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Barker's 22nd Annual Adoption & Foster Care Conference is Saturday, March 19
What is your definition of family? When this question was posed recently to Barker adoptive parents of an unstoppable two-year old, they responded as follows: “Family is unconditional love and in our case, it’s even larger, as our daughter has us, who love her to the end of the earth, and she has her birth mother and her family who all love her and want to help her be happy and live the best life possible. “
As Barker concludes its celebration of 70 years of connecting and supporting families through adoption and education, it will fittingly focus its 22nd annual Conference on the connected lives of “families of adoption,” the unique ensemble that includes birth parents, adoptive parents, and the child of adoption. Executive Director and CEO, Marilyn Regier, explains that “as increasingly more birth parents and adoptive parents work together on behalf of a child and embrace their connected lives, they learn what adoption teaches so powerfully and what the family above expressed: that what makes a family is not only genetic ties, not racial and ethnic similarity, but a shared history of love, caring, and permanency.”
Scheduled for Saturday, March 19, at the Universities at Shady Grove Conference Center, Rockville, Maryland, the Conference speakers and panels promise to challenge and inspire all who attend. The Keynote speaker is Alison Larkin (pictured to right) whose appearance at Barker’s 2009 Conference was met with great praise, and her return has been highly anticipated. Alison is an internationally acclaimed comedienne, best-selling author of The English American, speaker, audiobook narrator and Barker adoptee. And in what promises to be both a poignant and humorous talk, Alison will reflect upon her latest, and perhaps most important title: parent.
Also back by popular demand is nationally known speaker on the topic of transracial adoption, Rhonda M. Roorda (pictured to left). Her presentation will focus on a subject too-seldom explored: what black Americans think about transracial adoption. Rhonda, adopted into a white family, will discuss findings from her recently published book, In Their Voices: Black Americans on Transracial Adoption.
The day is filled with a mix of highly regarded national speakers and engaging panels. Additional speakers include Debbie Schugg, who has 30 years of experience working with families of at-risk youth and those with special needs, and who herself is the mother of eight children from culturally diverse backgrounds. Debbie will lead a workshop for those considering and/or already parenting children adopted at an older age and from the foster care system. Darla Henry, will present concepts from her 3-5-7© Model, exploring skills participants can use to help adopted children and youth grieve their losses.
In addition, members of the Barker Leadership team will moderate a series of insightful panels made up of adoptive parents, adoptees and birth parents exploring important topics including: the power of permanency and family to older adoptees; authentically celebrating a multicultural family; embracing the privilege of parenting, whether by birth or by adoption; the expectations and realities of post-adoption contact; and, finally, the uncharted process of life after reuniting with birth family (including newly added panelist, Haley Butler, china-born adoptee featured in the documentary, Somewhere Between, shown to right).
The conference will close with Sarah Saffian (pictured to right), an adoptee, therapist, writer, and teacher who integrates her deep knowledge of each into a therapeutic writing process thoughtfully conceived to help those within the adoption constellation. In addition to teaching a hands-on writing workshop during the breakouts (sharing is optional), Sarah will give the Conference Closing Plenary talk, Constellation: The Adoptee’s Journey Toward Wholeness, made possible through the generosity of The Robin B. Allen Memorial Fund.
The Conference is made possible through the generosity of our wonderful sponsors. We express our deepest gratitude to Chesapeake Management Group, CohnReznick, Gary D. Rappaport, Neighborhood Development Company, RBC Wealth Management, and a sponsor who wishes to remain anonymous.
Click the buttons below for detailed Conference information and to register. If you have questions, please email Kathleen Porter.