The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Professor of Psychology,University of Oregon

Philip A. Fisher, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology and Research Scientist at the Prevention Science Institute at the University of Oregon. He is Science Director for the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs and a Senior Fellow at the Center on the Developing Child, both based at Harvard University. He is also a Senior Research Scientist at the Oregon Social Learning Center. Dr. Fisher’s work on disadvantaged and maltreated children includes (a) studies to understand the effects of early stress on the developing brain; (b) the development of two-generation prevention and treatment programs to improve high-risk children’s (and their caregiver’s) well-being and brain functioning; and (c) advocacy for science-based policy and practice to improve early learning and healthy development in high-risk children. His work has been funded by a number of institutes of the National Institutes of Health. He serves on a number of national advisory groups related to prevention science and community based research. His intervention programs are being implemented at sites throughout the United States and Europe. He is the recipient of the 2012 Society for Prevention Research Translational Science Award. Dr. Fisher has been an adoptive parent for 16 years. 

Learn more about Dr Fisher here:



Ms. Chapski and her husband adopted their daughter 8 years ago, when she was 6.5 years old.  The adoption was a result of a disruption, and through a private, non-DCF/DSS agency. Historically, their daughter is from Russia, having been institutionalized since birth (28 weeks gestation) until age 5 ½ yrs. She is now 14 years old. Currently, Ms. Chapski is a ‘stay-at-home’ mom, volunteering her time and energy to other adoptive parents in support group settings, and as a Parent Liaison with Adoption Journeys. She is an educational advocate for her daughters needs within the school system.  Professionally, Ms. Chapski is an Occupational Therapist with 30 years of clinical experience. She was employed by Behavioral Health Network for 2 years as a Family Partner, is trained in Psychological First Aids and was an active member of the Trauma Response Team. Ms. Chapski is also an Instructor for the Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control parenting paradigm and teaches classes throughout the area to professionals and parents.


Karen Green and her partner fostered their daughter from 3 ½ years to 5 years and then adopted her at 5 years of age through DSS. It has been a tremendous challenge to learn how to parent a child with early trauma and attachment issues. However, working closely with Adoption Journeys has helped Karen understand “early trauma” and its impact on the nervous system and her daughter’s behavior. Karen has worked closely with school systems as an advocate for her daughter. After 11 years of parenting her daughter Karen has begun to let go of traditional expectations and realize that the true journey is to help her daughter become “whole” and help her create her own life story by integrating experiences from both her birth family and adoptive family.

Karen works in the Frontier Regional School District as a Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Coordinator providing support for families and children from before birth through school age. As CFCE Coordinator she provides access to comprehensive services, child development information, and educational opportunities for parents and families.


Alan Singer is the proud Father of his adopted daughter, Kelsea and husband of nearly twenty years to his wife, Cynthia.

Alan re-located to western MA during the latter part of 2002 in order to assume the responsibilities of his present job position as Director of Lending/Business Development at the Franklin County CDC. Alan’s passion in being of service to others stems, in part, from sharing life earlier on with his older brother, Marshall, who has diagnosed learning disabilities.

Living with an older sibling who has emotional and cognitive challenges has allowed Alan to have a better level of understanding and interaction with Kelsea as she learns and grows while dealing with her earlier life setbacks as a foster child.

Alan’s Mother, Rita Singer, was also a Special Education teacher and continues to offer support for Alan and Cynthia as they face the constantly evolving challenges they face in their devoted raising of Kelsea into adulthood.

Alan, Cynthia and Kelsea have also received excellent support from their team of resources highlighted by The New England Attachment Institute, Clinical and Support Options, Adoption Journeys and the team of educators involved with implementing Kelsea’s IEP at her grammar school.

Social Worker, Adoption Journeys 

Nancy Solow, MSW, LICSW is a clinical social worker on the Regional Response Team of Adoption Journeys in Florence, MA. A graduate of the Smith College School for Social Work, Nancy specializes in post-adoption services, including family work, adoption identity, attachment trauma, group work and adolescence. She provides services to a wide variety of adoptive families including counseling and advocacy with mental health and education systems. She has worked with foster and adoptive families since 1990, beginning with families in Vermont's child protective sector (SRS). Her professional experience also includes ten years with Casey Family Services in Vermont, and for the past ten years, Adoption Journeys of Massachusetts. She is a certified trainer in Adoption Competence for the Center for Adoption Support and Education (CASE) and currently provides training to clinicians in Central Massachusetts. In addition, Nancy trains school personnel in strategies for helping students who have histories of attachment trauma. She is a frequent presenter at Western New England University's annual social work conference on developmental stages in the adopted child. She is privileged to learn a great deal every day from the parents and children with whom she works and is delighted to present a panel of wise and experienced parents to this conference.



