The Adoption Summit Experience 2015: Come Climb With Us, An On-line Summit

This post is reprinted from the blog which I wrote for the Long Island Adoption Support Group last week.

Adoption Summit

As an adoptive parent, I know what it is like to feel challenged by the unique and complicated demands of life as an adoptive family. As an adoption coach, I know how other families struggle to locate resources that understand adoption and are attuned to the needs of child and parents–both adoptive and birth parents. Living as an adoptive family has often felt like a trek up the steep slopes of Mt. Everest. I suspect other adoptive families experience similar moments of overwhelm and confusion.

Imagine finding and talking with a knowledgeable guide who’s also walked that path and survived. Imagine feeling heard, understood and supported, with empathy not judgment. Imagine being able to know what will best serve your child, yourself, your partner, and, your child’s birth parents. How might that kind of unified resource help your family? Imagine no more.

On Nov. 10-12, 2015 and Nov. 17, 2015 a collaboration of adult adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents and adoption professional join together to present “The Adoption Summit Experience.” This free, on-line summit is unique as the three individual perspectives join forces to become one voice—a voice that speaks with respect and compassion for all individuals involved in an option.


Our goal is to create an opportunity for anyone, anywhere who is interested in adoption to lean in and listen to conversations from different perspectives,” says Parsons, creator of the event. “Every presenter volunteers their time and energy to make adoption better in some way. These are people who have transformed their relinquishment and adoption challenges into action for positive change. This event is a first of its kind.”

—LeAnne Parsons

adoption both and.6 Summit presenters will address adoption from all “sides” and will share the insights and learnings that we have acquired along the way.  We want to take our hard-won wisdom and infuse it with purpose to create a more collaborative and mutually supportive understanding of adoption. All presenters are directly living adoption either as first parents, adoptees or adoptive parents.

As listeners hear the “other” viewpoints, we hope to awaken empathy and understanding of how we are inextricably and permanently interconnected. Instead of compartmentalizing adoption into adoptee issues, birth parent issues and adoptive parent issues, we accept this interconnectivity as the reality of adoption. By understanding the needs of each part of the adoption triad, we can work together to make adoption better for all involved.

Are you in an open adoption, trying to determine how to make it work? Do you wish you knew how to enjoy and balance your happiness against a backdrop of the grief and loss of your child’s birth parents? Do you wonder how to handle your own triggers? Do you ever wish you could chat with several birth mothers to ask them questions to help you relate better with “your” birth mother/s? Then this summit is for you!

Are you struggling to handle the challenges of adoption and yearn to speak with parents who have “survived” similar events and whose family remained firmly attached and thrived? Do you wish you knew alternative parenting strategies—ones tested by other adoptive families? Then this summit is for you!

L is for LoveAre you looking for guidance on good resources? How do you evaluate which therapists, coaches, social workers, etc. understand adoption and are properly prepared to guide you? Do you know which books truly serve your family and which perpetuate outdated social myths? Then this summit is for you!

Imagine learning from adult adoptees what worked, didn’t work or what they wished their parents had done for them. How might that knowledge help you be a better parent to your child?

Have you ever wished you could talk honestly about your family struggles with no fear of judgment? Imagine confiding in peers who understand the joy, frustration, fear and commitment that adoptees face? Then this summit is for you

Watch this welcome video from Adoption Summit sponsor and adult adoptee, LeAnne Parsons as she invites you to “Come Climb with Us” at the free, on-line adoption summit. All who are interested in adoption are welcome and urged to participate. Register today:


Your Family’s Adoption Library.v8.10.07.2015Gayle’s presentation at the summit will focus on books as an ideal resource for introducing and sustaining healthy adoption conversations both within and beyond the family. It will include three bibliographies: one for children, one for parents and one of books written by adult adoptees.

