4614 Prospect Avenue, Ste. 550
Cleveland, OH 44103

Monday Evening Speaker Series

Adoption Network Cleveland is a leader in bringing the adoption community together to create a network of support and advocacy. In this critical and uncertain time for all of us, we are pleased to offer a Monday Evening Speaker Series full of topics that are of interest to a broad audience impacted by adoption, kinship, and foster care. The series will be on hiatus during the summer. Please enjoy recordings of past presentations and stay tuned for our fall offerings.


Completed Presentations

Recordings of previous speakers can be found below for your enjoyment. Thank you to our speakers for their generosity in sharing their time and expertise with Adoption Network and our community.

  • We’ve Been Robbed! How Does Loss, Grief, and Instability Impact the Adoption Constellation?
    Life postponed and life events that never will occur: Conferences, Easter, Passover, High School senior years, weddings and attending funerals of loved ones. For those of us with losses, how does the virus further impact our mental health and how can we respond?

    Sharon Kaplan Roszia, M.S., is an internationally known trainer and author who helped pave the way for open adoption practice believing in keeping connections over time. She has been devoted to her work in adoption and foster care since 1963 and is also a parent by birth, adoption, and foster care. She has co-authored two books on open adoption, The Open Adoption Experience, and Cooperative Adoption. She is the recipient of an ‘Angel in Adoption’ award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute; ‘Humanitarian Award’ from the American Adoption Congress and awards from The North American Council on Adoptable Children, ATTACh, and the Annette Baran and Rubin Pannor Award for Outstanding Work in Adoption. Sharon’s most recent book is The Seven Core Issues in Adoption and Permanency, co-authored with Allison Maxon and released in 2019.

  • Exploring Family Culture
    The ability to consider family culture as a dynamic construct is important for all families and especially for adoptive families. Spending more time than usual with family presents a unique opportunity to explore the elements (big and small) that contribute to family culture and can lead to a much richer life experience in many regards. This session will offer a discussion about what family culture is and invite participants to reflect on family culture past, present, and future and the role adoption can play in shifting the culture and dynamic.

    As a transracially adopted person, April Dinwoodie was raised in a predominately white environment and lives a life where it is imperative that she gracefully and safely move through circumstances and situations related to differences of race, class, and culture. While her New England upbringing taught her about labor, and her white family taught her about love, she had to teach herself about life as a woman of color. Through the very poignant and often misunderstood experiences of adoption, she has woven elements of the journey thus far into her work as a writer, podcaster, speaker/trainer, coach, and consultant. April is fiercely dedicated to developing a healthy identity, building stronger relationships, and elevating our collective ability to navigate differences of race, class, and culture. Please see the bottom of the page for resources from April.

  • Dealing with Stress and Anxiety
    Stress, anxiety, grief, and feelings of disconnection and isolation are high right now as we deal with circumstances that seem quite out of our control. For those who have experienced trauma, stressful times can make it more difficult to self-regulate and cope with uncertainty.  Let’s come together to talk about the importance of self-care and how we can support our loved ones and heal as a community now and moving forward.  This session will offer practical ways to work with the nervous system, calm anxiety and build resilience. There will be an optional guided resourcing exercise as well as plenty of time for Q&A. Please see the bottom of the page for resources from Lesli.

    Lesli Johnson is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Los Angeles, specializing in adoption and related issues. Her clients include all members of the adoption and foster care community: adoptees, adoptive parents, waiting parents, birth/first parents, foster parents and families. An adoptee herself, Lesli’s personal experience allows her to connect with this community in a unique way. Lesli is a certified EMDR therapist and trained in Brainspotting and the Trauma Resiliency Model. In addition to her work in private practice, Lesli provides coaching services both in-office and virtually to adoptees, adoptive parents and birthparents worldwide. She facilitates on-going adoption support groups and conducts adoption awareness and educational workshops in schools, universities and mental health settings to help professionals better understand issues related to adoption. Lesli also consults on film, television and creative projects that have adoption-related themes.  Learn more or connect with Lesli at www.askadoption.com .

