Featured Keynote Speakers

The Coalition’s 29th Annual New York State Foster Care and Adoption Conference will be held on Thursday, May 10 – Saturday, May 12, 2018  at the Hilton Albany in Albany, New York


Breakfast and Keynote Address with Mike and Kristin Berry

Saturday, May 13th, 2018  7:45 am

Why Traditional Parenting Does Not Work with Children from Trauma; Understanding Trauma and How to Parent Differently         

Why don’t traditional parenting methods work with children who have experienced trauma?  Many of us grew up with these “traditional” methods and it can be a struggle to adjust the deeply ingrained patterns of thinking and give up this type of parenting.             

As parents, we know that we are responsible for our families, but that responsibility extends way beyond food, shelter, and clothing. We are responsible for their emotional development and relational healing. Adoptive and foster parents have to heal wounds we didn’t inflict and redeem ground we didn’t lose. This is a foundational reality that we have to embrace about parenting kids with trauma histories.  We all accept that athletes need a coach and they need to practice so that they can be at their best. Yet, many parents are reluctant to accept that they need a coach or need to practice to be at their best.  Let practice begin!

Mike and Kristin Berry get honest as they discuss parenting methods better suited for children from trauma sharing their own thought process form when they have been in the muck and mire of the trench hoping and praying for a shred of hope to shine forth.

 “Authors of the books: The Adoptive Parent Toolbox, Born Broken: An Adoptive Journey, and Confessions Of An Adoptive Parent: Hope and Help From The Trenches Of Foster Care And Adoption.        

mike and kristin berryMike and Kristin Berry are authors, bloggers, speakers, adoptive parents, and former foster parents. They are passionate about reaching adoptive, foster, and special needs parents around the globe with a message of hope and transformation. They are the creators of the award-winning blog, Confessions of an Adoptive Parent (www.confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com) which has a global audience of more than 100,000 people every month. The site also hosts The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

In 2015, together Mike and Kristin co-authored the books The Adoptive Parent Toolbox and The Weary Parent’s Guide To Escaping Exhaustion.  Kristin also authored the best-selling book, Born Broken: An Adoptive Journey which chronicles her and Mike’s journey in raising children from extreme trauma. Their newest book, Confessions Of An Adoptive Parent: Hope And Help From The Trenches Of Foster Care And Adoption, was released on February 6th, 2018.

Mike travels extensively throughout the U.S. every year, with a passion to reach hurting and overwhelmed foster and adoptive parents with a message of hope. Along with blogging and books, he is also a featured writer on Disney’s babble.com.

They have been married for 18 years and have 8 children, all of whom are adopted. They reside in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Lunch and Keynote Address with Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao

Friday,  May 11th, 2018  at 12:15 pm 

Finding Competent Therapeutic Assistance for the Journey from Trauma to Transformation

One of the most important jobs of a parent is to prepare the child to be a kind, productive, and healthy adult. We know that we must provide to the children in our care a sense of trust, needed security, a feeling of belonging, a sense of being “seen” and acceptance for all that they are. Yet, there is the history of trauma for a child who has suffered losses in their young lives and the cumulative trauma makes it more of a complex issue. 

We must walk through the inner life of the child, who is experiencing the trauma—both simple and complex– that is a part of the passage for all the children in adoption, foster or kinship care.  We must expand our look at the extended family of adoption and how we can honor it, and in doing so, honor the child while building self-esteem and connectedness.  We must give them the tools they need to be able to understand and own their journey even when as their troubled past can continue to affect all well into the future.

To be sure that the child/adolescent/young adult adopted person is able to organically integrate the often difficult past with a hopeful future, we need to identify and find HELP that is non pathologizing and that is competent in the work of post adoption and trauma. How does a parent of caregiver find the right professional to help their child be guided to their true sense of self and to a place where their trauma is transformed?

Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao, Ed.D., LCSW, LMFT was the Founder and CEO of Center for Family Connections, Inc. (CFFC, 1995-2012) in Cambridge and New York, Founder and Director of Riverside After Adoption Consulting and Training (AACT, 2012 to present), PACT (Pre/Post Adoption Consulting and Training, 1982-2015), and AACT (All Adoption Consulting and Training).

Dr. Pavao has done extensive training, both nationally and internationally.  She is a lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and she has consulted to various public and private child welfare agencies, adoption agencies, schools, and community groups, as well as probate and family court judges, lawyers, and clergy.  Additionally, she has worked closely with individuals and families touched by adoption, foster care, and other complex blended family constructions.

She has developed models for treatment and for training using her systemic, intergenerational, and developmental framework, The Normative Crises in the Development of the Adoptive Family, and her book, The Family of Adoption (Beacon Press), has received high acclaim.

Dr. Pavao has received many awards and honors, including the Children’s Bureau/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Adoption Excellence Award for Family Contribution (2003) and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption award for Angels in Adoption (2000).

Friday Evening Live Performance

“Spitting In The Face Of The Devil”

Friday, May 11th, 2018 at 8:00 pm 


Written and performed by Bob Brader    Directed and developed by Suzanne Bachner

Hailed by critics as “brilliant”, “masterful” and “unforgettable”, Spitting In The Face Of The Devil is award-winning New York monologist Bob Brader’s gripping true story of discovering that his abusive and charismatic ex-Marine father is a pedophile.  

A powerful tale of personal survival and triumph that pertains to healing from trauma and overcoming adversity, Spitting In The Face Of The Devil’s a 7-Time Best of Fest Award-Winner, including “Best Show” of the London Fringe and “Best Script” and “Best Encore” at NYC’s United Solo Theatre Festival. Brader’s daring, uplifting, often comedic play has garnered acclaim at the New York International, San Francisco, Orlando International, Victoria and Montreal Fringe Festivals, among many others. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to bring this to our Conference!

Stay after the performance for a Talk Back session with Bob and Suzanne!

Bob Brader is an award-winning actor, writer, storyteller and monologist. “Spitting In The Face Of The Devil”, Bob’s acclaimed solo show, toured all over the US and Canada and won 7 Best of Awards: including “Best Show of the London Fringe” and “Best Script” and “Best Encore” in the United Solo Theatre Festival, NYC. “Spitting In The Face Of The Devil” was the featured theatrical event and a crowd favorite, sold-out show in the Inaugural Woodstock Memoir Festival. Bob is the Executive Director of JMTC Theatre.  Bob trained with the Stella Adler Conservatory at the Tisch School of the Arts and is a member of SAG-AFTRA, the Dramatists Guild and the United Solo Academy.

Suzanne Bachner is an award-winning playwright, director and adoptee. “The Good Adoptee”, Suzanne’s  play starring Anna Bridgforth, is the totally true story of Suzanne’s riveting and outrageous search for her birth parents in the face of New York State’s sealed records. The show has won awards for Best Autobiographical Script and Best Actress at NYC’s United Solo Theatre Festival. It was named a Best Play by Indie Theater Now and is included in ITN’s Plays and Playwrights 2017 anthology. Suzanne holds an MFA from the Actors Studio Drama School at the New School University. 

For more information: www.spittinginthefaceofthedevil.com 

Get to know the rest of the 2018 Conference Workshop Presenters; just click here.

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