The Ties That Bind Seminar Is Sponsored By The Following Organizations:







Workshop Schedule


Session 1 - Saturday, May 19th - 10:30 am - 12:00 am

1A Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love

Presented by: Craig Peterson and Sons, Michael and Andrew

Biological brothers, Michael and Andrew Peterson have proven the skeptics wrong time and time again. Born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, they experienced early trauma and lived in foster care for four long years before being adopted by their dad, Craig. Although learning was never easy, they did their best. Upon joining Special Olympics, they found a niche. Between them, they’ve won more than 50 gold medals. The Peterson men will be sharing some of their challenges and accomplishments in this workshop that will inspire parents to Adopt and Keep the Faith.

1B Supporting vs. Enabling: How to Foster Independence in Kids with ADHD & Related Issues

Presented by: Elaine Taylor-Klaus

How do you teach complex kids to become more independent? Are you enabling them or setting them up for success? Do you let them risk failure, or give them a helping hand? This interactive workshop will identify what are reasonable and realistic expectations, and provide a framework to decide when and how much to help. We'll cover 5 key motivators, and the 4 phases of effective parenting to transfer ownership and foster independence.

1C Georgia Gateway Program

Presented by: JoAnn Wheeler

Georgia Gateway is the largest information technology project in state history designed to assist Georgians in managing their benefits for a number of eligibility programs including Medicaid. This system will reduce the amount of paperwork for state office staff, streamline benefits management for customers into one place, and allows for quicker service. Workshop attendees will learn how to navigate Georgia Gateway and receive tips on applying for and renewing benefits. In addition, they will receive more information about its programs, links to agencies, and benefit descriptions.

1D Whole-Hearted, Whole-Brained Parenting: A Must for Adoptive Families

Presented by: Julie Beem, MBA

Children coming to our families through adoption bring their grief, loss and early childhood trauma along too. Parents must be taught and empowered to use strategies that are Whole-Hearted and Whole-Brained to create a safe place to build relationships and teach self-regulation. In this workshop, caregivers and professionals who support parents will explore the importance of modeling vulnerability and empathy, and strategies that nurture healthy brain development to build resiliency and promote healing in attachment-impaired, traumatized children.

1E Relationship-Building Boundaries in Search & Reunion

Presented by: Brooke Randolph, LMHC, Featured Speaker from Indiana

As the organizing editor of the upcoming book It's Not About You: Understanding Adoptee Search, Reunion, & Open Adoption, Brooke believes in the transformative power open adoption and reunion can have for adoptees. Even when the process is wonderful, it is never simple. Boundaries can help all members of the triad understand what to expect, what to share (and not share), and how to support each other. This workshop will define and re-view boundaries, and discuss when boundaries need to be enforced in a way that promotes positive relationships rather than damaging relationships.


Session 2 - Saturday, May 19th - 1:15 pm - 2:45 pm

2A PTSD due to Sexual Abuse

Presented by: Ashley Peterson & Craig Peterson

Ashley Peterson will share her story of sexual abuse with the assistance of her dad, Craig Peterson in a conversational and interviewing style. Ashley will address how she is coping and living with complex PTSD from very early sexual abuse. In this workshop relationships, attachment, detachment, triggers for PTSD, challenges, successes, trust, therapy selection, and more will be discussed. Ashley will inform the audience about what worked and did not work for her. Parents will learn and relearn a great deal from this impactful presentation.

2B Connecting the Dots: Adoption Issues and Birth Family Connections

Presented by: Chena Blanchard, LPC

The purpose of this workshop is to help adoptive families recognize the importance of maintaining birth family connections. Common myths and fears associated with maintaining birth family contact will be addressed along with understanding the impact of missing connections on identity formation. Adoptive parents will be provided with suggestions and resources for assisting their family and adoptive child(ren) in staying connected.

2C The Dangers of Toxic Grief

Presented by: Laklieshia Izzard, Ph.D., LPC

As Adoptive or Foster to Adopt parents, you have opened your hearts to children in need. Your child is likely dealing with grief and loss issues related to their birth family and you’ve taken on the task of trying to earn their trust. However, that is not always easy, and it leaves you wondering why? Toxic Grief can be heart wrenching and exhausting. Separation from birth parents can be difficult and painful despite positive efforts. This presentation will offer a deeper understanding of Grief and strategies for Healing Toxic Grief to develop more positive experiences for everyone in the family.

2D Imagine Your Life: A Vision Board—Part One

Presented by: Lissa Bowen and Judy Skaer

Presented by two adoptive moms, it’s not just any vision’s one just for us! You’ll learn self-care strategies and how to replace disempower-ing beliefs with empowering ones to create a vision for your family that can be life changing. A vision board is used to help you clarify and focus on specific life goals and will serve as a visual reminder that your future is in your hands! Not only will you leave with your own vision board, you’ll learn how to help your kids create their own vision boards that encourage them to dream big! *Attendees will be automatically registered for Part 2 next session.

