Meet The Experts

Ira Chasnoff, M.D.

President of the Children's Research Triangle

Ira J. Chasnoff, M.D., is one of the nation's leading researchers in the field of child development and the effects of maternal alcohol and drug use on the newborn infant and child. He is an award-winning author, researcher and lecturer, is President of the Children's Research Triangle and a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. Since 2002, Children's Research Triangle under Dr. Chasnoff's leadership has been working with the Centers for Disease Control as one of four national centers for research into innovative treatment for children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Dr. Chasnoff has served as the Chair of the National Medical Task Force on Methamphetamine, Children, and Families for the Congressionally authorized National Alliance on Model State Drug Laws and served as the Chair of the State Task Force on FASD for the State of Illinois. In November 2008, Dr. Chasnoff was appointed to the US Department of Health and Human Services' Interagency Coordinating Council on FASD.

Dr. Chasnoff has authored seven books including: Drugs, Alcohol, Pregnancy, and Parenting, Power Beyond Measure, Risk and Promise, and The Mystery of Risk. His most recent work focuses on community approaches to the integration of behavioral health services into primary health care for women and children and the occurrence of co-occurring mental health disorders in children who have been exposed to alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine, and other drugs.

Julian Davies, M.D.

Author
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Washington. Founder of adoptmed.org

Dr. Julian Davies is a Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington where he co-directs the Center for Adoption Medicine and works at the longest running FAS clinic in the courntry. His interest in foster care and adoption began in Russia, where he started a summer arts and clown camp for Russian orphans. He now has a pediatric practice where 2/3 of his patients were fostered or adopted. Dr. Davies also created an award-winning online resource for pediatrics and adoption adoptmed.org.

Patricia Dischler

Author and Speaker

Patricia is a nationally recognized speaker and author who inspires audiences with her creative ideas and presentations. Her personal story of placing her son in a ground breaking open adoption in 1985 and the lessons learned apply to all adoptions. Her book, Because I Loved You, has been hailed as a "roadmap to open adoption".

Patricia identifies key concepts that every adoptive parent can benefit from and helps parents, birth families and counselors find their own path to success by focusing on what is best for the child.

Sherrie Eldridge

Author
A twice-reunited adoptee, Sherrie Eldridge is a straight-shooting, transparent, and compassionate author, speaker, and trainer in the field of adoption. Her books are research-based, yet woven within are poignant messages pounded out on the anvil of her own adoptee heart. Her first book, Twenty Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed, is required reading by many adoption agencies and universities. She has also authored five other books. In 2010, Sherrie received the Congressional Angel in Adoption Award from the Honorable Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana. Sherrie has been married to Bob Eldridge for 47 years. They have 2 married daughters and six grandchildren.

Heather Forbes, LCSW

Author

Heather Forbes is the founder of the Beyond Consequences Institute. She is an internationally published author on the topics of raising children with difficult and severe behaviors, understanding the parent’s reactivity when challenged in the home, and self-development.

Forbes lectures, consults, and coaches parents throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia, with families in crisis working to create peaceful, loving families. She is passionate about supporting families by bridging the gap between academic research and "when the rubber hits the road" parenting. Much of her experience and insight on understanding trauma, disruptive behaviors, developmental delays, and adoption-related issues comes from her direct mothering experience of her two internationally adopted children.

Nina Friedman, LCSW

Author

Nina is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Post Adoption Counselor at The Cradle. She conducts adoption searches, facilitates reunions and provides counseling support.

Deborah Gray, MSW, MPA

Author
Founder of Nurturing Attachments

Deborah Gray specializes in the attachment, grief, and trauma issues of children in her practice, Nurturing Attachments. Her methods of working with children and families reflect her strong developmental and infant mental health perspective.

Her passion is to help families develop close, satisfying relationships. She has worked 20 years in children’s therapies. Deborah was the 2008 Henry W. Maier Practitioner in Residence at the School of Social Work at the University of Washington.

Deborah Gray is the author of two books, Nurturing Adoptions: Creating Resilience after Neglect and Trauma, 2007, and Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents, 2002, both published by Perspectives Press. Nurturing Adoptions was a 2008 award finalist for the Benjamin Franklin best professional book of the year. Deborah is on faculty for two post-graduate certificate programs in foster and adoption therapy.

