Expert Voices in Adoption Webinar Series 2022

The Expert Voices In Adoption Webinar Series is hosted by adoptee, adoptive parent, and psychologist Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker. Each month features an adoptee speaker 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. All webinars will be recorded and available to view for at least 30 days after live air. Fee: $25 (non-transferable, non-refundable). Registration details are below.


2022 Webinar Schedule

Reclaiming our Ancestors: Colombian Transnational Adoptee Search and Reunion
Speaker: Susan Branco, PhD, LPC, LCPC
Friday, May 20, 2022 @ 2:00-3:00PM-MDT
REGISTRATION CLOSED

Not All Parts Get Adopted
Speaker: Kathy Mackechney LCSW
Thursday, June 9, 2022 @ 3:30-4:30PM-MDT
Register here

july 12 webinarAddressing the Impact of Grief and Trauma on Very Young Adoptees and their Parents:
Moving Beyond a “Wait and See” Approach

Speaker: Jeri Lea Kroll LMSW
Tuesday, July 12, 2022 @ 12:30-1:30PM MDT
Register here

Attachment and Parenting as Adoptees
Speaker: Spring Hecht, LICSW
Tuesday, August 9, 2022 @ 12:00-1:00PM-MDT
Register here



Reclaiming Our Ancestors: Colombian Transnational Adoptee Search and Reunion
Adoptee Presenter: Susan Branco, PhD, LPC, LCPC
Friday, May 20, 2022 @ 2:00-3:00PM-MDT
REGISTRATION CLOSED

Dr. Susan Branco provides findings related to research on adult Colombian transnational adoptee search and reunion experiences with first families. The process of searching, motivating factors, and experiences with first family members in Colombia are described. Implications for adoption professionals and mental health providers will be discussed.

Susan BrancoDr. Susan Branco (she/her/ella), a transracial and transnational adoptee from Colombia, is passionate about improving mental health outcomes for transracially adopted persons. Susan is a Licensed Professional Counselor and assistant professor in the clinical mental health and school counseling master’s program at St. Bonaventure University. She earned a PhD in counselor education and supervision, a post master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling. For over 14 years she maintained an independent practice working with members of the adoption constellation. Currently she practices counseling with Spanish speaking and immigrant populations. Learn more about Dr. Branco’s work at drsusanbranco.com and on IG: @drsusanbranco.



Not All Parts Get Adopted
Adoptee Presenter: Kathy Mackechney LCSW
Thursday, June 9, 2022 @ 3:30-4:30PM-MDT
Register here

As an adoptee, have you ever felt like you don’t know who you really are—like you have a false self, or thought that there are hidden/ghost-like parts of you that even you don’t know? In IFS (Internal Family Systems), we view everybody as consisting of different parts and what we call Self, with a capital “S.” As an adoptee and certified IFS therapist, I had a realization one day that not all parts get adopted. Some stay behind, with our original parents/families and hold valuable clues to who we were before we were relinquished and adopted. Learn more and maybe start exploring parts of you that didn’t get adopted.

Kathy MackechneyKathy Mackechney, LCSW, is an adoptee who became a therapist in order to help other adoptees, which she has been doing for 20 years. She knew she’d found her path when she started training in Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy 7 years ago, and since then, she has been helping adoptees heal the parts of themselves that were impacted by relinquishment and adoption. A certified IFS therapist, Kathy has presented on IFS with adoptees at the annual IFS conference.



Addressing the Impact of Grief and Trauma on Very Young Adoptees and their Parents: Moving Beyond a “Wait and See” Approach
Adoptee Presenter: Jeri Lea Kroll, LMSW
Tuesday, July 12, 2022 @ 12:30-1:30PM MDT
Register here

Too often agencies and families hold knowledge about the importance of our earliest experiences, the core issues in adoption AND a spirit of “wait and see” regarding babies and their newly adoptive parents. Infant and very young adoptees who have experienced stress and trauma in utero, at and after birth come with unique relational, sensory and regulatory needs. And many adoptive parents struggle with unprocessed grief, mismatched expectations, overwhelm, and isolation as they attempt to meet the needs of their growing child. What is the cost of our current systems’ “wait and see” approach? What is the alternative? In this workshop, Jeri Lea will share from her lived experiences as an adoptee (and adoptive parent) and her expertise as a therapist and consultant specializing in “infant mental health” (IMH). Participants will come away understanding the ways that unprocessed grief can show up in early parent-child relationships and how infant and early childhood mental health practices and practitioners can hold space for the unique needs of parents and very young adoptees, long before anyone catches the eye of our current mental/health care and educational systems.

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.



Attachment and Parenting as Adoptees
Adoptee Presenter: Spring Hecht, LICSW
Tuesday, August 9, 2022 @ 12:00-1:00PM-MDT

Register here

There are many unique experiences parenting as an adopted person. Becoming a first-time parent is a milestone and life transition that can trigger attachment wounds. This new role must be successfully integrated into the adoptee parent’s identity which can be more complex for the adopted person since identity is one of the seven lifelong issues in adoption. There are not many resources available to help adult adoptee parents or professionals working with this population. More training is needed to ensure adequate understanding of how to help these clients heal and cultivate healthy, secure attachments with their children and co-parent.

Spring HechtSpring Hecht is an adopted person from South Korea who has spent over 20 years working in the adoption field. Spring’s professional experiences include being a psychotherapist/clinical social worker, adoption agency administrator, public health researcher, adoption presenter and trainer. She has served on the Board of Trustees for the Washington Adoption Reunion Movement, Vashon Island School Board, and the Adoptee Mentoring Society, as well as chairing a committee for racial equity in education. Her current work includes private clinical practice in Seattle focused on supporting BIPOC adopted teens and adults, consulting, training and parent coaching and education. Learn more about Spring’s work at Healingworkstherapy.com.




Are you a mental health professional and adopted person who would like to present for the Expert Voices in Adoption webinars? Complete a presentation proposal to join the series!

Feedback on the Expert Voices in Adoption Series

Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker kicked off the Expert Voices In Adoption Webinar Series with a day-long conference in November 2021 that featured a full line-up of adoptee-clinicians. Read the incredible feedback attendees had to share about the presentations below!

“I thought the conference one of the best I’ve attended re adoption.”

“All of the sessions were excellent! The presenters had so much knowledge to share and I feel very grateful to have learned from each of them. I particularly liked the talk on eating disorders and the morning session on the question of searching. Lots to think about and process …”

“The presenters were very knowledgeable and so were the panelists. I learned a lot and I hope to watch again to go over what I missed! Personally as an adoptee, these panelists and clinicians are people I would consider mentors and trailblazers as they motivate me to reach my goal of also becoming an adoptee clinician but also giving me the reality of what it is like to be a clinician but also an adoptee.”

“All presentations were very clear, concise, and packed full of important information. The spectrum of topics covered was well-planned. I feel much better informed and have a renewed empathy for adoptees and adoption professionals.”

“They were all wonderful and very helpful information. I learned a great deal. Thank you!”



Join the Beyond Words mailing list to be the first to learn about new
adoption resources from Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker