The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Megan Gunner, Ph.D.
Regents Professor, University of Minnesota; Director of the Institute of Child Development.

Megan R. Gunnar is Regents Professor and Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Child Psychology and Director of the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. Among many other honors, she received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution to Child Development Award from the Society for Research in Child Development (2009) and the G. Stanley Hall Award for Distinguished Contributions to Developmental Psychology from the American Psychological Association (2006). She has published over 130 articles in refereed journals and over 55 chapters in edited volumes. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Mental Health, National Science Foundation, and a number of private foundations. She is currently Director of the NIMH Center on Early Experience, Stress, and Neurobehavioral Development.

Gunnar is the principal investigator for The International Adoption Project. She is also co-principal investigator of The Early Experience, Stress Neurobiology, and Prevention Science Network. Dr. Gunnar received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Stanford University in 1978. Following her graduate work she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford Medical School in Developmental Psychoneuroendocrinology. Dr. Gunnar came to the University of Minnesota in the Fall of 1979, becoming a full professor in 1988. In 1996 she was honored as a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, and in 2006 was named Regents Professor, the highest distinction a University of Minnesota professor can receive. Dr. Gunnar's main interest area is stress and coping in infants and young children. Her work documents the importance of sensitive and responsive care by adults in the modulation and buffering of stress physiology in the developing child. She has studied children living in orphanages in Romania and Russia and with her students traces the development of post-institutionalized children in the months immediately following adoption. Dr. Gunnar is a member of the Society for Research in Child Development, the International Society for Infant Studies, and the International Society of Developmental Psychobiology. She was also a member of the National Academy of Science's panel to review the science of early child development. Dr. Gunnar is currently a member of the Canadian Institute of Advanced Research's program on Experienced-Based Brain Development.



Sally Powers, Ed.D.
Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Director, Center of Research on Families.

Dr. Powers is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Associate Dean in its College of Natural Sciences. Dr. Powers’ research investigates the interaction of normal developmental processes and psychopathology in adolescents. She focuses on understanding the role of cognitive, personality, and life history risk factors, interpersonal behavior in close relationships, and neuroendocrine functioning in the development of psychopathology. Her most recent studies, funded by NIMH, investigate a biopsychosocial model of factors hypothesized to contribute to the gender difference in the prevalence of adolescent and young adult depression. Colleague Paula Pietromonaco and she are also conducting a NCI-funded longitudinal study of close relationships and changes in neuroendocrine functioning throughout the early years of marriage.

Ellen Pinderhughes, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Eliot Pearson Department of Child Development, Tufts University.

Ellen Pinderhughes is a developmental and clinical psychologist who has worked as a researcher, therapist, and clinical consultant. Her research focuses primarily on the complex interplay of family dynamics in adoptive and biological families with children at risk for problem outcomes. With 20 years of clinical and research experience in adoption, Dr. Pinderhughes is nationally known for her work on older child adoptions. She is also Principal Investigator on a study of Chinese girls’ understanding of adoption, identity, and cultural differences and parents’ childrearing experiences. She is also a Senior Research Fellow for the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. She serves on several professional editorial boards, including Adoption Quarterly, and has written extensively on adoption-related issues in books and journals.

David Scherer, Ph.D.

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

Dr. Scherer 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 research has focused on the ethics and process of adolescent and family decision-making in medical and research contexts. He also has conducted research on and published about psychotherapy for troubled adolescents and their families.

Susan Smith, LCSW
Professor, Emerita School of Social Work Illinois State University.
Program Director, Evan B. Donaldson.

Susan Smith has been a leading researcher in the field of post-adoption services for the past 25 years. Starting with a ground-breaking study on adoption disruption in 1988, Smith and her colleague, Jeanne Howard, began a scholarly partnership which has continued, resulting in many joint publications, over 60 presentations at professional conferences, and other activities on a national scale. Susan has co-authored three books on adoption, Promoting Successful Adoptions: Practice with Troubled Families (1999), After Adoption: The Needs of Adopted Youth (2003), and Siblings in Adoption and Foster Care: Traumatic Separations and Honored Connections (2009) as well as over 15 journal articles, several book chapters, and numerous scholarly monographs. Smith and Howard jointly received the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Adoption 2002 Excellence Award for their work in applied scholarship and research. She currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.

John Sobraske, MA, Clinical Psychology, LMFT, LMHC (NY)

John Sobraske, is an adoption psychotherapist in private practice who works extensively with members of the foster care and adoption constellations. His research interests include the cross-cultural history of adoption practice, media influence on adoption perspectives and policy, depth work with adult adoptees, and in adoption, the ability of research to inform practice and practice to inform research. John is adopted and a step-parent of adopted children. He is a frequent presenter at national conferences on adoption and regularly provides consultation and training to agencies and counties throughout Western New York.