2E The Problem with RAD as a Diagnosis & Why Attachment Strategies Fail

Presented by: Brooke Randolph, LMHC, Featured Speaker

Attachment difficulty should be expected and unsurprising to adoptive parents. Rather than a single diagnosis, attachment is a spectrum disorder with only the most severe cases qualifying for Reactive Attachment Disorder. Trust has to come before attachment and many "attachment strategies" fail because they are about power rather than trust. Participants will learn more about the attachment process as it relates to adoption, understand the attachment spectrum, analyze effective attachment strategies, and evaluate other obstacles that may be contributing to family struggles


Session 3 - Saturday, May 19h - 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

3A Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and 504 Plans: Know Your Rights

Presented by: Kirk Lunde

Knowledge is Power! For the last six years, this adoptive father of two complex boys has tutored, and advocated for all students with disabilities. The more you know about IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), the better advocate you can be for your child. Parents will learn about 504 and IEP Plans, the differences between them, the rights each provides students and families, and the obligations of school districts to follow them. You will leave this workshop knowledgeable & feeling empowered!

3B Seeking Rest and Respite: How to Get Help

Presented by: Fanike-Kiara Olugbala, LCSW & Dale Roberts

Foster and Adoptive parents of children with special needs are often left feeling overwhelmed. 24 hours in a day can easily feel like 36 after encoun-tering multiple mishaps, emotional tantrums, behavioral issues and common symptoms associated with special needs. Often times, respite is recom-mended however actually obtaining respite services can be difficult. This workshop will walk parents through the value of “taking a break” and the steps for obtaining some REST through respite services.

3C You Don’t Have to Be A Perfect Parent to Parent Perfectly

Presented by: Suzette Brown

Are you striving to be the perfect parent, but do you parent perfectly, really? As a parent, you need to recognize that it is normal to feel worried, con-fused, angry, guilty, overwhelmed and inadequate at times. That is part of being a parent. It is self-defeating to try to be perfect. Sometimes together “imperfect families” can learn... that they are not fragile, to overcome obstacles, from their mistakes, to solve problems and bounce back from adver-sity. This workshop will help parents understand that sometimes perfection is over rated and good communication is the key.

3D Imagine Your Life: A Vision Board—Part One

Presented by: Lissa Bowen and Judy Skaer

Presented by two adoptive moms, it’s not just any vision’s one just for us! You’ll learn self-care strategies and how to replace disempowering beliefs with empowering ones to create a vision for your family that can be life changing. A vision board is used to help you clarify and focus on specif-ic life goals and will serve as a visual reminder that your future is in your hands! Not only will you leave with your own vision board, you’ll learn how to help your kids create their own vision boards that encourage them to dream big! *If you attended 2A you will be automatically be registered for Part 2

3E Advocating For Your Adopted Child at School—Trauma Informed Strategies That Work

Presented by: Julie Beem, MBA

Adoptive parents are often at a loss for how to help their children at school. Trauma is widely not considered when trying to understand a child’s unique behaviors or learning struggles. Yet a significant number of adopted children have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that hamper their school success. This workshop will focus on trauma-informed strategies that can be implemented with or without an IEP and will help the child feel safe and connected, get regulated and learn.


Session 4 - Sunday, May 20th - 9:00 am - 11:00 am

4A Identity and Self-Image in Multiracial Foster & Adoptive Families

Presented by: Kim Stevens, NACAC Program Manager

In her 26 years of child welfare work, Kim has provided training and consultation on foster care, adoption, and transracial adoption, both nationally and internationally. With so many children being raised in families outside of their ethnic and cultural backgrounds, it is critical to address their needs for positive self-image and connectedness. This workshop offers insights on white privilege and racism, strategies for supporting strong and positive identity in your children, and an opportunity for courageous conversations.

4B Understanding Teen Anger

Presented by: Gary Byrd

Tired of power struggles and yelling between you and your teenager? It doesn’t have to be that way. You can change the patterns of dealing with mis-behavior and teach your teen a better way to manage anger. One of the greatest gifts a parent can give to their teen is a set of attitudes and skills that will enable them to manage their anger and find solutions to conflict. This workshop will help you assist your teen in developing a mindset that favors peace, not by avoiding anger and conflict nor by winning through intimidation, but by resolving anger and conflict with emotional intelligence.

4C Connections—Understanding Yourself & Others to Reduce Problem Behaviors

Presented by: Michael Carpenter, Ph.D.

This interactive workshop will address how child-management strategies can reduce behavior problems. Parents will be provided with a framework for appreciating and supporting the individual differences of children with an overview of social emotional learning. The goal of the workshop is to enhance empathy skills; share Emotional Intelligence strategies that employ problem-solving techniques; and teach parents how to reframe the per-ceptions of a child. Participants will focus on temperament-based management strategies to improve a child’s behavior.

4D Mom’s Methods for Managing Madness

Presented by: Rose Stagemeyer, Rachel DeBruce, Pamela Jones, and Heather Colvin

Four moms will share their experiences as adoptive moms who have adopted complex children. They will share how they found success with their children who had sometimes been “doomed” to fail. These Moms have important things to share that will benefit all parents. These resourceful mothers could be what you've been looking for to obtain direction, support, knowledge, and resources to be your BEST self for your family.

4E Men Behaving “Dadly”: A Dad’s Panel

Presented by: Kirk Lunde, Brian Stagemeyer, and Christopher Matos-Rogers

Dads impact a child's life as much as moms. This panel of adoptive dads will share their wealth of experiences and knowledge including open adoption, foster care, adopting teens, working with school systems, and being involved in your child’s life every day. They will share the joys and chal-lenges of parenting by adoption from a dad's perspective. They are witty, funny, and oh, so serious about being dads. You will leave feeling empow-ered, inspired, invigorated, and with strategies/tools for being the best dad/parent you can be.