Kevin Hofmann

Author and Speaker

Kevin Hofmann is the author of Growing Up Black in White, a memoir that shares, from the adoptee point of view, what it was like to grow up as a transracial adoptee.

He is also an accomplished writer and public speaker who has a passion for adoption, especially transracial adoption, and enjoys sharing from his experiences to help other adoptive families.

Kevin works in the field of child welfare as a recruiter for the Dave Thomas Foundation and Wendy's Wonderful Kids, finding permanent homes for foster children. Kevin has been interviewed on NPR and Nightline ABC and is quickly becoming a trusted voice in the adoption arena.

Dan Hughes, Ph.D.

Author

Dan Hughes, Ph.D. is a practicing clinical psychologist who specializes in the in the treatment of children and youth who have experienced abuse and neglect, childhood trauma and attachment disorganization.

Dr. Hughes received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Ohio University, with a clinical internship at the University of Rochester Medical School. He is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) and the Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children (ATTACh).

He has provided training and consultations to therapists, social workers and parents in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Dr. Hughes is the author of Facilitating Developmental Attachment (1997), Building the Bonds of Attachment, (2006) and Attachment-Focused Family Therapy (2007).

Arleta James, M.S., PCC

Author

Arleta James has been an adoption professional for fifteen years. She spent several years as a caseworker for the Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption Network placing foster children with adoptive families and she now works as a therapist providing services for attachment difficulties, childhood trauma and issues related to adoption. She was the 1999 Pennsylvania Adoption Professional of the Year. She is currently on staff at the Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio.

She is the author of the 2012 Jessica-Kingsley Publishers’ release Brothers and Sisters in Adoption: Helping Children Navigate Relationships When New Kids Join the Family.

Dana Ernest Johnson, M.D., Ph.D

Professor of Pediatrics at University of Minnesota
Co-founder of the International Adoption Clinic

Dr. Johnson earned his M.D., and a Ph.D. in Anatomy, served his internship and residency, and completed his neonatology fellowship at the University of Minnesota where he currently is Professor of Pediatrics, member of the Division of Neonatology and a faculty member in the Global Pediatrics Program.

Dr. Johnson co-founded the International Adoption Clinic in 1986. His research interests include the effects of early institutionalization on growth and development and the outcomes of internationally adopted children.

Dr. Johnson is an invited speaker worldwide, a Senior Research Fellow in the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and has authored over 200 scholarly works. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Joint Council for International Children's Services, Friend of Children Award from the North American council on Adoptable Children and the Harry Holt Award from Holt International.

He is also the father of a son adopted from India.

Pat Irwin Johnston, MS

Author
Pat Irwin Johnston, MS, is a member of a family touched by adoption (birth parent, adoptive parents and adoptees) over five generations and counting. She has been an infertility and adoption educator and advocate for over 35 years. She has authored several books, the most recent being Adopting: Sound Choices, Strong Families (2009) and Adoption Is a Family Affair! What Relatives and Friends Must Know (revised, 2012.) She retired at the end of 2011 as founding publisher of Perspectives Press: The Infertility and Adoption Publisher.

Steve Kalb

MSW, Presenter
Steve is an Adult Adoptee from the Midwest. He received his MSW in 2009 and is currently pursuing his Ph. D. in Social Work and Social Research focusing on Adoptee community empowerment models. He is the Director of Adoptee Services at Holt International. During his seven years at Holt, Steve has worked directly with hundreds of Adoptees through the Adoptee Camps and birth search counseling. He has presented at a number of adoption focused seminars/workshops and has participated in several adoptee panels throughout his time at Holt. He has seen the need for, and the benefit of, a strong Adoptee community; that experience guides his Adoptee advocacy work at Holt.

Gregory Keck, Ph.D

Founder and Director of the Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio

Gregory Keck is the founder and director of the Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio, where he specializes in working with children who have developmental trauma disorder, reactive attachment disorder and numerous other mental health difficulties.

Dr. Keck served on the board of ATTACh for nine years, two of which he served as president. He is also the co-author with Regina Kupecky, MAT, LSW of Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow (2009), Parenting Adoptive Adolescents (2009) and Adopting the Hurt Child: Hope for Families with Special Needs Kids (2009).

Amy Kenney

LCSW
Amy Kenney was born and raised in South Dakota. She was adopted in a closed adoption at four months old. Amy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over ten years of professional experience in adoption. She has worked with all members of the adoption circle and has experience with domestic, international, and special needs adoption.