Director of Adoption Support Services, Massachusetts Department of Children and Families

Leo Farley has worked for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (formerly DSS) since 1980, first as a CHINS worker in the Lowell Court and then as an investigator for many years. He was an adoption worker before joining the Foster Care Review Unit in 1996. He has interacted with literally thousands of families served by DCF.

Mr. Farley moved to the Central Office in 1999, shortly after receiving his MSW from Salem State College. He has served briefly as the Subsidy Manager and then as the Director of Adoption Support Services. Working closely with Assistant Commissioner Mary Gambon and the Director of Adolescent Services, he has been a leader in moving the Department toward Permanency for every child, with a focus on older youth. Mr. Farley coordinated the Breakthrough Series Collaborative on Youth Permanence that DCF sponsored from 2005 to 2008. This department wide effort involved staff from across the state experimenting with changes in local practice that would expedite permanent connections for older youth. This resulted in a renewed commitment to youth permanency by the entire Department. There are currently 1,674 youth over the age of 18 who have chosen to remain in the care of the Department. Mr. Farley has designed and presented a number of trainings for DCF staff on the adoption process and adoption related issues. He has been a presenter and has done workshops at several conferences sponsored by the Casey Foundation, the Administration for Children and Families, and the Rudd Adoption Research Program (2012).


Donahue and DiFelice Endowed Professor, Boston College Graduate School of Social Work

In September 2009, Ruth G. McRoy became the first holder of the Donahue and DiFelice Endowed Professorship at Boston College Graduate School of Social Work. From 2005-2009, she served as a Visiting Research Professor and Consultant at Boston College. Prior to joining the Boston College faculty, McRoy was a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work for 25 years. While at UT, she served for 12 years as the Director of the Center for Social Work Research, Director of the Diversity Institute and in 2002, became the Associate Dean for Research. A practitioner, academician, researcher, trainer and lecturer in the field for over 30 years, her work has focused on such topics as open adoptions, kinship care, adoptive family recruitment, minority recruitment, racial identity development, transracial adoptions, and post-adoption services. She has served as PIor Co-PI on numerous federal, foundation, state and local research and evaluation projects over the years. McRoy and her research and evaluation team at the University of Texas at Austin serve asevaluators (2005-2012 and 2012-2017) of the federally funded AdoptUSKids project, which is operated through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Children’s Bureau. She is a Senior Research Fellow and a member of the Donaldson Adoption Institute Board and a member of the Rudd Adoption Research Program Advisory Board at theUniversity of Massachusetts-Amherst. McRoy has published numerous articles, book chapters and ten books, including Openness in Adoption: Family Connections(with H. Grotevant). Her recent honors include the following:the 2006 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work and Research, the St. John’s 2010 Outstanding Scholar in Adoption Award, and the 2013 Adoption Excellence Award from the U.S. Children’s Bureau.


Research Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Rachel Farr, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor at UMass Amherst. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental and Community Psychology from the University of Virginia in January 2011. Rachel came to UMass as the Rudd Postdoctoral Research Scholar in February 2011, and has been doing research related to openness in adoption, particularly about how primary tasks of adulthood (e.g., entering long-term romantic partnerships, marriage, establishing a career, having children) are influenced by adoptive and birth family dynamics. In graduate school, Rachel completed a large study about how parental sexual orientation impacts child outcomes, parenting, and family dynamics in adoptive families with young children from across the United States. The results have been informative to policy, practice, and law surrounding ongoing controversy about lesbian and gay parent adoption. The study has received national attention from the New York Times, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post, as well as in the NBC TV Show, “Outlaw.” With support from the American Psychological Foundation’s Placek Grant, Rachel is now beginning a follow up study with these families.

Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Dr. McDermott received her doctorate in Human Development from the University of Maryland in 2008. Her research focuses on how children learn to regulate their behaviors and emotions, with a special emphasis on the role of individual differences and influence of early experience. To explore these issues Dr. McDermott is charting the developmental sensitivity of cognitive and affective regulation across contexts using a combination of behavioral and physiological approaches. The primary goal of this research is to determine the manner by which regulatory abilities promote efficient learning and contribute to adaptive socioemotional outcomes in children. She has been a Co-Investigator on the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, a study examining the effects of a powerful intervention on outcomes for children in Romania who have experienced significant early adversity.


