Session 5 – Conference Speakers

Session 5A: Let’s Talk about Open Adoption

Ashley Mitchell, Birthmother, Speaker, Owner of Lifetime Healing

Are you thinking about an open adoption, currently in an open adoption, or just struggling to figure out how to navigate a complex relationship with your child’s birth family?  Birth mother, Ashley Mitchell, is a spunky and vulnerable truth teller and educator. She’ll share some important tips for navigating an open adoption and will host an “anything goes” time of Q and A for those seeking answers or support.

Ashley Mitchell, owner of Lifetime Healing, set out to seek increased care, understanding, and resources for birth mothers.  For almost a decade, Ashley has been one of the most consistent and sought after birth mother voices in the nation.  Well known for her vulnerability and transparency in adoption, her story has touched the hearts of countless members of the adoption community.


Session 5B: Assessing Attachment Readiness and Supporting Families Through Attachment Challenges: What Works Best?

Kathryn Herrera, Adoption Program Manager, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago

This session will provide some resources and a suggested framework, as well as providing a forum for adoption home study providers and clinicians to share common challenges and strategies for overcoming them.

Kathryn Herrera is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and is the Adoption Program Manager for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago; she has worked for Catholic Charities for 24 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.


Session 5C: Theraplay: A Therapeutic Intervention Using Attachment Based Play for Adoptive Families

Sam Bunnyfield, Child and Family Therapist, The Theraplay Institute

Theraplay® is a child and family modality of play therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. Rated as “effective” by the SAMHSA National Registry for Evidences – Based Programs and Practices, it is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child and is personal, physical, and fun. Theraplay interactions focus on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: Structure, Engagement, Nurture, and Challenge. Theraplay sessions create an active, emotional connection between the child and parent or caregiver, resulting in a changed view of the self as worthy and lovable and of relationships as positive and rewarding. Theraplay helps you create an atmosphere where children are happy to come to therapy and become quickly and fully engaged in the therapeutic process. Theraplay also involves the parents in an immediate and positive way, giving them experiences of success and pride in their children so they can feel motivated to support them. With the child, the parent and you all on the same team, you have a winning combination for positive and lasting change. This program is designed to provide mental health professionals, pre and post adoption workers, and families an overview of the Theraplay model.

Attendees will view case material, participate in discussion, and engage in interactive play based activities.

Sam Bunnyfield, LCSW, Registered Play Therapist is a Certified Theraplay® Therapist, Trainer, and Supervisor with extensive experience working with children and families who have experienced acute and chronic trauma. Sam has worked for the past six years as a Child and Family therapist in Evanston, Chicago, and Kansas City, MO working with children, teenagers, and adults. She has a particular passion for working with foster and adoptive families impacted by the trauma of attachment insecurities. In addition, to running her own private practice in Chicago, she is the Clinic Manager and Outreach Liaison at the Theraplay Institute in Evanston, IL. She is also a Core Field Consultant for The University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. Sam utilizes a variety of therapeutic modalities to best meet the client’s needs including Theraplay, EMDR techniques, non-directive play therapy, art therapy and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy. Sam earned undergraduate degrees in Women’s Studies and History at the University of Kansas and later earned a Master’s degree in Social Welfare, also from the University of Kansas. Prior to entering the field of clinical social work, Sam was an early childhood educator for several years. Sam is best reached at sam@theraplay.org


Session 5D: Adoption from the Foster Care System, Illinois and Beyond

Jane Turner, Executive Director, Adoption Center of Illinois

Although there are thousands of children in care waiting to be adopted, adoption from the foster care system can seem an overwhelming process with many false starts and dead ends. It doesn’t have to be that way! There are a handful of Illinois agencies willing to support hopeful adoptive parents with this process, allowing them to be considered for children anywhere in the US. Come learn more! Lots of time will be provided to answer your questions.

Jane Turner is the Executive Director or Adoption Center of Illinois at Family Resource Center in Chicago IL and has over 29 years’ experience in the field of adoption. Beginning as a Home Study worker with Family Resource Center in 1990, Jane has been involved in every and all aspects of adoption at the agency. She served as Home Study Services Coordinator, International Adoption Coordinator and Associate Director. She has served as the Executive Director of Adoption Center of Illinois at Family Resource Center since the autumn of 2016.