Carrie Kitze

Founder and Publisher of EMK Press
Author

Carrie Kitze, an adoptive mother of two children from China, is the founder and publisher of EMK Press. She is active in adoption affairs and speaks at adoption events on the topics of Adoption Parenting 101, Parenting with Narratives, Lifebooks, Ceremonies and Rituals for Adoptive Families, and Discovering Differences, a workshop for Kindergarten through third graders.

She is a past regional Families with Children from China coordinator, and has written for Adoptive Families Magazine and Adoption Today. She is the author of We See the Moon, a book for connecting with not-present or unknown birthparents, and I Don't Have Your Eyes, a book that finds commonality on the inside when the outside looks different.

She was also the creator of Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections with Sheena Macrae and Jean MacLeod, an indispensable resource for adoptive families.

Carmen Knight

Teacher, Adoption Professional
Carmen holds a teaching license for Secondary Education (Social Science) with a Middle School Endorsement. She is also an Adoption Professional and a Marriage and Family Therapy Clinical Intern. Carmen has been working within the adoption field for the past 7 years. Her work includes: presenting at conferences and for various adoption agencies, working at adoptee/culture camps, helping families prepare to return to their child’s country of birth, and emotionally supporting families doing birth searches and reunions. Carmen works with families with children of various ages. Carmen is also an adopted person.

Regina Kupecky

LSW, Author, Adoption Trainer
Regina has worked in the field of adoption for over forty years. Currently she works with families with children with attachment disorder at The Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio (www.abcofohio.net). Regina also trains nationally and internationally on many adoption and attachment related topics. She is the co-author with Dr. Gregory C. Keck of Adopting the Hurt Child and Parenting The Hurt Child. Regina's services to children were recognized by the Ohio Department of Human Services in 1990 when she received the “Adoption Worker of the Year Award” She has also received a Triad Advocate award from Adoption Network and Sara Berman Speaker’s award from NACAC (North American Council on Adoptable Children). She has a Masters degree from John Carroll University.

Phyllis Laughlin, MA, LCPC

Clinical Director of Adoptive Parent Services at The Cradle Adoption Agency www.cradle.org

Phyllis Laughlin has been an adoption counselor at The Cradle Adoption Agency for over 10 years. She and her staff work with adoptive parents as they go through the home study process and accept placement. Phyllis works with families adopting domestically, internationally and special needs infants and children. She also facilitates training sessions to prepare prospective adoptive parents for adoption, including openness.

Tara Linh Leaman

Co-Founder and Vice President of AmerAsians Building Bridges Consulting, Author, Adopted Person

Tara is an African Vietnamese American transethnic adoptee, and knows well the challenges and successes of claiming more than one transformative experience. She is the Co-Founder and Vice President of AmerAsians Building Bridges consulting, which provides training and resources that enrich the lives of members of the adoption constellation and their allies. Her writings and presentations include The Power of Ambiguity, published in Adoption Today, and a keynote given at the National Press Club in Washington, DC entitled “Adoption in the Media: Why Context Matters.” She has worked internationally and nationally advancing social change, including service as deputy director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute, a teacher in Johannesburg, South Africa, and currently serves on the board of Holt International Children's Services, one of the nation’s oldest and largest child welfare agencies, and Holt International Foundation of China. Tara is a graduate of Cornell University and Georgetown University Law Center, and resides in the People's Republic of Brooklyn. Please feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

Dafna Lender, LCSW

LCSW and Certified Theraplay Therapist and Trainer
Dafna Lender, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker and is a Certified Theraplay Therapist and trainer. She is also a certified Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapist®. She holds the position of Training Director for The Theraplay® Institute. Dafna received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science at the University of Illinois and worked as a policy analyst in the Illinois State Senate. She earned a B.S.W. from Tel Aviv University and her M.S.W. from Yeshiva University in New York. Dafna has worked as a foster care case worker for specialized children and a therapist for children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and orphanage neglect. Dafna’s main area of interest is in children with serious psychological problems caused by histories of abuse, neglect, trauma and/or multiple placements. Dafna’s focus is children’s development of a secure attachment with their caregivers while resolving issues in their traumatic history. She has authored several chapters on both Theraplay techniques and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy.

