We have an exciting program planned for Barker's 2020 Virtual Adoption & Foster Care Conference on Saturday, November 14. Each session is designed to meet the interests of everyone in the adoption circle. Sessions include panels and presentations by adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents.

Barker's 2020 Virtual Adoption & Foster Care Conference Sessions: 

Session 1 (8:30 to 9:30 AM ET)  

What Adoptees Wish Every Adoptive Parent and Birth Parent Knew

A panel of adoptees—adopted both domestically and internationally—candidly discuss key issues that may arise during the formative years. Those include how the “adoption story” is shared, the need for adoptive families to talk about birth families, the range of feelings associated with adoption, and how birth and adoptive parents can help empower their child through the lifelong journey of adoption. Moderator: Kristen Reighard

Session 2 (9:45 to 10:45 AM ET)

Adoption through the Eyes of Children: The Preschool through Teen Years

In making sense of their stories, children who were adopted often face predictable emotional challenges related to their relationships with their birth families, adoptive families, and peers. In this workshop, we’ll address children’s understanding of adoption as they grow from preschool into adolescence. We’ll explore some of the core issues of adoption and discuss what parents need to be aware of and how to respond to difficulties if they arise. We’ll discuss how children process and view adoption through each developmental stage, how to talk to your child about adoption at each stage, and ways that you can effectively support your children through their journey. We’ll address these issues and other questions from participants in this workshop. Presenter: Ellen Singer

Session 3 (11:00 AM to 12:00 PM ET)

A Birth Parent’s Journey to Adoption

The birth parent experience has many layers and continues to evolve with increased access, information, and connections to adoptive families. The journey to choosing adoption is uniquely complex because it includes happiness and sadness, hope and despair, unconditional love, and sacrifice. Understanding the beginning of their child’s story not only gives the adoptive family tools for greater connection but also creates space for empathy regarding a deeply personal decision. This birth parent panel joins us to share their unique stories of how they charted their own course and made a courageous adoption plan. Moderator: Saara McEachnie

Lunch (Noon – 1:00 PM ET)

Session 4 (1:00 to 2:00 PM ET) 

Talking with Your Child About Racism and Creating a Race-Conscious Family 

Social media, TV, and radio are exploding with images, stories, and feelings about the deaths of black Americans, and protests are happening all around us. Children and teens need help to navigate these events and a place to process their thoughts and feelings. As they hear the words racism, anti-racist, prejudice, and discrimination, they’ll need help defining what these words mean. Participants will learn strategies to (1) proactively talk about race and race-related issues with children and teens, (2) strengthen their family’s ability to be a change-maker, (3) feel empowered with the necessary tips and tools to teach the importance of racial justice with children, and (4) create a racially conscious household. Presenters: Cynthia Cubbage and Britton Perry.

Session 5 (2:15 to 3:15 PM ET)

Forever Parenting: Parenting through the Unknown

Parenting comes with unexpected challenges. There might be days or weeks when parents feel they’ve been pushed to the edge and are lacking the resources and energy needed to be fully present for their children. In this session, Debbie Schugg, an adoption professional and the mother of eight children (seven adopted from foster care), will talk about some of the unexpected realities and challenges that families may experience. We’ll explore the idea of being a “forever through whatever” parent and will share tools that can help support and sustain families through the often-unexpected journey of parenting. Presenter: Debbie Schugg

Session 6 (3:30 to 4:30 PM ET)

Search and Reunion Stories: How Birth and Adoptive Families Can Support Important Connections

Birth and adoptive families are both extremely important in the life of an adoptee. Without the right support, an adoptee’s journey to forming healthy and meaningful relationships with both can be long, confusing, and lonely. In this session, participants will hear from adult adoptees who have been through search and reunion. They’ll share their stories and discuss how the actions of both birth and adoptive families are critical to forming and maintaining healthy connections. Moderator: Chauncey Strong

Closing Session (4:30 to 4:50 PM ET)

Takeaways for Your Adoption Journey

A panel of adult adoptees will share their closing thoughts about what they believe participants should take with them from the day. Moderator: Sue Hollar  


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