Jane was born and raised in New Jersey and is a proud alumni of Virginia Tech (1979) and the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (1982). She has been an Illinois licensed social worker since 1982. She has presented at local and national symposiums and conferences and been a guest speaker at Loyola Law School and the Chicago Bar Association.


Session 5E: Heeling From the Inside Out

Jeanna Osborn, Canine Therapy Director, Calo Programs

With the assistance of Calo canine Leia we will cover the what, where, why and how Animal Assisted Therapy utilizing canines helps heel the adverse effects of childhood trauma.

Jeanna Osborn is a Certified Instructor with the Global Kennel Club (GKC), American Kennel Club, Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), Certified Council of Pet Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and certified with Therapy Dog International (TDI). She has years of experience handling and training dogs with the U.S. Military and Missouri Law Enforcement. Her experience has offered her the opportunity to work with wolves, exotic cats like cougars, panthers and bobcats. Jeanna’s desire to work with youth and animals brought her to CALO in 2008. This is where she developed the world’s first canine foster and adoption program to support the experience of Transferable Attachment with young people. When she’s not playing with Calo dogs and kiddo’s, Jeanna enjoys horseback riding, kayaking, wearing cowboy boots, and spending time with her children and grandchildren.


Session 5F: Secondary Trauma: Identification and Self Care for Parents, Caregivers, Family Members and Therapists Working with Attachment Insecurity, PTSD, and other Childhood Trauma

Elba Karim, Director, Roots and Wings Counseling Consultatns, LLC

Being the primary supprt through parenting, being a family member to, or working as a clinician with attachment insecure children and/or youth or other childhood trauma, is a journey of endurance. Helping children deal with trauma can itself be traumatizing to those who are in these vital supportive roles. Being exposed to the effects of primary trauma, as siblings and family members, also effects relationships and functioning Learn about the signs of increased stress and/or secondary trauma.

Discuss ways in which to alleviate the impact, while still providing for the needs of the traumatized child(ren). Leave with concrete ideas to better care for parents, caregivers, family members, and/or professionals for children struggling with childhood trauma, thereby better supporting the children themselves.

Elba J. Karim is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional with over 25 years of experience. Elba is a member of the Illinois Children’s Justice Task Force and numerous professional organizations. She is trained in the principles of Theraplay and Trust Based Relationship Intervention, Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Attachment Focused Family Therapy, and Attachment Focused Parenting, as well as being certified as an Extended Forensic Interviewer. She believes in providing services that are evidence-based and trauma-informed. She uses a collaborative approach that attends to the family and systems of which her clients are a part. She provides consultation and training to educational systems, the judicial system, faith-based organizations, CASA, adoption networks, Children’s Advocacy Centers, and other community partners. She has a special interest in supporting children with Reactive Attachment Disorder, attachment insecurity, complex developmental trauma, foster and adoptive parents, LGBTQ individuals and families, as well as children and youth who are exploring sexual orientation and/or identity. Elba also provides trauma response services to the community and child welfare, including school shootings, witnesses and intended victims of murder, and other high profile highly complex trauma cases. She is the mother of four children (including one who joined the family through adoption) in a multi-racial family. She is the founder of Roots and Wings Counseling Consultants, LLC in St. Charles, Illinois.

Session 5G: The Benefits of Yoga for All Families

** Please note that the title of this session is listed as 5G.  Family Yoga.  **

Bridgette Glickman, MSW, Yogini

This interactive workshop will feature an introduction to Family Yoga Practices and Family Yoga Therapy. The focus will be on the holistic benefits of Yoga for children and adults individually, as well as how families can work together in a therapeutic Yoga environment.

Bridgette has decades of experience in child welfare, child care, communications, consulting, and community engagement in human services industries.   Bridgette began her career with DCFS over 20 years as an Adoption Specialist, was the Director of the Wednesday’s Child Program, and most recently the Director of Community Outreach. She has also worked with Adoption Attorney Michelle Hughes’ Bridge Communications as a Transracial Adoption Trainer for over 15 years.

Additionally, Bridgette has over 15 years of experience as an inspiring functional/structural yoga/fitness instructor with energy, knowledge and commitment to long-term health and well-being.  Currently she is pursuing certification as Yoga Therapist – seeking to integrate her vast experience in both fields.

Bridgette has a BS in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University, MSW from Loyola University, and is currently enrolled in the Yoga Therapist Program at Innerpeace School of Yoga Therapy. 

In 2015 Bridgette became a licensed Foster Parent and has Adopted her now 3 year old daughter!