Janet McDonald

Editor, Adoptive Mom

Janet McDonald and her husband, Steve, worked with the Gladney Center in Fort Worth, Texas, to adopt two children, from Russia in 1996. They were living in Connecticut at the time, and soon after moving to Northbrook, Illinois, in 2001 Janet became active in volunteer activities at The Cradle. In addition to many volunteer activities, Janet has been a member of the Board of Directors since December 2007.

She volunteered at her children’s schools through their high school years and currently volunteers with USO of Illinois. She also has coordinated support groups for parents of children and adults with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

Janet is a freelance editor specializing in cookbooks and fiction, and her hobbies include reading, cooking, knitting, and hiking.

Martha Osborne

Founder of Rainbowkids.com Adoption Advocacy.

Martha created RainbowKids.com Adoption Advocacy website in 1996 with the purpose of finding homes for children labeled "special needs". Martha is herself an adoptee and the mother of 5 children through adoption. Since its conception RainbowKids has grown into a trusted on-line advocacy force for international children needing families. Networking with over 70 adoption agencies and numberous advocacy groups and humanitatian organizations that share the same vision, RainbowKids has assisted over 11,000 children in finding their way home.

Marilyn Panichi

Executive Director of Adoptions Unlimited
Co-founder, Board Memeber and Treasurer of the Adoption Exchange Association

Marilyn has more than 40 years of adoption and child welfare experience in administration, supervision and casework, and is the Executive Director of Adoptions Unlimited. Prior to establishing Adoptions Unlimited, Ms. Panichi was the Executive Director of the Adoption Information Center of Illinois under the auspices of the Child Care Association of Illinois.

She began her career with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as a Child Welfare Worker and Adoption Coordinator.

She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Ms Panichi is co-founder of the Adoption Exchange Association where she currently serves as board member and treasurer.

Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D

Professor, Author
Senior Fellow at The Child Trauma Academy

Over the last thirty years, Dr. Perry has been an active teacher, clinician and researcher in children's mental health and the neurosciences. He is currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago.

Dr. Perry is the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog, and Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endangered. He is the author of over 300 journal articles, book chapters and scientific proceedings and is the recipient of numerous professional awards and honors, including the T. Berry Brazelton Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award, the Award for Leadership in Public Child Welfare and the Alberta Centennial Medal.

Dr. Perry's research includes: the effects of prenatal drug exposure on brain development, the neurobiology of human neuropsychiatric disorders, the neurophysiology of traumatic life events, and long-term cognitive, behavioral, emotional, social and physiological effects of neglect and trauma in children, adolescents and adults. His work has resulted in the development of innovative clinical practices and programs working with maltreated and traumatized children.

Karyn Purvis, Ph.D.

Dr. Karyn Purvis is the founder and director of the TCU Institute of Child Development and a passionate advocate for "children from hard places", a phrase that describes children with histories of trauma, abuse and neglect. Dr. Purvis and her mentor and colleague, Dr. David Cross, currently lead the Institute in its triple mission of research, education and outreach on behalf of at-risk children.

Dr. Purvis and Cross also co-authored The Connected Child: Bringing Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family and developed Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), a step-by-step intervention designed to bring deep healing to at-risk children and their struggling families. In 1999, Dr. Purvis launched The Hope Connection, a summer camp that serves as a research and training lab for adopted children and their parents and students.

A noted author, scholar and popular speaker, Dr. Purvis holds a PhD in developmental psychology from Texas Christian University. She was appointed to chair the state committee that set licensing standards for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, has trained judicial and court personnel, caseworkers and orphanage caregivers.

Honors include: T. Berry Brazelton MD Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award; Heroes of Healthcare Award, Families Supporting Adoption Hall of Fame Award, the James Hammerstein Award, and a Distinguished Fellow in Adoption and Child Development.

Dr. Purvis is a former foster mother, a mother of three sons, and a grandmother of eight, two of whom are adopted.

Nathan Ross

Speaker, Director of Youth Programs for Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association
Nathan Ross came into foster care in 1999 after severe abuse and neglect led to the deaths of two of his brothers. Once in care, Nathan spent two years in a Belton foster home and was then adopted in Blue Springs. At 18 he began using his story to help effect positive changes within the child welfare system and has spent the last six years going across Missouri and other parts of the country advocating for a system that fights against child abuse and neglect. Nathan works full time as the Director of Youth Programs for Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association, where he creates programming that helps youth in their transition to adulthood. He also works as a youth consultant for the North American Council on Adoptable Children where he gets to use his experiences to help effect change on a national level.

