Our Address:
12200 Fairhill Road, Floor A3
Fairhill Partners Collaborative Campus
Cleveland, OH 44120

Monday Evening Speaker Series

Adoption Network Cleveland is pleased to offer a VIRTUAL Monday Evening Speaker Series full of topics that are of interest to a broad audience impacted by adoption, kinship, and foster care. These programs are made possible by donors and presenters volunteering their time and they thrive thanks to the active participation of attendees.

The series pauses for summer, but we encourage everyone to experience prior series events by listening or watching from our catalog of recordings on YouTube.


Upcoming Presentations

Monday, September 9, 2024

8:00 PM - 9:00 PM ET

Adoption Memoirs: Inside Stories with Marianne Novy

Marianne will discuss her book Adoption Memoirs: Inside Stories (Temple University Press, 2024), which discusses 45 published books and two memoir-like films, by birth mothers, adoptees, and adoptive parents, about adoptions including same-race and transracial, domestic and international, with the largest number written in the 21st century. These memoirs depict happy moments but also the lasting pain of relinquishment, the racism and trauma that some adoptees experienced, and unexpected complexities of adoptive child-rearing for which parents were insufficiently prepared. A few adoptions portrayed were open from the start; most of the memoirs by adoptees and birth mothers and some by adoptive parents recount searches and the development of relationships after reunion.

About Marianne
Marianne Novy was born in Cleveland’s Florence Crittenton Home, met her birthmother in her early 30s, and maintained the relationship. She received her Ph.D. in Engllish from Yale. While she taught English and American literature as a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, she grew increasingly interested in how adoption has been portrayed in novels and plays. She co-founded and for some years co-chaired the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture, which now has a journal and a conference every other year, and wrote Reading Adoption: Family and Difference in Fiction and Drama, published in 2005 by the University of Michigan Press. She has authored four other books, all dealing with Shakespeare, and edited four, three about women’s literary and theatrical responses to his work. The fourth, Imagining Adoption: Essays on Literature and Culture, received the Choice award as an outstanding academic title of 2001. In Adoption Memoirs: Inside Stories, published in June 2024, she focuses on how people personally involved with adoption write about their experiences.

Monday, September 23, 2024

8:00 PM - 9:00 PM ET

An Adoptee's Reflections on Working in Adoption and Foster Care with Sandi Caesar

Sandra “Sandi” Caesar is an adoptee and, for many years worked as an adoption professional. She was born Cristina Rodriguez in Panama to a 14-year-old girl who parented her for most of her 1st year. Ultimately, she was placed for adoption by her maternal grandmother without the knowledge or consent of her birth mother. Sandi was adopted by a Black US Air Force family stationed in Panama at the time. Sandi was naturalized as a US citizen at age 2 and moved to Dayton, Ohio at 3 years old. Sandi has been reunited with her birthmother and maternal family in Panama since 2004. Sandi holds a B.S. degree in Human Development from Howard University and an M.S.W. from Indiana University. Like many people in social work, Sandi has found parallels between the work she was drawn to and her personal life – finding answers to many of her own life questions while working with people who are often at their most vulnerable. Sandi is excited to share her own evolution of thought, insights, and experiences working in foster care and adoption as an adoptee with you.

About Sandi
Sandi began her career in 1992 as a case manager at a neighborhood mental health center in Cleveland, then followed a co-worker from that agency to Harambee: Services for Black Families as an adoption social worker. It was her supervisor at Harambee who suggested she get involved with Adoption Network Cleveland (ANC). So, Sandi was introduced to ANC as a professional but remained involved as an adoptee. Sandi worked in adoption for four years before becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom with her 2 sons. She returned to work outside of the home in 2006 with the Indiana Department of Child Services where she remained for almost 12 years, working in foster care licensing, and serving as the state’s Adoption Manager for her last 6 years. In August 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, Sandi moved to Virginia accepting a position as supervisor with a foster care agency for 2 years. In this role she really began to see this work was taking a toll on her and common practices conflicted with her own beliefs on what was best for children.

Monday, October 7, 2024

8:00 PM - 9:00 PM ET

How to Bring Lightness to the Tough Stuff with Lauren LoGuidice​​​​​​​

Comedian Lauren LoGiudice loves delving into difficult topics. A few years ago, she found out she was donor conceived after a lifetime wondering why she was the odd-one-out in an Italian-American family, and has been creating comedy about it ever since. During the day she teaches comedy to non-comedians who are seeking to bring similar lightness to their story and in the process has discovered patterns and tools that can help you do the same.

