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Adoption & Identity

Estimated: 1 1/2 Hours

nature, nurture and the lifelong journey to self

It’s an age old question, isn’t it? Nature vs. Nurture.

We know, of course, that this isn’t an either/or proposition. Both are part of us and influences of each are important building blocks to our sense of self. And this sense changes as we mature. Adoption can add a layer of complexity to this, too.

As an adopted person grows up, their understanding of who they are and what is influencing them becomes more nuanced and complex. Questions, for instance, about birth family or the circumstances of their placement may become more pointed and harder to answer. Or there may be a tendency to avoid the topic altogether.

As parents, we want to be there for our children as they struggle. Yet adopted persons, especially teens and 'tweens, may keep much of these adoption and identity struggles to themselves. So it’s hard to know how to help.

Join us as Michelle Madrid-Branch, an internationally placed adopted person, shares her personal struggles on the topic. An accomplished author and speaker, Michelle has explored her own journey to self more than most of us. Her insights are sharp and candid as she relays what it looked like for her to come to terms with the various, difficult aspects of her story and how she pieced together for herself the things that mattered going forward.

Building from Michelle's story, Carmen Knight, an experienced adoption therapist and transracially placed adopted person herself, will expand upon the lessons from Michelle's story and thereby help parents learn how to:

1. Identify opportunities to help your child process various pieces of their story

2. Empathize with their conflicting feelings of loss and stay part of the conversation

3. Recognize how common life events can serve as emotional triggers for adopted people

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Session Leader:

Michelle Madrid-Branch

Michelle Madrid-Branch is an author, speaker and global advocate for women and children. She is the Executive Producer and Host of The Greater Than Project, a documentary web series exploring the intrinsic greatness within women. Michelle enjoyed a decade-long successful career as a television news anchor and investigative journalist, including an Emmy nomination while on-air with ABC-TV. She has three books in print—The Tummy Mummy, Adoption Means Love: Triumph of the Heart, and Mascara Moments: Embracing the Woman in the Mirror—and is currently writing a fourth. Michelle has been referred to as a “world-wide voice on adoption” by Adoption Australia. She was inducted into the New Mexico Women’s Hall of Fame in 2006 and honored with the Governor’s Award for Outstanding New Mexico Women by Governor Bill Richardson. An international adoptee herself, she is the recipient of the 2004 Congressional Angels in Adoption Award.

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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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