Gina Samuels, Ph.D

Professor, School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago

As a researcher and teacher, Dr. Samuels focuses on issues of identity development for foster youth and adopted persons. She was also transracially adopted as an infant from foster care.

Jayne Schooler

Author and Trainer
Jayne E. Schooler, is a national and international trainer in the field of adoption and foster care. She has been recognized by a number of state and national awards. She is the author/co-author of six books in field of child welfare including her newest: Wounded Children, Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster Parents. Jayne’s international work takes both her and her husband, David regularly to Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Poland. Recently, two of her books have been translated into Russian and Polish. She and her husband are parents by birth and adoption and she holds a Master’s Degree in Life Issues Counseling.

Betsy Keefer Smalley, LCSW

Consultant
Program Manager at the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program
Co-Author

Betsy Keefer Smalley, LCSW, has thirty-three years of experience in the field of child welfare, specializing in the areas of adoption, kinship, and foster care. She is a training consultant for the Institute for Human Services, Program Manager at the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program, a consultant to the Center for Child Welfare Policy, and a clinical consultant to the Family Trust Clinic.

With colleague Jayne Schooler, Ms. Keefer Smalley co-authored the award-winning book, Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child: Making Sense of the Past. She is lead author of the 10-module IHS Adoption Assessor training series, and the Preservice Training for Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Caregivers, and has prepared over 600 foster care and adoption specialists to use these curricula.

Susan Livingston Smith, LCSW

Program & Project Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
Co-Director of the Center for Adoption Studies at Illinois State University
Emerita Professor of Social Work at Illinois State University

Susan is Program and Project Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and Co-Director of the Center for Adoption Studies at Illinois State University is a leading scholar in the field of post-adoption services. A licensed clinical social worker and Emerita Professor of Social Work at Illinois State University, she has published several books and numerous articles in scholarly journals.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognized her pioneering work, along with Dr. Jeanne Howard, with its 2002 Excellence Award for applied scholarship and research. Dr. Smith is a recipient of the Angels in Adoption Award (2006).

Judy Stigger, LCSW

Board Member of Adoptive Families magazine
Clinical Director of Adoption Learning Partners

Judy, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and adoptive mom, has been serving families and children in the field of adoption for over 30 years. Instrumental in launching The Cradle's international program, Judy was also a lead developer for Adoption Learning Partner's debut course, Conspicuous Families.

She serves on the board of Adoptive Families magazine, is the past president of Joint Council on International Children's Services, and is currently serving as the Clinical Director of Adoption Learning Partners.

Lynn L. Wetterberg, MS, CPA

Lynn Wetterberg, MS is the former Executive Director of ATTACh, a national organization of clinicians, advocates and parents of attachment disordered children. Lynn currently serves as the President of Comfort the Children, a humanitarian aid and child advocacy organization, and is a founding member of For the Children, SOS, a grass roots organization which advocates for Romania's orphaned children.

Lynn served as a co-founder and Executive Director of Uniting Families Foundation (UFF), a licensed child welfare agency, assisting in the placement of children from orphanages overseas. During her tenure she assisted in the placement of more than 50 older and special needs children.

Lynn also served on the Board of Directors of Joint Council on International Children's Services for seven years. A recipient of the Congressional Angel in Adoption Award, Lynn Wetterberg remains devoted to the right of every child to be raised in a permanent, loving family.

Lynn has four children, three adopted from Romania and one from Russia.

Tessa Yun Hennessy

Avid gymnast, college student, entrepreneur, adopted person

Tessa was born on June 2, 1995 in Nanning, China and was raised in a foster home until the age of one. On her first birthday she was adopted by Ray and Mary Hennessy. She is an only child and was raised in Whitewater, WI for most of her life. At 18 years old, she is an avid gymnast currently, I attending Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is actively involved in InterVaristy Christian Fellowship at Carroll and runs her own online business. In her free time, Tessa enjoys being active and spending time with family and friends.

Our Next Webinar

Tired Of Timeouts

Thursday September 4, 2014
7:00 PM Central Time
Tired Of Timeouts

Traditional discipline methods can be ineffective and even potentially damaging for adopted children - children who have experienced loss. Learn how to correct behavior while focusing on keeping a strong connection with your child.

Learn More and Register