About Lauren
Lauren LoGiudice is a comedian, actor, award-winning filmmaker, and author of Amazon Kindle Best Seller Inside Melania: What I Know About Melania Trump by Impersonating Her. Her work has been featured by The New York Times, BBC, Bust Magazine, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Hyperallergic, among others. Her writing has been called “criminal.” Her TV and film credits include Veep, Brave the Dark and Galaxy360. Moth StorySLAM Champ, as well as several national commercial campaigns. You can listen to her comedy album, Misfits: A Comedy Album, as well as select tracks from Melania Trump’s Rockin’ Right-Wing Christmas Album, on all major streaming platforms.

Currently, Lauren continues to create comedy through the lens of her unique personal experience with stand up and deeply flawed, painfully idiosyncratic character videos that have garnered over 12 million views, while producing her podcast Misfits Makin’ It on Radio Misfits Podcast Network.

Monday, October 21, 2024

7:00 PM - 8:30 PM ET

Adoption and Suicidality Panel with Beth Syverson

*Please note this event is from 7:00-8:30 PM*

Adoption and Suicidality: Adopted people are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-adopted peers. Join the contributors to a new book, Adoption and Suicidality, in a discussion about how adoption impacts adoptees' mental health, and how we can all help prevent suicide. The panel, moderated by adoptive mom Beth Syverson, will consist of adoptees who have survived suicide attempts or chronic suicidality and parents whose child struggled with suicidality.

About Beth
Beth Syverson is an adoptive mom, wife, musician, and as of 2021 a podcaster, activist, and public speaker. Since 2019, her son Joey has struggled with addiction to substances plus serious mental health issues. For the first year of that roller coaster ride, she and Joey were both derailed. Beth tried to “fix” Joey, and her Supermom cape was tied on tight. But when nothing worked to “fix” him, she sought help for herself, which improved her own life and also her relationship to her wife Jan and to Joey. She and Joey created Safe Home Podcast in August 2021, with the purpose of helping other families avoid some of the pain they've experienced.

Beth adopted Joey from Japan when he was 7-1/2 months old. She now realizes that his relinquishment trauma is one of the core issues that causes him to seek substances. Beth is a leader for other adoptive parents who are coming “out of the fog” and realizing that the adoption that created their family also created trauma for their child. In September 2022, she created a free support group for adoptive parents called APtitude, and in August 2023, she became a certified coach through the Virginia Satir Global Network so she can help more adoptive parents and others who are struggling.

Monday, November 11, 2024

8:00 PM - 9:00 PM ET

A Conversation with Canadian filmmaker Adrian Wills on his film "A Quiet Girl"

Join us for an engaging discussion with Canadian filmmaker Adrian Wills about his film, "A Quiet Girl." The film will be available for digital viewing starting August 1st. To make the most of the event, we encourage everyone to watch the film beforehand. Adrian will join us to share insights into his journey with the film and participate in a Q&A session.

In A Quiet Girl, adopted Montreal filmmaker Adrian Wills commits, on camera and in real time, to unravelling the mystery of his complex beginnings in Newfoundland. Spurred on by a meager clue in his adoption documents, Wills spends two years travelling from the wild beauty of Canada’s most eastern coastline to the red heat of Arizona in search of answers. What Wills finally uncovers pierces into the meaning of family, revealing disquieting parallels between his own life and that of the birth mother he never knew.

This moving feature documentary combines 16mm footage and contemporary images with deeply personal conversations, transforming an urgent search for identity into a quest to give a quiet girl her voice. Ultimately, Wills honours his birth mother’s resilience and, in doing so, reveals his own. Film provided courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).

About Adrian
Adrian Wills is an award-winning director, series co-creator and showrunner with a passion for character-driven storytelling across various genres. His projects range from the co-created sports drama series 21 Thunder (CBC/Netflix) to All Together Now: The Beatles Love, winner of the Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video. A Quiet Girl is Wills’ first film with the National Film Board of Canada and his most personal one yet—a POV feature documentary that begins as a mystery about his adoption in Newfoundland. In 2023, Wills will be releasing a new feature music documentary entitled Leonard Cohen: Tower of Song.

A citizen of both Canada and Australia, Wills studied Media at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia and Film Production at Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema in Montreal, Canada.

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