  • The Ups and Downs of Your Adoption Story: You Should Write A Book 
    Loss and frustration, joy and wonder––your story of surrender, adoption, and reunion (or any one of these three) includes all the elements of great storytelling. No wonder that when you’ve shared a sliver of your story, people say you should write a book. Whether you’re just thinking about starting or deep into a manuscript, find out what you need to know about getting what happened down on the page and into the world. What, exactly, do you need to consider when sharing these family secrets? Get real-life examples and strategies to address problems specific to writing about adoption. Led by an award-winning memoirist and writing instructor. Please find the resources from Kate's presentation below.

    Kate St. Vincent Vogl is the author of "Lost & Found: A Memoir of Mothers." National ABC news has featured her story, and The Akron Beacon Journal named it among the best of the year. Her essays appear in Bellingham Review and best-selling anthologies such as "Listen to Your Mother" and "Why We Ride." Vogl has received a Minnesota State Arts Board grant and a residency at the Anderson Center, and her latest work is forthcoming in "Prairie Schooner." Vogl graduated from Cornell University cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, and from the Creative Writing Program at Hamline. An adoptee twenty-five years in reunion, she has presented at national writing conferences and international adoption forums. She teaches fiction and memoir writing at The Loft, the country’s largest creative writing center.

  • Beyond ACEs: Understanding Trauma, the Brain, and Building Resilience

    Decades of research have established that traumatic experiences have the potential to impact our physical and mental well-being in incredibly detrimental ways. However, with an understanding of some basic principles of neurobiology and development, we can see how relationally healthy experiences have the potential to buffer us against these negative impacts. In this session, we will explore the connection between trauma, the brain, and relationships, and consider the 'why' behind commonly recommended strategies for regulation and self-soothing.

    Dr. Jennifer King is an Assistant Professor at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University and the Assistant Director of the Center on Trauma and Adversity at CWRU. A clinical social worker, she has a multitude of clinical practice experience working directly with traumatized individuals, families, and communities with the goal of addressing the impact of trauma across systems in order to help the traumatized move from surviving to thriving. A highly sought after speaker and trainer, Dr. King provides leadership over the trauma-informed curriculum at the Mandel School—developing training opportunities and advanced curriculum in the area of trauma-informed practice for Master’s level social work students as well as community practitioners to become better equipped to promote healing and resilience in individuals and communities.

  • Exploring Racism and How to Prevent It

    Racism is not new to those of us who have been transracially adopted. And it didn’t just start with the outbreak of COVID-19. It’s never an easy topic to discuss, but a necessary one to address at any time. With the outpouring of headlines of attacks against Asian Americans, Moses Farrow welcomes this opportunity to add the adoption perspective to this issue and offer his views on mental health, resilience, and empowerment for both victims and bystanders. Participants are invited to this discussion to explore the surge in racism and what we can do together to prevent it from reoccurring in future generations.

    Moses Farrow has led a private life as a Marriage and Family Therapist. However, in recent years, he has become more outspoken about his childhood and advocating for mental health, child abuse prevention, and adoption reform. As a transracial adoptee from Korea, being raised in a family of 14, ten of whom were adopted from countries across the world, Moses draws from his unique perspective to empower adoptees to speak their truth. He believes that we won’t fully understand the impacts of adoption unless we all raise our voices. Along his journey, he has contributed in numerous ways to the mental health field and the field of adoption and had written a personal blog in 2018 that has garnered global attention. Most recently, he co-founded a national movement, IAMNOTAVIRUS.INFO, to elevate the visibility of the Asian American community and inspire kindness and compassion and is now advocating for the prevention of anti-Asian violence and solidarity among all Americans.

  • Welcome to the House of Mirrors: The Importance of Preparing for Reunion

    One aspect of reunion that “almost” everyone shares, is the ability to see oneself, in the other. Adoptees have often felt something was missing, but meeting birthparents for the first time, frequently changes that perception. Today, with DNA and access to records, we locate kin in a few hours instead of a few years. Because folks are connecting more quickly, it is even more important to prepare for a variety of feelings, which you likely have never even considered as part of reunion. As novices, we think that reunion will fix what has been ailing us. And while that is somewhat true, it's the unexpected and intense feelings that can cause a reunion to crash & burn. While reunion is not for the faint of heart, it always preferable than not knowing.