Adolescents and Identity

Amanda L. Baden, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Counseling and Educational Leadership, Montclair State University in New Jersey.

Baden’s experiences both personally and professionally have led her to focus her research and clinical practice on adoption triad members, transracial/international adoption issues, racial and cultural identity, and multicultural counseling competence. Dr. Baden co- created a model of identity for transracial and international adoptees called the Cultural-Racial Identity Model. She is one of the editors of the text entitled, The Handbook of Adoption: Implications for Researchers, Practitioners, and Families (Sage Publications), and she is on the editorial board for Adoption Quarterly. She also co-chairs the Biennial Adoption Initiative Conferences in New York City held at St. John’s University. She is a regular columnist for Families with Children from China Journals across the US and for Mei Magazine, a publication for Chinese adopted children. Dr. Baden was named an Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and was recently invited to be a Senior Research Fellow of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. Dr. Baden’s clinical specializations include counseling adoption triad members and transracial adoptees. She is a licensed psychologist with a clinical practice in Manhattan.

Jeanne Howard, Ph.D.
Professor at Illinois State University.

Dr. Jeanne Howard is Policy and Research Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. Professor Howard completed her Ph.D. in social work at the University of Chicago and was involved in several research studies conducted by the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. Howard brought expertise from havingtaught child welfare courses and conducted research. She had taught previously at the University of Illinois and Southeast Missouri State University. Howard serves on the post adoption task force of the North American Council for Adoptable Children and received the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Adoption 2002 Excellence Award for her work (with Smith) in applied scholarship and research. Also in 2006 she received the Congressional Angels in Adoption Award.

Experiences of Adolescent Birth Parents

Ruth G. McRoy, Ph.D.
Donahue and DiFelice Endowed Professor, Boston College Graduate School of Social Work

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, family preservation, adolescent pregnancy, African American families, family violence, disproportionality in child welfare, older child adoptions, and post-adoption services. She has served as PI or Co-PI on numerous federal, foundation, state and local research and evaluation projects over the years.

Her recent honors include the following: 2004 Flynn Prize for Social Work Research from the University of Southern California, the 2005 George Silcott Lifetime Achievement Award from the Black Administrators in Child Welfare, the 2006 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work and Research and the 2006-2007 University of Texas at Austin Graduate School’s Outstanding Alumna Award. In 2010 she was selected as a fellow in the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare and also was named the recipient of the St. John’s 2010 Outstanding Scholar in Adoption Award. 

Medical Perspectives on International Adoption: Adolescent Growth, Health, & Development

Dana E. Johnson, M.D., Ph.D.
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 Medical School where Dr. Johnson 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 Evan B. 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. He is the father of three children including an adopted son from India.

Laurie Miller, M.D.
Professor of Pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine.

Miller founded the International Adoption Clinic at Tufts Medical Center in 1988. She has served as a pediatric consultant in more than 10 countries. She oversaw an NIH-funded program to improve outcomes for orphanage residents in Russia for many years. She established “Big Sisters” projects in Baby Homes in Russia, Ukraine, and India. Dr. Miller serves on the NIH Study Section for Brain Disorders in the Developing World. She currently is the Principal Investigator of a longitudinal project to monitor and improve the health and nutritional status of impoverished children in Nepal. She has published over 80 peer-reviewed articles and 30 chapters related to pediatrics and international adoption, as well as two books (Handbook of International Adoption Medicine, Oxford University Press, and Encyclopedia of Adoption [with C. Adamec], Facts on File). She also is a board-certified pediatric rheumatologist and directs the pediatric rheumatology training program at Tufts Medical Center

Resources and Opportunities for Students and New Professionals Focused on Adoption

Abbie Goldberg, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Psychology, Clark University

Abbie E. Goldberg is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at Clark University in Worcester Massachusetts, and Senior Research Fellow at the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. Her research focuses on diverse families, including lesbian/gay parent families and adoptive families. She is the author of over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles as well as the book Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children: Research on The Family Life Cycle, which was published by the American Psychological Association in 2010. Her forthcoming book, Gay dads: Transitions to Adoptive Fatherhood, will be published by NYU Press in Spring of 2012.

