The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Program - Virtual Conference 2020-21

Program Details


Spring 2021 Session 2: Genetic Testing for Health & Birth Search

During this live session, we will explore the different benefits and risks posed by genetic testing and genetic counseling, as well as look into the factors that drive adoptees and adoptive parents to attempt to uncover answers through genetics. We will be speaking with researchers, Greg BarshHeewon LeeRichard Lee, and Tom May who have focused their work on investigating the various options available to adoptees while on their journey to discover answers through genetic testing.

Spring 2021 Session 1: Authorizing our own pathways and counterspaces of resilience and healing: Navigating adoption and other displacements in Adulthood

View the extended Q&A from after the session! Our speakers provide answers to your questions from the chat that we were unable to get through during the live session. The spring 2021 series will focus on navigating adulthood and constructing a sense of identity. During session 1 we'll be speaking with Dr. Gina Samuels from the University of Chicago about developing an adult identity that incorporates adoption as well as the other important aspects of one's life. Doing family and race through transracial adoption as the person who is adopted means a never-ending negotiation of family, identity, race, and belonging—core elements of basic human development across the life course. But the fact of our adoption often causes ambiguous losses and degrees of disconnections from information, relationships, and places core to these processes of development. This keynote will explore the many ways in which pathways of resilience and healing are often articulated for us and in turn, invalidate, distort, or harm our own developmental capacities and needs into adulthood. This keynote will both challenge monolithic assumptions about what is “healthy” or “normal” and invite listeners to envision pathways and spaces for a more diverse array of possibilities for doing race, family and identity that are located in standpoints of adopted persons’ diverse needs and lived experiences. Dr. Samuels will be joined by fellow adoption researchers April Curtis and Tim Monti-Wohlpart who will provide insight on the keynote based on their years of experience improving adoption advocacy by influencing policy and legislature. 

Dr. Gina Samuels
April Curtis
Tim Monti-Wohlpart


Fall 2020 Session 1: Intergenerational Relationships and Community Connections

This session highlights the experiences of three generations of adult adoptees (adopted in the 1950s, 1970s, and 1990s; from Korea and Russia) and addresses how adopted adults have developed strong connections within the adoption community and are now providing global leadership for those connections.

Hollee McGinnis
Susan Cox
Albert Gilbert
Grace O’Neil

Fall 2020 Session 2: Intergenerational Relationships

Much of the existing research on adopted persons focuses on children and adolescents. However, recent research is focusing on the important transitions that occur when adult adoptees become parents, and when adoptive and birth parents become grandparents. This session is composed of 4 video segments: 3 brief 10-15 minute sessions highlighting research being conducted by Addie Wyman Battalen, JaeRan Kim, and Julia Rimmer, respectively; and a panel discussion involving the 3 researchers as well as Chris Downs and Joe Kroll, moderated by Hal Grotevant. You can watch the videos in any order, but watching the 3 shorter presentations first will give you some helpful background for the panel.

JaeRan Kim
Julia Rimmer
Addie Wyman Battalen
Joe Kroll
Chris Downs

Fall 2020 Session 3: Clinical Approaches -- Growing Up Adopted 

Adults who have been adopted or cared for in foster care have often used their experiences creatively, producing written memoirs and anthologies, poetry, performance, and documentaries. Art has often been used for meaning making and healing, and yet often clinically trained therapists do not utilize the arts as part of treatment. In this session Glenn Morey, a Korean adoptee, will share two short clips from his project Side by Side: The filming of 100 first-person narratives of adoption and aging out of Korean orphanages focuses on the themes of growing up adopted and search for birth family. (Register below to receive links to the clips) Mental health professionals who work with adoptees will then engage with the filmmaker to think about: How are adult adoptees and foster alumni narratives valuable for professionals? What are the roles of arts and healing? What can the arts teach clinicians about how to help clients?

Register here to receive the Side by Side video clips.

Glenn Morey
Amanda Baden
Susan Branco