    Leslie Pate Mackinnon is a therapist who presents nationally and internationally on issues that impact families conceived through adoption and third-party reproduction. She was led to the field after placing her two firstborn sons for adoption and led to specialty following reunion. Today her passion is educating therapists to this verifiably complex field. She’s served on the board of Catholic Social Services, CUB & Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. She’s been on GOOD MORNING AMERICA w/ Robin Roberts, and on CNN discussing the impact of the internet on adoption. She was featured in DAN RATHER’s investigative report; ADOPTION OR ABDUCTION and was on the Katie Couric show along with her oldest son Pete. Leslie’s story is included in the book; The Girls Who Went Away, and the documentary A GIRL LIKE HER For more information please visit www.lesliepatemackinnon.com.

  • NOT Recorded: May 25, 2020

    Screening of "From a Place of Love" and Q&A with David Bynum

    Participants of this Monday Evening Speaker Series are invited to a special screening of the documentary, "From A Place Of Love,", followed by a question and answer session with the film's director David Bynum. With the age of 60 on the horizon filmmaker David Bynum set out on a journey of discovery to find his biological family. After 58 years of not knowing where his true roots were or any family history, the need to search became overpowering and prompted him to begin his journey. In “From A Place Of Love” you will accompany David on his quest to find the answers to the questions he had been carrying with him his whole life. The Film is told by the people who assisted him along the way. To watch the film's trailer, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ew-ZqVm0ovY

    David Bynum was born and adopted at birth in Columbus, Oh. He began his search two years ago and is currently in reunion with both sides of his biological family. He is a married father of three and grandfather of six. He is a U.S. Army Veteran and Retired Correctional Officer and a High School Football Coach at Reynoldsburg High School. David and his wife Marie own ByDam Multimedia, which is the parent company to Star107fm.com an online radio station that has a global presence. His company recently produced his latest release, “From A Place Of Love” – My Adoption Journey. David enjoys traveling, boating, fishing, and spending time with family.

  • Practical Techniques for Self-Care

    We are frequently told that it is important to do self-care. But when we try to start a practice, we can feel added pressure when trying to figure out what self-care looks like and often put it to the side in frustration. This interactive and informative self-care discussion will guide you through a mindfulness meditation on self-love. You will leave the evening with real-life examples of feasible self-care techniques for busy individuals and simple tools to ease any discomfort during a stressful time.

    Jessica Fisher, LSW, CDCA, is a Treatment Coordinator with the National Youth Advocacy Program. She coordinates treatment and provides therapeutic behavior services for foster care youth. Jessica specializes in mental health and trauma. She graduated from Cleveland State University with a B.A. in social work, and is working towards her Masters of Social Work at the University of Denver Advanced Standing Social Work Program. Jessica is an adoptee, and as part of her graduate studies, she is an intern with the Adoption Network, assisting with child care, youth, and adult programming. Jessica has obtained her Social Work License and Chemical Dependency Counselors Assistant License and is currently working on her Certified Clinical Trauma Professional License. Jessica served as a Chemical Dependency Counselor at the Centers for Families and Children, facilitating intensive outpatient and non-intensive outpatient group therapy, providing individual counseling, and helping train staff on treatment curriculum. She has volunteered at the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, Jewish Family Services Association, and as a dialectical behavioral therapy assistant in private practice, working with adolescents. When Jessica was a student at Cleveland State University, she was a peer educator with H.Y.P.E (Helping You Through Peer Education), an on-campus certified peer education group that helps develop leadership, communication, intervention, and referral skills to facilitate healthy decision- making and role-modeling. She was involved in programs that include alcohol, tobacco and drug education, general wellness, sexual violence prevention, sexual health, and suicide prevention education. Jessica is a Certified Reiki Two Practitioner. Jessica enjoys educating individuals on mindfulness techniques to help alleviate stress and anxiety.

Resources from Our Speakers

Sharon Kaplan Roszia

  • Seven Core Issues in Adoption and Permanency (book): Find out more

April Dinwoodie

Lesli Johnson

Kate Vogl

Dr. Jennifer King

Moses Farrow

Leslie Pate Mackinnon

For more information, contact:

Betsie Norris, Executive Director

(216) 482-2314