A Biennial Adoption Conference

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The 9th Biennial Adoption Conference

Myth and Reality in Adoption:

Transforming Practice Through Lessons Learned

New Spring Season: June 9-11, 2016

Thursday evening through Saturday afternoon

New Conference Site: Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey


Over the past 15 years, the Adoption Initiative has developed conferences centered around themes addressing ethics, religion, race, class, adolescence, birth and adoptive family communication, and the need for the mental health community to gain adoption competence. Drawing upon our tradition of using a critical lens to examine and explore adoption practice, policy, and positioning, we are pleased to announce the theme and title of our 9th Biennial Adoption Initiative Conference:
Myth and Reality in Adoption: Transforming Practice Through Lessons Learned

For the 2016 conference, we will draw upon the lessons that the history of adoption and the practice of adoption have taught us. Over time, adoption practice has shifted from a practice focused upon social reform targeting marginalized members of society to a more modern practice in which adoption is marketed as both a form of family creation and as a form of rescue within a larger industry. These shifts in adoption practice have taken place largely at the behest of those wielding social and political power, whereas those most affected by adoption—children, their families, and their communities—have often had little to no power to affect these portrayals. The gap between myth and reality in adoption may create challenges for those who are impacted by actions outside of their agency, voice, and control.  

For this conference, we will explore the ways in which adoption has been portrayed on multiple levels: personally, interpersonally, socially, and politically. Marketing, media, films, and music all portray adoption in various ways using both positive and negative lenses, but what have we learned from these portrayals? How have these portrayals contributed to the myths that exist about adoption, adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents? What information and “lessons” are needed to correct misinformation, assumptions, and biased judgments? Furthermore, how can adoption practice (e.g., adoption placement and post-adoption support) better inform and be transformed by replacing myths with realistic lived adoption knowledge and by drawing upon the lessons we have learned through the history of adoption practice? With these questions in mind, we seek proposals that address the connections and dissonances between adoption’s history, mythology, and lived reality, and which propose active guidelines for future practice.

call for papers 2016 adoption conference

On behalf of the Planning Committee, we invite proposal submissions for papers, poster presentations, and research manuscripts for the Ninth Biennial Adoption Initiative Conference.

We actively seek proposals which address issues related to transforming practice in adoption. Ideally such proposals will be designed to have a positive impact on those individuals, families, and communities affected by adoption. This Call for Papers is specifically aimed at adoption professionals, researchers, scholars, clinicians, educators, social workers, activists, allies, and graduate students.

The goal of this conference, as always, is to present thought-provoking themes relevant to the training of mental-health professionals in the field. It further focuses on the personal growth and deeper understanding of individuals, families, and communities affected by adoption. Our 2016 conference will examine myths and portrayals of adoption practice, and will analyze these as compared to its lived reality. Especially welcome are submissions that illustrate the ways in which adoption is mythologized, portrayed, and marketed, often in direct contrast to how it is experienced, processed, and lived.

We welcome participation from those whose identities are informed by the impact of adoption on their lives, and whose voices are often overlooked and marginalized by its practice. We especially invite proposals that take a social justice approach to adoption practice, focusing on those whose lives and rights are primarily impacted by the nature and goals of the practice as it applies to them.

Possible Topics

The 2016 conference theme highlights the historical practice of adoption (e.g., adoption policy, adoption placement, post-adoption services, etc.), with an eye on establishing guidelines for the future. This focus on the gap between the mythology and reality of adoption allows for a critical gaze on adoption practice, but also affords the possibility of establishing paradigms and guidelines for practice based in the lessening of this distance. Papers and presentations should include a critical consideration of the current status quo and discourse of adoption, as compared to its lived reality not just for adoptees, but for families and communities that are affected.

The following are examples for possible papers, poster presentations, and sessions (please note: these are merely suggestions):
  1. Technology

  • DNA and the science of search and reunion
  • Examination of how the demands and rights of adoptees align with persons born through procreative sciences
  • Snowflake embryos, “cryo-kids”, donors, surrogacy, etc.
  • Internet-based adoption searches, crowd funding of adoptions, rehoming
  1. Portrayals of adoption

  • How various forms of adoption (open, transracial, international, guardianship, etc.) are portrayed, marketed, and sold to triad members and the general public
  • How historical adoption events are portrayed to the general public
  • Adoption portrayals “purified” of the taint of child trafficking, marketing “choice” to pregnant women, race-based sliding scale adoption fees, and rehoming practices
  • Branding of children available for adoption as “orphans”, even when their parents are living
  1. New practices in psychology

  • Adoption trauma - the effects of adoption and adoption trauma on the brain and on personal development across the lifespan
  • What psychologists, social workers, and therapists need to know about the triad experience. How public mythology leads to ineffective and/or damaging interventions when under-educated professionals are involved.
  • Recognizing a normative adoptee experience as opposed to a pathologized view, and developing best practices and sharing effective interventions
  1. Identity and self-awareness

