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Identity in Adoption

Estimated: 1 1/2 Hours

Mirrors and Windows

Have you ever wondered just how much nature vs. nurture will play a role in your adopted child's identity formation?

How will they balance these influences as they pull together their own understanding of who they are?

What can you do to help them?

Join moderator Leah Bloom, LMFT, an adopted person who was adopted from Korea, as she leads our panel of adopted persons through a discussion about the intricacies of identity formation in adoption. Our panel - adopted domestically, internationally and from foster care -  will reflect back on their own experiences and answer YOUR questions about such things as:

1. What their adoptive parents did that helped them through the journey and what they wish their parents had done

2. Privacy concerns in sharing their adoption story

3. Feelings of loss related to their adoption and what tends to trigger this

4. Curiosity and feelings about biological parents and how much they identify with them

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Session Leader:

Leah Bloom

Leah Bloom, LMFT, is a faculty member at the Chicago Center For Family Health and trained at Northwestern University at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate level. As a clinician with a private practice in Chicago's downtown Loop, she brings her experience of interpersonal and inner-personal psychotherapy to her clients. Ranging from Individuals, Couples, and Families of all kinds, she creates a supportive environment for all her clients who seek to discover who they are in the world and the change they hope to create for themselves. Leah has a particular ability to join with children and adolescents, and has a specialization in both Domestic and International Adoption. Trained as a systemic and family therapist, she brings in all areas of the client's life into their work together — creating change that makes a difference.

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Session Leader:

Amber Clingman

Amber Clingman was a standout high school student. She was a varsity cheerleader, class president, and member of the Key Club. Her 4.0 grade point average placed her in the National Honor Society, and she graduated at the top of her class. But her experience at home was a world away.

After years of moving around and family instability, Amber and her younger brother entered foster care when she was in 9th grade. She was granted independent living status at age 17 before aging out of the foster care system. Because she had completed the majority of her high school and Advanced Placement credits in three years, she spent most of her senior year working, maintaining her own apartment, and attending parent/teacher conferences on her brother's behalf.

Today, Amber is a Family Recruiter for Operation Forever Family, a Bethany Christian Services initiative to find loving foster and adoptive families for teens. She works closely with five teen girls in foster care, working to connect them with families and helping them navigate this uncertain time in their lives.

"Others have learned it, but I have lived it," she says, finding that her difficult past creates a natural rapport with the girls, facilitating trust and open conversations. She shares her story with the girls as someone who has walked in their shoes and can help them envision a promising future.

Amber is currently pursuing a degree in social work from Grand Valley State University, and she hopes to one day design new options for teens living in residential programs.

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Session Leader:

Kevin Hofmann

Kevin Hofmann is the author of Growing Up Black in White, a memoir that shares, from the adoptee point of view, what it was like to grow up as a transracial adoptee.

He is also an accomplished writer and public speaker who has a passion for adoption, especially transracial adoption, and enjoys sharing from his experiences to help other adoptive families.

Kevin works in the field of child welfare as a recruiter for the Dave Thomas Foundation and Wendy's Wonderful Kids, finding permanent homes for foster children. Kevin has been interviewed on NPR and Nightline ABC and is quickly becoming a trusted voice in the adoption arena.

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Session Leader:

Carmen Knight

Carmen Knight is an international transracial adoptee from Peru. She has her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. Carmen has been working in the adoption community since 2006, and is currently working as an adoptive parent counselor at The Cradle.

Some of her past experiences in the adoption field include working at culture camps and adoptee camps, leading classes and seminars on adoption topics at conferences and for various adoption agencies, speaking on adoptee panels, and helping families prepare logistically and emotionally for touring their child's country of birth.

Carmen has also provided emotional support to families and individuals doing birth searches and reunions. Her encompassing knowledge aligned with her passion has guided countless families who have come together through adoption.

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Session Leader:

Martha Osborne

Martha created RainbowKids.com Adoption Advocacy website in 1996 with the purpose of finding homes for children labeled "special needs". Martha is herself an adoptee and the mother of 5 children through adoption. Since its conception RainbowKids has grown into a trusted on-line advocacy force for international children needing families. Networking with over 70 adoption agencies and numerous advocacy groups and humanitarian organizations that share the same vision, RainbowKids has assisted over 11,000 children in finding their way home.

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