Expert Voices in Adoption Conference


Saturday, November 20, 2021

Don’t miss the only full-day, virtual National Adoption Awareness Month event solely featuring the voices of adoptee-clinicians on Nov. 20th! The 2021 Expert Voices in Adoption Conference will be hosted by adoptee and psychologist Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker and highlight a full line-up of incredible adoptees with expertise in the human services and mental health fields. Topics will focus on the lived experiences of adopted individuals, with an emphasis on unique concepts that showcase a deeper understanding of the mental health needs of adoptees. Adult adoptees, adoptive caregivers, and adoption professionals are welcome to attend. AVAILABLE LIVE & RECORDED FOR ALL REGISTRANTS; recording will be sent the day after live air and viewable through Dec. 31st. This conference will kick off a series of monthly hour-long webinars starting in 2022.

See full registration details below!

Presentation Schedule

9:15-10:15 a.m. MST Post-Adoption: International Adoptees Searching for Biological Family
This presentation, by experienced clinician and transracial and international adoptee Jaclyn Skalnik, will explore motivations to “search” including cross-cultural considerations and expectations.

Jaclyn SkalnikAdoptee Presenter: Jaclyn Skalnik, LCSW (she/her) is a seasoned, trauma-informed, adoption competent clinician specializing in supporting and empowering transracially adopted individuals. She specializes in transracial adoption, attachment, grief & loss, identity exploration, racial equity and social justice. As an international and transracially adopted person, she weaves her personal experiences into professional training to offer perspective and insight. Jaclyn is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in the state of Wisconsin, a public speaker, a national trainer for adoption competency, adoptive parent coach, adoption consultant, adoptive family homeland journey social worker and have facilitated international birth-family searches and reunions. Learn more about Jaclyn at, Facebook: Adoption Wellness, and IG: @thetransracialadopteetherapist.

10:30-11:30 a.m. MST Reintegration and Healing of Birth Culture and Identity
In this presentation three topics will be explored: alternative methods to consider to alleviate adoption trauma; ancestral medicine (temazcal, plant medicine, family constellations, psychogenealogy), the process of reintegrating our birth culture and identity conflict, and finally we will take a closer look between the similarities and differences between psychotherapy and the personal journey of healing from a spiritual lens.

Elena DiGiovanni SerratoAdoptee Presenter: Elena Di Giovanna Serrato, LICSW (she/her/ella) is an international adoptee from Colombia and grew up in the US along with her twin sister. She has lived in Argentina, Spain and the Dominican Republic and currently lives in Bogotá, Colombia where she has called home for the last five years. Before moving back to Colombia, she worked in the foster care system and in Washington, DC public schools as a school social worker. She currently teaches English and supports/guides other Colombian adoptees in their first family search, reunion, and in the reacculturation process through her non-profit organization Healing Puentes. Learn more about Elena at IG: healingpuentes, FB: Healing Puentes, and

12:30-2:00 p.m. MST Panel on Navigating National Adoption Awareness Month as an Adoptee and Clinician


Susan BrancoAdoptee Panelist: Susan Branco, PhD, LPC (VA), LCPC (MD), NCC, ACS, BC-TMH, is a transracial and transnational adoptee from Colombia, South America. She is an advocate for increased adoption related research and training within counselor education and is passionate about improving mental health outcomes for transracially adopted persons. Susan is a practicing counselor and a tenure track Assistant Professor in the Counselor Education program at St. Bonaventure University. Her research interests include transracial adoption and mental health, Colombian adoption policy, and clinical training and supervision practices for BIPOC counselors. Learn more about Dr. Branco at, @drsusan_branco (twitter), and #drsusanbranco(Insta).

Meggin Nam HoltzAdoptee Panelist: Meggin (Nam) Holtz, LMSW (she/her) is a Korean American adoptee. Nam has been involved in adoption advocacy, awareness, and support for over a decade. Her award-winning documentary film, “Found in Korea,” about birth search, identity, and adoption was created to serve as a catalyst for conversations about adoption among youth and adults. She served as the Teen Mentor facilitator at “All Together Now,” a support group for adoptees and their families, wrote, “Who Cut My Umbilical Cord?” published in “Flip the Script – an Adoptee Anthology,” and holds an MSW with a focus in child and adolescent trauma from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Currently Nam supports adopted people on both micro and macro levels by providing clinical support to transracially adopted youth, adolescents, and adults and families, and educating about adoption as a public speaker. Nam supports and advocates for Citizenship for all Adoptees, and Original Birth Certificate access. Learn more about Nam at and

Adoptee Panelist: Jeri Lea Kroll, LMSW is a psychotherapist, parent coach and reflective supervisor specializing in attachment, early childhood, grief/loss, trauma, adoption and the impact of early experiences on relationships and health across the lifespan. Her experiences as a domestic newborn adoptee have been the driving force for exploring the origins of things, especially our lives and our most important relationships. Learn more about Jeri Lea at www.JeriLeaKroll,com and on Facebook and IG as Jeri Lea Kroll, LMSW.

Kathy MackechneyAdoptee Panelist: Kathy Mackechney, LCSW is an adoptee and therapist who works with other adoptees. Kathy uses IFS (Internal Family Systems) to help adoptees heal the parts of them that were wounded by having been relinquished/removed and adopted. Kathy has been in reunion for 21 years and has close relationships with a paternal aunt and maternal cousins. Learn more about Kathy at and the Adoptee Therapy Facebook page.

