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Learning Together So We Can Do Better Together

Education and training is central to the mission of National Council For Adoption. How fitting that on the day of our 40th Anniversary, we would welcome a record 475 registrants to our annual National Adoption Conference! From across the United States, and four other countries, adoption professionals, adoptive parents, adoptees, advocates and those interested in learning more about adoption have gathered online to hear from experts in the field on a number of common and important topics in adoption.

We kicked off Day One with an excellent session by Jana Hunsley, Ph.D. candidate from the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at TCU. Her ongoing research and work in the area of TBRI-based therapies for the entire family, particularly adoptive siblings, was insightful and immediately applicable for conference attendees. As an adoptive sibling herself, Jana's personal stories were engaging and helpful in establishing the need for further research and resources for how best to support adoptive siblings post adoption.

Post adoption support is an area of critical concern, so we were very pleased to bring in a three person panel to speak about an important project happening across the state of Virginia designed to help adoptive families regardless of whether they opted out of the child welfare system, privately or interntionally. Traci Brickhouse Jones from VA DSS, Berenice Rushovich and Alison Hebert from Child Trends, walked us through their work from the needs assessment research phase to program and strategy development, funding, and expected implementation. This project has the potential to provide a national model for streamlining, standardizing, and strengthening state-funded post adoption services for all types of adoption. Attendees were excited about a model that is so comprehensive in its service array and accessibility, and expressed a desire to see a similar model implemented in their states. This is a project that NCFA will be following closely as its implemented and outcomes are assessed. Kudos to Traci and the VA Department of Social Services for pursuing a comprehensive model of services to adoptive families!

A foremost expert in the field with over 30 years of experience, Dr. Dana Johnson is co-founder of the Adoption Medicine Clinic and is uniquely positioned to provide a historical overview of the changes in adoption medicine, and teach both professionals and parents alike about the role and importance of pre-placement medical reviews. Dr. Johnson shared research, trends, and best practices and fielded a number of questions from attendees. Dr. Johnson clarified that the Clinic is able to work with families in process for both domestic and international adoption, that they can provide brief phone consultations when the lengthier file review process is not feasible, and that post-placement file reviews and case assessments are also available. One question that NCFA noted was a request for a list of adoption medicine clinics - this is something we will work to compile and share as a resource.

We wrapped up Day One with a session that we knew would be very popular and was incredibly timely. Talking with children about race, particularly in the adoption context, is one of the most salient issues of our day in the adoption community. Against the backdrop of current events in the U.S. adoptive parents and professionals alike are seeking quality resources to train, equip and support transracial adoptive families. Ebony Mack was exactly the right person to lead this session and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Ebony provided a brief history and definition of "Race" itself, helped us understand the importance of distinguishing between Intent and Impact, offered recommended resources, provided frameworks for hard conversations, and fielded a number of questions with thoughtful insights and actionable answers. We look forward to continuing to partner with Ebony in future educational work on transracial adoption.

We look forward to gathering together for this important conference every year, and while we were disappointed not to do it in person this year, we are so grateful for this community that has been flexible, supportive, and dedicated to learning together so we can do better together. Day One was truly a success and we can't wait to get started on Day Two!