Gayle is a co-founder of GIFT Family Services which provides adoption support before, during and after adoption, an adoption coach, adoptive parent, former foster parent and co-author of the multi-award-winning, “ABC, Adoption & Me: A Multicultural Picture Book.” She blogs regularly at “Growing Intentional Families together” She also writes an Adoption-attuned blog titled, “Writing to Connect” which reviews books through a High AQ lens. While some are specifically about adoption, most are not. She strives to help parents notice teachable moments in whatever books they share with their children.

Watch this welcome video from Adoption Summit sponsor and adult adoptee, LeAnne Parsons as she invites you to “Come Climb with Us” at the free, on-line adoption summit. All who are interested in adoption are welcome and urged to participate.

Making Dreams Come True

ballerina dreamsDreaming comes easily to most people but manifesting dreams requires more than wishing. As adoptive parents we are familiar with the power of a dream to motivate a relentless dedication of time, energy, resources and money. In Ballerina Dreams by Michaela and Elaine DePrince, readers meet two inspirational dreamers: the mother daughter authors who collaborated on this book. It follows Michaela’s dream to become a ballerina–something few black girls accomplish.

When Michaela began imagining this goal she was an orphan in Sierra Leone; it seemed improbable, a far-fetched possibility.  Most people would believe it an unachievable goal. But not Michaela. She believed in herself. She believed in her dream. And she knew how to work.

Challenges filled her life. In addition to losing her parents to war, Michaela suffered from a visible skin disease that destroyed some of the pigment in her skin. This left her looking “spotty” and vulnerable to teasing by the other children in the orphanage. Still, Michaela remained undeterred and held onto her dream to become a dancer.

Meanwhile far across the world in the United States, Elaine DePrince, an equally determined woman, dedicated herself to fulfilling  her own dream: to adopt a child war-torn from Sierra Leone. Ballerina Dreams shares their amazing story.

Michaela’s persistence and discipline matched the immensity of her dream. She moved far beyond wishful thinking and invested herself completely as she pursued he goal. Eventually, she became a featured performer in the documentary film, First Position, then a principal ballerina with the Dance Theatre of Harlem–the youngest ever. She built on this success and eventually joined the  Dutch National Ballet, a prestigious ballet company


magnifying lens AQ.2

AQ Lens:   Michaela’s story is one of resilience in the face of adversity and dogged persistence of an important goal. Inspired by her dream, she allowed nothing to prevent her from realizing her heart’s desire. This book clearly shows that her success did not come easily. It resulted from her hard work augmented by collaborative resources and a team of people who supported Michaela.

Her story exemplifies another important adoptee lesson in trust: to rely on others, to depend on their support and to believe that they will be there when needed. Many adoptees have an abiding fear of rejection. This can tempt them into hiding their true wishes and/or replacing their own dreams with the wishes of others. Michaela’s story provides an inspiring model for following one’s own path. It also shows that success is usually a team effort. Many people supported Michaela along the way. She had to agree to let them in, to expose her innermost dream and be vulnerable to their response.   starstarstarstarstar



Firebird: Misty Copeland written by ballerina Misty Copeland has won numerous awards:  

2015 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award
Ezra Jack Keats Book Award New Writer Honor
An NPR Best Book of 2014
An Amazon Best Book of 2014 – Ages 6-8
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2014
Essence Magazine Best Children’s Book of 2014

Glorious illustrations bring this poetic story to life. Evocative metaphors capture a dazzling mood. Watching Misty dance, a young child is overwhelmed by her performance and thinks “the space between you and me/ is longer than forever.” She fears that such accomplishments lie beyond her reach. But Misty counters: “I was a dancer just like you/a dreaming shooting star of a girl/with work and worlds ahead.” As with Michaela’s story, readers will feel both inspired and awed by the fruits of determination and hard work.

magnifying lens AQ.2AQ Lens: This book repeats the message of diligence, persistence and teamwork. It also offers another wonderful example of an African-American child succeeding in arenas previously unavailable to girls like Misty. Firebird: Misty Copeland indulges the eye and the ear and is a great book to add to the collection of any family interested in an expanded multicultural perspective.     starstarstarstarstar