Cam Lee SmallAdoptee Panelist: Cam Lee Small, LPCC has been working to raise consciousness about faith, child welfare, and mental health since 2012, after meeting his biological mother in Korea. Trans-racially adopted and founder of Therapy Redeemed, he holds a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a licensed professional clinical counselor. Cam is PACC certified, and registered as an accredited service provider through TAC via Center for Adoption Support and Education. He is also a vetted clinician with MN ADOPT. He provides therapy services online from Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he lives with his wife and family. Find Cam’s adoption-related dialogue on instagram at @therapyredeemed and

Sabrina StarnesAdoptee Panelist: Sabra D. Starnes, LCSW, RPT-S is a licensed clinical social worker in Maryland and Washington, DC. She has worked as a clinical social worker in the Washington, DC area, for over 23 years in various settings, hospitals, adoption agencies, schools, daycares, outpatient clinics and inpatient treatment centers. Sabra has a Masters in Social Work from Catholic University and a Master’s in Education from American University. She has her certification in Sand Tray, Play Therapy, EMDR, Brainspotting. She specializes in adoption, foster care, parenting issues and skills. She is very knowledgeable on support resources in the DMV, and often provides guidance to those needing immediate support. As a lifelong learner, she enjoys attending trainings, workshops and self-guided learning on new skills and techniques to enhance her clinical work with children, adults, families and couples.

2:15-3:15 p.m. MST Not Enough: Eating Disorders and Transracial Adoptees
Disordered eating and/or eating disorders (ED) such as food restriction, orthorexia, anorexia-nervosa, bulimia, bingeing and purging, is a global health crisis which as resulted in negative health outcomes, long-term illness, family stress, and even premature death. There is a lack of research and direct discussion related to ED/disordered eating within the adoption communityparticularly impacting adoptees of color. This workshop will explore the intersectional aspects of racial, sexual, gender identity and expression, early history, genetics, and expression and how acculturation, family separation, and placement may influence transracial adoptee’s relationship with food, sense of security, and nourishment. In addition, exploration related to trauma-inclusive and multicultural clinical assessment, intervention, and treatment will be explored through an adoption-informed framework.

Melanie JaeHee Chung-ShermanAdoptee Presenter: Melanie (JaeHee) Chung-Sherman, LCSW, PLLC (she, her, hers) is a licensed clinical social worker, licensed child-placing administrator, and TSBSWE-Board approved clinical supervisor through the State of Texas. She is a Certified Theraplay® Practitioner and Trainer. She is the Regional 3 Representative for the NASW-Texas State Board of Directors. In addition, she is also a doctoral student at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa’s DSW program (Roll Tide Roll!). Melanie is also the founder and owner of a private practice in North Dallas where she specializes in working with clients who have experienced complex trauma. She is the Clinical Regional Manager for the Eating Recovery Center’s VIOP for the South. She has worked in the field of child welfare, mental health, university counseling, medical social work, transracial adoption, and women/femme of color issues since 1999. Learn more about Melanie at and

3:30-4:30 p.m. MST Finding and Being an Adoption Competent Therapist
What exactly does “adoption competent” mean? How do you know a therapist is competent in family separation, and how can therapists attain this status? Providing therapeutic care to people with adoption and family separation experiences is a specialization, wherein lived experience, comfort with the topic, or idealized notions of adoption are not adequate to provide quality care. A functional knowledge of intersecting issues such as race, culture, international and transracial adoption, immigration status, search and reunion, self-harm, disordered eating, suicidality, personality disorders, enmeshed family systems, family secrets, complex post-traumatic stressand moreis necessary to specialize. Without this knowledge clinicians risk inadvertently harming clients. Therapists who attend this training will come away with a better understanding of what qualifies as “adoption competent” and be able to create a plan for ways to move forward, and non-clinicians will have a better idea about what to look for in clinicians.

Katy PerkinsAdoptee Presenter: Katy Perkins, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice providing therapy, professional training, case consultation and policy analysis in CO, FL, IL, TX, and NC. Katy specializes in family separation, sexual/domestic violence, cultural competence, and childhood trauma. She is a founding board member of STAR (Support TX Adoptee Rights), a member of TX Association Against Sexual Assault, TX Council for Family Violence, National Association of Social Workers, and Adoption Knowledge Affiliates. Her experience includes community, state, and national advocacy as a leader and volunteer. Katy has been reunited with her first family for more than 20 years. Learn more about Katy at and on INSTAGRAM: @kplcsw.

Registration Information


The conference will be available live & recorded to all registrants. A link to the recording will be emailed to all registrants the day after live air. The recording will be viewable until Dec. 31, 2021. CEUs and attendance certificates are not available.

Registration fee: $150 (non-refundable & non-transferable)

Upcoming 2022 Webinars in the
Expert Voices in Adoption Series

Transforming Trauma: Rewire Your Brain for Resilience and Joy
Speaker: Lesli Johnson, LMFT
Friday, January 21, 2022 @ 12PM-1PM-MST
Register here

The Unrecognized Developmental Trauma of Early Relinquishment in Adoption
Speaker: Meggin Nam Holtz, LMSW
Wednesday, February 23, 2022 @ 6PM-7PM-MST
Register here

This is Why I Was Adopted: Navigating Loss on a Journey Toward Hope
Speaker: Cam Lee Small, LPCC
Thursday, March 24, 2022 @ 11:30AM-12:30PM-MDT
Register here

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