  • Identifying microaggressions, providing tools to recognize and advocate against microaggressions in interpersonal, institutional, and structural portrayal of adoption
  • Identity formation for adoptees who are members of multiple marginalized communities: disability, LGBT, transnational, and racial groups, or in non-traditional adoptive families
  • Race identity journey for the trans-racially adopted person and the ongoing impacts felt throughout adulthood, marriage, and parenting
  1. New practices in education

  • School to prison pipeline and mass incarceration (The New Jim Crow) and its impact on black and brown adoptees and the use of Restorative/Transformative Justice
  • Educating our educators, mental health and social work professionals about micro-aggressions and their impact on adoptees, and the intersections of race, adoption and gender (identity and expression) and family
  • What major curricular changes need to occur in undergraduate and graduate programs training students for professions influencing policies or child welfare practices shaping foster care and adoption
  • Advocacy and information for school counselors, school psychologists, teachers, and administrators
  1. Activist practice

  • Growing divides in the activist community, including the impact of voices from religious groups, anti-adoption advocates, for profit businesses, legal scholars, and triad members
  • A movement away from examination of individual adoption stories to an examination of the systemic, institutional, political, societal, cultural, economic, and geopolitical policies and structures that create the current environment where adoption continues to exist to serve the needs of the power classes for family creation, colonization, and non-organic proselytizing
  • Activism through film, music, blogs, books, and essays, and legislative work both here in the U.S. and abroad
  1. Legal practices

  • The hierarchy of rights with regard to the child’s “best interests” including adoptees’ children, wills and inheritance, non-adopted siblings, birth siblings growing up in different families
  • Adoptee deportation and the notion of citizenry/nationality
  • How governmental policies impact adoptees’ views of themselves and their adoptions (e.g., China's One Child Policy)
  • Analysis of legal cases in the news (e.g., Baby Veronica; the Rep. Justin Harris re-homing case)

Proposal Submission Guidelines

Guidelines on Time Allotted for Different Formats Papers/Presentations: 30 to 45 minutes Workshops: 60 to 90 minutes Symposiums: 60 to 90 minutes Panels: 60 to 90 minutes Roundtables: 30-45 minutes Posters:  48” x 60”

The deadline to submit proposals for papers, workshops, symposiums, and panels is November 16, 2015 at 11:59 PM EST.

The deadline to submit poster presentations is February 1, 2016.

New Proposal Submission Process

Proposals are submitted online on the Adoption Initiative Conference Registration and Submission website located at

Please complete the Adoption Initiative Conference Submission Form found at the website Proposals will only be admissible if submitted through the online submission system on or before the applicable submission due dates at 11:59 PM EST.

You will be asked to provide detailed information on presenters, the type of presentation, and a detailed description of the presentation (see detailed list below).  Presenters are required to upload CVs and personal digital photos. Required submission proposal information includes the following:
  1. Primary Author/Presenter and Affiliation(s)
  2. Contact Information for Primary Author/Presenter (e.g., address, phone, email)
  3. Co-Presenter(s) and Affiliation(s)
  4. Contact Information for Co-Presenter(s) (e.g., address, phone, email)
  5. Title of Presentation
  6. Format: Paper Presentation/Poster/Panel/Symposium/Workshop/Rountable
  7. Goals (list 3)
  8. Content Description of the Presentation (750-300 words or less)
  9. Intended Audience
  10. Summary for Brochure (50 words or less)
  11. Curriculum Vitae/ Resumes for all presenters
  12. Statement on Originality of Presentation (Has this workshop/presentation been presented prior to this conference? If so, when? Where? How many times?
  13. Review of Required Documentation Form
Presenters are required to complete the submission form in its entirety.  Incomplete submissions forms will not be considered for review. Overall acceptance rates vary in any given year and not all proposals will be accepted.  The proposal review committee will evaluate each proposal based on the following criteria:
  1. The proposal clearly addresses a topic related to the conference strands and/or the theme, Myth and Reality in Adoption: Transforming Practice Through Lessons Learned Organization and clarity.
  2. The proposal highlights best practices, new policy developments, innovative critical analysis and/or effective methods for promoting effective clinical practice in adoption.
  3. The proposed presentation includes approaches and strategies that can be implemented across disciplines.
  4. The proposed method for engaging audience participants is thoughtful, intentional, and appropriate.
  5. The proposal abstract (which will be included in the conference program) is well written, adheres to the word limit, and clearly describes the main points of the presentation and the intended audience.
Paper, panel, symposium, and workshop presenters selected will be notified via e-mail by end of January 2016 and are expected to register for the conference no later than March 28, 2016. Presenters may receive reduced registration fees.

Conference registration is expected to be open on September 30, 2015. Poster presenters selected will be notified via email by end of February 2016. Any questions regarding the proposal submission process should be forwarded to conference organizers at the following email address: Visit the Adoption Initiative Conference Registration and Submission website at to register for the conference, submit proposals, and reserve lodging.

Registration is expected to open September 30, 2015.
'Call for Papers'  Now Open!

The deadline to submit proposals for papers, workshops, symposiums, and panels is November 16, 2015 at 11:59 PM EST. The deadline to submit poster presentations is February 1, 2016. 


Read up on the 2016 Adoption Conference theme 
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