Adjunct Assistant Professor, Boston University

Adele S. Raade, PhD, is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. She has more than 20 years of clinical experience as a speech-language pathologist in a wide variety of settings. Since March of 2012, she has also served as an Executive Function Coach for adolescents and young adults (for Thinking Outside the Classroom). Her area of expertise includes the effects of early trauma or loss on the development of Social Communication and Executive Function skills. Dr. Raade has presented nationally on the communication and executive function development of children touched by adoption or foster care. Recently, she completed the recorded version of Dr. Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics—Case-Based Training Series. Dr. Raade is also an adoptive parent as her 11-year-old son was adopted from Russia.

Professor, Clinical Psychology, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Director, Clinical Training, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Dr. Scherer is a licensed psychologist and professor in the UMass Amherst Clinical Psychology Program. He earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Virginia in 1989 and has been on the Psychology faculty at UMass Amherst since 2005. Dr. Scherer's clinical and research work have focused on adolescents in the family context. In particular, he has worked on studies of how adolescents and parents make important medical decisions and innovative models of psychotherapy for adolescents. Dr. Scherer was trained as a structural family therapist and employs a family systems theoretical orientation in his clinical work with children, adolescents and their parents. In addition, he is the proud parent of an adopted daughter who is now a teenager.


Professor, Pediatrics, University of Minnesota

Dr. Johnson is a Professor of Pediatrics and member of the Divisions of Neonatology and Global Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota where he co-founded the International Adoption Program 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 Donaldson Adoption Institute, serves on the editorial boards of Adoption Quarterly and Adoptive Families Magazine and has authored over 200 scholarly works. He received the Distinguished Service Award from 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 serves on the board of directors of Joint Council on International Children’s Services, Half The Sky Foundation and SPOON Foundation and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Rudd Adoption Research Program. He is the father of three children including an adopted son from India.



Founder and president of MJ Henry & Associates, Inc.

MJ Henry & Associates, Inc. is a practice-based education and consultation firm that specializes in education and consultation services for individuals and organizations working to support children, youth and families, especially those who have experienced adversity. The firm provides professional education and program evaluation in the areas of child welfare, foster care, adoption, child and family behavioral health. Additionally, she is nationally recognized for her expertise on implementation, training and practice of CANS (Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths) information integration and communication tool in both child welfare and child mental health systems.

Dr. Henry received her master’s and doctoral degrees in developmental psychology from Clark University in Worcester, MA. She has multiple direct personal connections to adoption that influence her thinking and sensitize her to its complexity and the innumerable experiences of the various members of the adoption constellation. She is also the lead author of Adoption in the United States: A reference for families, professionals and students, a comprehensive resource with a special focus on the medical and behavioral health needs of children who were adopted. Additionally, she has authored several peer-reviewed publications and has appeared on various media programs, such as the Today Show, for her expertise in adoption.

Prior to her recent positions, Dr. Henry served as Director of the Office of Foster Care and Adoption (originally the Center for Adoption Research) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where she led a team of multidisciplinary professionals in administering educational programs and consultation services focused on a wide array of child welfare and children’s mental health practices

Senior Associate at MJ Henry and Associates, Inc

Michael J. McManus, M.S.W., LICSW, is a Senior Associate at MJ Henry and Associates, Inc and a private clinician specializing in work with children, youth, and families impacted by trauma and loss. Mr. McManus received his master's degree in social work from Springfield College in Springfield, MA. Prior to joining MJ Henry & Associates, he was the Director of Training and Technical Assistance at the Office of Foster Care and Adoption, where he led the team responsible for the re-design of the Massachusetts foster parent preparation program (MAPP-III). He has also worked for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) at multiple levels.

In addition, Mr. McManus collaborated in the CANS certification training program in Massachusetts, training and certifying over 10,000 people and aiding in the creation of additional CANS in Practice supports. He is nationally recognized for his expertise on implementation, training and practice of CANS (Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths) information integration and communication tool in both child welfare and child mental health systems.

Mr. McManus' background in social work and his experience as a foster and adoptive parent inform his work in developing adoption and foster care curricula and trainings for families and professionals in a variety of fields. He is a seasoned clinician specializing in adolescent issues and family work who owns a private practice in Southbridge, MA.