The Rudd Adoption Research Program hosted 6 virtual sessions throughout the 2020-21 academic year for our first ever virtual conference. Themes of connectedness, identity, and healing were discussed through the lens of intergenerational relationships. Primarily moderated by inaugural Program Chair, Dr. Hollee McGinnis, assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, we spoke with 20 experts in the field of adoption research to gather their insights as those making policy and legislative changes, clinicians, researchers, and community builders in the form of support groups, mentorship programs, and the arts of filmmaking and creative writing. It is our hope that you find these videos useful and incorporate them into your teaching curriculum, clinical practices, and efforts to affect change in adoption policies. See below for session descriptions, video access, and speaker bios.
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.
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.
- Birth Mothers Now Grandmothers (Addie Wyman Battalen, Harvard & Boston College)
- Intergenerationality of Korean Adoptee Parents (JaeRan Kim, University of Washington Tacoma)
- The Later Lives of Adoptive Families (Julia Rimmer, University of East Anglia)
- Panel Discussion
Fall 2020 Session 3: 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. 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?
Visit the Side by Side website to view video clips produced by Glenn Morey.
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.
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 Barsh, Heewon Lee, Richard 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 3: Migrating Towards Wholeness: Adult Adoptee and Writing to Heal
We will be joined by Liz DeBetta, an alumna of our Summer Adoption Research Institute for a truly innovative session. During this presentation and discussion, you will learn about the curriculum Liz created that utilizes expressive writing as an opportunity for adult adoptees to begin to migrate trauma and begin to heal. This session is an opportunity to listen and learn from the experiences of a group of adult adoptees ranging in age from their 20's through their 60's, some of whom this has been the first safe space for them to share their stories safely.