood trauma, as well as practical trauma informed parenting strategies you can use in your home & community.

For over ten years Trish has had the privilege of working with hundreds of clients as a licensed counselor (LCPC). She has a masters degree in counseling psychology and certification in the treatment of child trauma. She loved working with these families, but then at the age of 40, this single, white Canadian girl moved in with her best friend Roy, became foster parents and over the past five years they have invited 7 brothers and sisters to join them. She’s been there. She’s living it today. She’s not perfect, but with a glass of wine and a bit of chocolate, she’s doing the best she can through the pain & joy of parenting their children.


Session 4F: 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 provides therapy for individuals and families. She is passionate about building connections between people. Kay has extensive experience with attachment issues. She specializes in working with adopted children and their families. Kay uses a combination of approaches, including: Theraplay, Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, Trust Based Relational Intervention, Brain Gym, EMDR, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Kay also does public speaking about adoption and parenting issues. She has 4 young adult children, 2 by birth and 2 by adoption.


Session 4G: For Dads Only

Jason Bentsen, Executive Director, LoveMoves.Us

This session will be a panel discussion of dads from all types of adoption & foster care – international, domestic & foster care. Hear from other men the challenges and joys of being a dad to vulnerable children.

Jason is an adoptive parent to two beautiful children and grew up in the Chicago area. He received his degree in youth ministry and adolescent studies from Judson University in Elgin, IL. After spending time in various youth ministries and church plants, Jason saw an enormous need for support in the foster & adoptive community. LoveMovesUs began to come alongside foster & adoptive families in their parenting journey. He is a Trust-Based Relational Intervention Practitioner and an Empowered to Connect parent trainer. Jason is passionate to engage people in serving the foster & adoptive community & to bring men’s voices to the forefront of caring for vulnerable children. Jason & his wife, Cheryl, reside in Joliet, IL.​