Session 5 – 2015 Conference Speakers

3:30 pm–4:30 pm

5A - The Nuts and Bolts of Adoption and Reproductive Technology (BP, FP, PP, WP)
Shelley Ballard, Attorney, Ballard Desai & Miller

 This workshop will present an overview of the domestic adoption process, both agency and private, and will address locating a child, costs, avoiding scams, openness, the interstate process, the Indian Child Welfare Act, birth father rights, the Putative Father Registry, insurance coverage, reproductive options (egg, sperm, and embryo donation as well as surrogacy) and recent changes to adoption law.

Shelley Ballard is an adoptive parent and attorney at Ballard Desai & Miller ( who practices only adoption and reproductive technology law.  She is a fellow of AAAA and AAARTA, guardian ad litem for children in Cook County Adoption Court, and adjunct professor at Loyola Law School and is recognized as a top lawyer by the Leading Lawyers Network.

5B - Figuring Out Special Needs (APro, FP, PP, WP)
Todd Ochs, MD, Ravenswood Pediatrics

It seems like adoptive parents are being forced into the special needs queue, both domestically and internationally – or is it that all children in the adoption queue are really special needs children?  How can we look at potential needs and figure out whether we can parent a particular child?

Todd Ochs, MD, of Ravenswood Pediatrics ( has been a general pediatrician in Chicago since 1984.  He began working with adoptive families in 1997, during the adoption of his first Chinese daughter.  Since then, he has seen over a thousand internationally adopted children in his practice and adoption clinic and has adopted three more special needs daughters from China.  Todd has spoken on international adoption both nationally and globally and has advocated for adopted and fostered children with public and private schools concerning adoption health and mental health issues, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

5C - Trauma-Informed Care (AP to all ages, FP, PP, WP)
Kathryn Herrera, LCSW & Daiva Piscikaite, MSW, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago

This 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, LCSW, is the adoption program supervisor for Catholic Charities (, where she has worked for 20 years.  Her adoption-related experience includes coordinating international adoption programs, counseling birthparents, providing home studies and adoption education for prospective adoptive parents, and providing and supervising post-placement support and counseling for adoptive parents and families. 
Daiva Piscikaite, MSW, is an adoption social worker at Catholic Charities (  She has been working in the field of adoption since 2007 supporting families and children throughout their adoption journey.  Daiva earned both a BSW and an MSW from Loyola University Chicago.  She completed TBRI® training program at TCU Institute of Child Development.
5D - Chores and Self-Concept: Raising a Powerful Child (AP to all ages, APro, BP, FP)
Kelvin Gott, Consultant

Self-concept determines everything your child will try and most of his or her success in school, society, and life.  The proper use of chores has major influence on the development of a strong self-concept and is vital to the growth of your child.  This presentation teaches you how to do it.

Kelvin Gott is a dynamic speaker and consultant sharing stories from his 35-year teaching career and the experiences of parents he has consulted in his more than 400 presentations all around the Midwest.  His insights into parenting, and now grandparenting, will make you laugh while they introduce you to the science and art of raising a healthy and powerful child from infancy through adolescence.  A father of four girls and grandfather to 3.6, Kel has been married for 32 years and has taught, coached, and mentored for 35 years.  He is a trained instructor in Parenting With Love and Logic.

5E - How to Adopt a Child without Losing Yourself (APro, FP, PP, WP)
Jenilyn Gilbert, Owner, One Way or A Mother

From your first appointment to the finalization of your adoption, this workshop identifies mindful strategies for adoptive parents to gracefully navigate the entire adoption process.  Tools will be shared on how to look beyond the logistical marathon of papers, trainings, and appointments to the emotional journey within.  A group meditation will be facilitated along with creative solutions on how to best care for yourself along the way.

Jenilyn Gilbert, owner of One Way or A Mother (, is a licensed clinical social worker, certified yoga instructor, and newly adoptive mother.  She is an independent consultant who provides coaching services focused on fertility and adoption using mindfulness techniques.  She also leads fertility and adoption support groups along with seasonal yoga workshops.

5F - Siblings Through Adoption: A Family Journey (AP to all ages, APro, BP, FP, PP, WP)
Carmen Knight, MS, MFT, Adoption Counselor & Liesl Einerson, LCSW, Adoption Therapist, The Cradle

Whether you are somewhere in the adoption process or already parenting, this workshop is for you.  You will gain insight and applicable resources to help navigate the complex relationships between siblings, whether they are birth or adoptive.  Presenters will share their professional and personal experiences of being a sibling through adoption.  They will share why it is important to maintain sibling connections and suggest how to navigate some of the challenges you might encounter.  They will also explore family relationship dynamics with transitioning a new child into the family.  There will be a Q&A at the end of the workshop.

Carmen Knight is an international transracial adoptee from Peru.  Her work in the adoption community includes working at culture camps, giving seminars, speaking on panels, and supporting families emotionally as they conduct birth family searches and reunions.  She has also worked with families and children as a therapist.  Carmen currently is an adoptive parent counselor at The Cradle (
Liesl Einerson provides counseling to anyone touched by adoption and facilitates adoption education and support groups through The Center for Lifelong Adoption Support at The Cradle (  She is an adoptive sister and has experience with foster care, open adoption, special needs, and international, transracial, and kinship adoption.  Liesl has a certificate in advanced therapy with foster and adoptive families.