In early April, I journeyed to Amherst, Massachusetts to present at the UMASS Rudd Adoption Research Program Conference. The conference is an annual gathering of academics from all over the United States where the biggest names in research, including Ruth McRoy and Ellen Pinderhughes, were on hand to represent their work on family preservation, openness in adoptions for birthmothers, minority recruitment, and racial identity development.
Armed with preconceptions of what an academic research conference would be like, I carefully studied up on recent cutting-edge research and publications. I feared that my lack of academic credentials would leave me woefully unprepared to communicate or that my decade of direct practice within the adoption field would pale in comparison to the caliber of folks I’d be interacting with. As an adoptee without any advanced degrees, I felt an immense honor, duty and responsibility to ensure that my presentation matched the rigor of my counterparts.
But as I mingled with other speakers and presenters at the Chancellor’s home for the pre-conference reception, I quickly learned that my anxiety about interacting with such esteemed professionals was unfounded—silly, even. Although many conversations were laced with academic jargon, I was able to make sense of their profundities.
I was attending the conference to give a presentation with fellow adoptee and adoption services colleague Steve Kalb of Holt International Children Services entitled “How Adoptees Are Shaping Post-Adoption Services.” We were humbled to be invited, as it conveyed the message that there is value in hearing from adoptees who are serving as adoption professionals. And we were proud to share about the great strides adoptees have taken to influence post-adoption services best practices, such as the creation of open source transracial adoption training tools like The Adopted Life Series and child-centered programs such as the Holt Adoptee Camp.
Read the rest of my piece here.