Adoption & Foster Care Conference (3).png

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About Barker's Annual Conference

Barker’s highly regarded annual adoption and foster care conference offers the opportunity for you to hear from some of the nation’s leading adoption experts, and explore the nuances of adoption and the lifelong impact that adoption may have on an adoptee, their birth parents, and their adoptive parents. 

Please plan to join us virtually on Saturday, November 13, for several opportunities to expand your understanding of the many facets of adoption, earn 6 CEUs, hear personal stories and candid conversations that can help strengthen your families and the adoption community as a whole.



Meet The Amazing Guest Speakers and Staff Members
Presenting at This Year's Annual Conference:
Resilience and Heart


Keynote Speaker: Julie Lopez 


Dr. Julie Lopez is a speaker, master clinician, and the Founder of Viva Partnership, a mental health organization dedicated to sparking a mental health revolution. As a human systems expert specializing in performance enhancement, Dr. Julie Lopez works with individuals, teams, and organizations to feel empowered within their professional, personal, and relational realms. Because of her thorough understanding of how the body adapts and survives the stumbling blocks of life, Dr. Julie speaks and works with individuals and teams in a way that is both effective and relatable.

Her clinical specialty is working with implicit memory (hidden, cellular memories) by using advanced brain-based therapies, including EMDR, Brainspotting, and Neurofeedback. After beginning her career as a systems engineer, she quickly gained an interest in viewing the human body as a system – specifically how humans store and deal with trauma in the body, and the compulsions often developed to cope and adapt to trauma.

Over the years, Dr. Julie has been cited as a trauma and addictions expert and has been featured by the Associated Press, Fox News, Telemundo, and a host of other print and broadcast publications. She also served as adjunct faculty for The Catholic University of America’s graduate social work program for nearly a decade.

(Dr. Julie will also be presenting in the conference session: Deep Dive into Implicit Memory)


April.pngApril Dinwoodie 

After a successful career in corporate marketing, branding, and PR and a lifetime as a transracially adopted person, April is devoted to elevating our collective experiences of family and working together to build stronger relationships. Dinwoodie’s podcast Born in June, Raised in April: What Adoption Can Teach the World! helps facilitate an open dialogue about identity, family, and differences of race, class, and culture. April is the former Chief Executive of the Donaldson Adoption Institute and the founder of AdoptMent, a mentoring program that matches foster youth with adopted adults.

(Conference Session: Transracial Adoption Through the Lens of a Global Pandemic – Developing a Deeper Understanding of Identity, Connections, Race & Trauma)



Isaac.pngIsaac Etter 

Isaac Etter is an activist and social entrepreneur. Isaac was transracially adopted at the age of two. He is a transracial adoption, and racial bias consultant at Etter Consulting, a consulting firm Isaac founded in January of 2019. Isaac has a passion for helping families and adoption agencies learn about racial bias and create inclusive homes. Isaac is a frequent speaker in many settings, including colleges, adoption agencies, and conferences.

Isaac has used his story of being adopted and growing up in a white world to curate deep conversations about race in America. With his unique insight on racial tensions between white and black communities, Isaac is able to curate meaningful conversations, where everyone learns to value each other and their experience while learning about systemic racism, privilege, and their role in it.

(Conference Session: Special Considerations in Adoptee Identify Formation)



Cynthia.pngCynthia Cubbage, LCSW-C, LICSW

Cynthia is the Director of The Barker Adoption Foundation’s Family and Post-Adoption Services and Counseling Departments. She provides oversight of Search & Reunion Services, Support Groups, the Clinical Counseling Program, and Training & Education Services. She has more than two decades of experience dedicated to serving children and families in leadership and clinical therapy positions through non-profit work and county government agencies. Cynthia has focused her career on child advocacy efforts, analyzing public local policies, developing innovative programming for youth/children, and providing clinical therapy to children and adolescents. Cynthia’s area of expertise is in providing pre and post-adoption services in various local, national, and international agencies to anyone touched by adoption. She and her wife are parents by adoption of two wonderful children.

(Conference Session: You’ve Got Mail: The New Realities of Adoption Reunion)



Hannah Matthews  

Hannah Jackson Matthews is the writer, educator, and content creator behind Hey TRA (Hey Transracial Adoptee). Through Hey TRA, she creates digital, educational content for transracial adoptees (people raised by families whose race and ethnicities are different than their own) and their families in order to better navigate race, embrace racial identity, and combat racism and white supremacy. She is an adult transracial adoptee— a biracial woman who was domestically and privately adopted as an infant by white parents. The racial difference between her and her parents made navigating race, racism, and culture, along with developing a positive racial identity, extremely difficult. Her experiences informed her first career as a teacher and drove her to earn her master’s degree in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Although she’s no longer in the classroom in a traditional sense, Hannah uses education as a means to combat racial ignorance and racism, especially within the context of transracial adoption.

(Conference Session: Special Considerations in Adoptee Identify Formation)



Saara.pngSaara McEachnie, LCSW-C, LICSW

Saara is the Director of Domestic Adoptions, the integrated program of Project Wait No Longer (PWNL), and Infant Adoptions at The Barker Adoption Foundation. Saara has nearly 15 years of s of experience working with children and families. She spent the first years of her career working with children who were diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and assisting families of soldiers who had served overseas in the military. The majority of Saara's experience has been with the public child welfare system, helping children achieve permanency either through reunification with their birth parents or through adoption/guardianship with a loving and able caregiver. Saara worked on supervisory teams to implement evidence-based, trauma-informed treatment models to best serve the vulnerable population of children within the foster care system in the District of Columbia. Her passion is mostly found in ensuring happy, healthy, and loving families for children.

(Moderating Conference Panel: Longevity requires some Levity)



Chauncey Strong.pngChauncey Strong, MSW LGSW  

Executive Director, Chauncey Strong, MSW, brings a unique perspective of personal and professional child welfare experience to the services he provides. His career as a child welfare professional spans more than 25 years and he has worked closely with countless children and their families. Chauncey trains, consults, motivate, inspire and challenge audiences to action to help improve outcomes for children and families involved in the child welfare system.

(Conference Session: Openness in Adoption – Exploring the Importance of Birth Family Connections)



Sarah Saffian, MFA, MSW

Sarah Saffian, MFA, MSW, is an adoptee, a therapist, a writer, and a teacher who returns to Barker by popular demand. Her memoir, Ithaka, chronicles her experience of being found by her birth family – both parents and three full siblings. Sarah teaches at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and Sarah Lawrence College and works independently as a writing coach. As a therapist, she counsels individual clients and runs support groups with Spence-Chapin.

Services and in various private practice settings in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Her clinical experience also includes New York University’s Counseling and Wellness Services. Sarah earned her BA in English from Brown, her MFA in creative writing from Columbia, and her MSW from NYU. For more information about Sarah’s work, visit

(Conference Session: Therapeutic Writing for the Adoption Constellation)