This is the way the adoption paradigm shifts

My November has turned into the perfect storm of family and adoption activities, to the point that I’m barely able to keep up with it all. There’s one event that I couldn’t attend, though, to my everlasting disappointment: the Adoption Policy and Reform Collaborative’s first conference: Reframing the Adoption Discourse.

First, take a look at the panels and sessions:

  • Activism Panel moderated by Michelle Johnson with Mary Martin Mason, Sandy White Hawk, JaeRan Kim and Fang Lee
  • Performance Panel moderated by Kevin Haebeom Vollmers featuring Katie Hae Leo, Marissa Lichwick-Glesne, Chad Goller-Sojourner and Kurt Blomberg
  • Research Panel moderated by Shannon Gibney with Dr. Liz Raleigh, Dr. SooJin Pate, Kelly Condit and Robert O’Connor
  • Policy Panel moderated by Joy Lieberthal Rho featuring Jane Jeong Trenka, Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston, Nicole Callahan Tara Linh Leaman
  • Mental Health Panel moderated by Susan Branco Alvarado with JaeRan Kim, Fintan Moore, Hei Kyong Kim, Elana Meesun Schuster and Robert O’Connor

This program is a who’s-who of adoptee talent, to be sure. But more than this, it is a program that cuts right to the heart of where the adoption community must focus if we really want to reframe adoption. Each of these panels touches on an aspect of adoption and the adoptee experience, with a particular focus on adoptee needs that have been woefully ignored for far too long.

As if discussion by panels of this caliber weren’t enough, the conference also provided an opportunity for adoptees to celebrate their many talents, and to heal together. Sandy White Hawk’s Wiping Tears Ceremony, adoptee performances and a healing ceremony at the conference's end did what too many adoptive parent and adoption agency centric conferences fail to do: place control of adoptees' emotional experiences in their own hands.

To ice this incredible conference cake, the Minnesota Transracial Film Festival, featuring the films of and a panel discussion with Deann Borshay Liem, Ramsay Liem, Jaikyoung Choi, Tammy Chu, Angela and Brian Tucker, Thomas Park Clement, Dawn Tomlinson and Jenny Fang Lee, took place on  Friday evening. What an amazing way to kick off a conference!

I wanted to be there. I was glad my friend Maureen McCauley Evans was able to make it (and hope she writes about the experience on her blog). I also hope that other adoptive parents attended, too - we need to be at adoptee-led conferences and events, to listen and learn.

My greatest hope is that this conference is the first of many that APRC will organize. Because when adoptees lead the discourse, the adoption paradigm is absolutely sure to shift.

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