Rachel Farr, Ph.D.
Rudd Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Psychology, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Rachel received her Ph.D. in Developmental and Community Psychology from the University of Virginia in January 2011.  Rachel’s research focuses on adoptive families, child development, parenting, and family functioning.  As a postdoc in the Rudd Program, Rachel is working with her colleagues on several lines of research related to openness arrangements among birth and adoptive families, particularly as adoptees enter adulthood.  A central question in this work regards how adoptees conceptualize “family” in adulthood and how primary tasks of adulthood (e.g., entering long-term romantic relationships, marriage, establishing a career, having children) are influenced by adoptees’ ongoing relationships with adoptive and birth family members.  Rachel’s graduate work included a large study of adoptive families from across the United States, headed by lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parenting couples, all of whom had completed domestic infant adoptions.  The study examined the ways in which parental sexual orientation impacts child outcomes, parenting, and family dynamics in adoptive families with young children.  With financial support from the UCLA Williams Institute, as well as the American Psychological Association, this study has been important in addressing current controversy surrounding adoption by lesbian and gay adults and informing adoption policy, practice, and law.  The study has received national attention from mainline news sources, such as the New York Times, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post, and has appeared in the media, such as in the TV Show, “Outlaw.”  In addition to research, Rachel also enjoys teaching psychology courses, such as Child Development, Diverse Family Systems, and Research Methods and Statistics.  She was the recipient of several teaching awards at the University of Virginia

Adoption and the Internet: Untangling the Web

Adam Pertman
Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

Adam Pertman is Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. Pertman – a former Pulitzer-nominated journalist – is also Associate Editor of Adoption Quarterly and the author of two books published in 2011, Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming Our Families – and America and “Gay and Lesbian Adoption: A New Dimension in Family Diversity, and has written many other chapters and articles on adoption- and family-related issues in books, scholarly journals and mass-market publications. Pertman has delivered hundreds of keynotes, trainings and other presentations in this country and internationally for organizations including the Child Welfare League of America, the American Adoption Congress, the National Academy of Sciences, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange, the National Association of Child Advocates, and numerous professionals including judges, social workers, psychiatrists, educators and journalists – as well as pre-adoptive and adoptive parents, birthparents and adopted persons. As a leading expert on adoption and family issues, he is widely quoted in the media and has been a guest on many programs, including “Oprah,” “Today,” “The View” and “Nightline.”

Mary Fournier

Bio Forthcoming

Youth Speak: The Teen Years from the Inside Out

Kim Stevens, M.Ed.
Project Manager, Community Champions Network, North American Council on Adoptable Children.

Kim Stevens is Project Manager for the Community Champions Network of the North American Council on Adoptable Children. CCN is working to support communities in building advocacy coalitions to establish effective post adoption support services.Her prior professional experience includes eight years with Massachusetts Families for Kids. Kim moved from part-time Family Advocacy Coordinator to Co-Director of MFFK. Kim established the Speak Out Team, a nationally recognized model for youth advocacy and awareness raising. The seven founding members and staff were able to support and facilitate a Team that grew to more than 130 members. She also launched the Lifelong Families for Adolescents initiative with the Massachusetts Department of Social Services and assisted in successful advocacy for post-adoption services in Massachusetts.

Kim has provided training and consultation on foster care, adoption and youth permanency issues throughout the U.S. and Canada. She and her husband, Buddy have six children, four of whom were adopted from the public foster care system.

Who Am I? Where Do I Belong?

David Brodzinsky, Ph.D.
Research & Project Director, Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
Professor Emeritus of Clinical and Developmental Psychology at Rutgers University.

For the past three decades, his research and scholarly writing has focused primarily on issues related to the adjustment of adopted children and their families. He is especially well known for his research on developmental and family issues in adoption. Dr. Brodzinsky relocated to Oakland, CA, in 2006, where he maintains a private clinical and consultative practice focusing on the mental health needs of members of the adoption kinship system. He has been a consultant to countless public and private adoption agencies and has conducted training workshops on adoption and foster care throughout North America and Europe. He has published widely on the psychology of adoption in professional journals and is the co-author or co-editor of six books on adoption, the most recent one being Adoption by Lesbians and Gay Men: A New Dimension in Family Diversity (with Adam Pertman).

Sally Popper, Ph.D., M.Ed.
Clinical Psychologist and Consultant

Sally Popper is a clinical psychologist and consultant working with several agencies and initiatives in the Pioneer Valley, including the Re-Envisioning Foster Care Task Force. Prior to moving to the Pioneer Valley, she was involved in private practice psychotherapy, focusing on treatment of families with children who had experienced loss, trauma, or abuse. She has also conducted training and supervision for therapists working with children who have experiences of attachment disruption and trauma. Popper received her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Rutgers University and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She has received advanced clinical training in working with children who have attachment issues. She is co-author of Attachment Focused Therapy: A Professional Practice Guide, published by the association for the Training and Treatment on the Attachment of Children.