Sally Bacchetta is an award-winning writer and adoptive mother.  Sally believes that, “adoptive families navigate emotional terrain that fully biological families don’t have to.  Biological parents don’t wonder if their son’s birth mother is still living with her abuser, or using drugs, or in jail; they don’t have to formulate a response to…Are you going to give me away some day“?

Sally has written and published an invaluable book, calledWhat I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent’s Perspective.  She draws on her educational and professional background in psychology and counseling to illuminate the private thoughts of adoptive parents with sensitivity and startling honesty.

Because we know this magazine’s readers are very interested in honest voices, we are pleased to have Sally share her experiences and insights.  Sally is brave enough to say to the whole world, “I know adoption is painful, unsettling, joyous, and affirming.  It’s that way for me too.  More than anything, adoption is the way that we became together, and I’ll always be grateful for that.

We are grateful to have Sally as part of this magazine.

Sally blogs at The Adoptive Parent.



Stacee Ballback is a 23-year-old adoptee born in South Korea and raised in Newport Beach, California. Stacee believes she “won the lottery of life” through her adoption into a loving and supportive family in the sunny state of California. She has two older brothers who are twins and are also adopted.

She was adopted through Holt International when she was just five months old and in 2012, she volunteered her summer working at Holt Adoptee Summer Camp, which really opened her eyes to the world of adoption. Stacee has spent a lot of time working with children and majored in psychology as an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz.



Steve Ballback is an adoptive father of three young adult children.  Steve liked the idea of international adoption because he knew he would be uncomfortable with an open adoption, and almost all International Adoptions are inherently closed.

Steve did not care that his three adopted children—all from Korea— did not look a thing like him, and never will.  And no one has ever mistaken Steve, who is six foot five inches tall and blonde, for his children’s birth father!

He had no pre-conceived ideas about what his children would be able to do, or what they would like to do, so he was pleasantly surprised when his twin boys turned out to be phenomenal athletes because Steve is very athletic as well.

He also enjoyed his daughter’s creative talents; and her ability to make everyone feel loved and cared for.  This also included many lost and forlorn cats rescued by his daughter and his two sons.  He is constantly and wonderfully surprised at the richness that his children have brought, and still bring, to his life.

Here at Adoption Voices Magazine we feel it is important to get a “Dads Point-of-View” on adoption because dads are sometimes reluctant to engage in this process.  Steve’s stories will help everyone see how natural the adoption process can be when you have realistic expectations and unending love to give.



Brandon Baugh is a husband to a birth mother. He attended School in Laramie, Wyo., receiving a degree in diesel technology and business management. He is currently working in his field of study as a diesel technician for a fleet of over the road trucks.  His wife Tiffany is not only a birth mother but also an adoptee. He started writing about adoption back in November of 2010 after he was on a husbands of birth mothers panel called “So I Married A Birth Mother” and spoke with many of the concerned and scared young women who were also birth mothers. He started writing his blog in the hopes of helping these young women confront their fears and feel strong about telling there story and creating confidence in their decision and knowing that “You Are Worth It”. He and his wife have a very open adoption with her little girl and the adoptive couple. Because of  how open their adoption is with her little girl and the adoptive couple, it has opened many windows and blessings into their lives.



I have no details about by birth mother’s state of mind, nor about my situation when she would relinquish me to an orphanage in Seoul.  The professor who chose me from the row of cribs simply was doing his job for my adoptive parents in the United States.  I am sure there were many others he could have chosen.  I was very ill and may not have lived if I hadn’t been chosen.”  Kim Brown — adopteeadoptive parent of two children from Korea, and advocate for all children around the world — joins the magazine to give many unique perspectives on the complexities of adoption from around the world.

Kim and Jane Ballback, Adoption Voices Magazine executive editor, met doing volunteer work for the Holt International Adoption Agency where Kim was a board member and board chair for 10 years; and CEO for three years.  Kim spent 13 years of his life traveling the world, negotiating with governments, dealing with social workers, visiting orphanages, and working tirelessly for the 143 million worldwide orphans.

Like the founders of Holt, Kim believes, that “every child deserves a home.”  He is grateful to his birth mother, the Korean government, and his loving adoptive family for giving him the life he was granted when he was chosen to live and then be transported to America.

The world is a better place with Kim in it, and children everywhere will continue to be served if he has anything to say about it.



Whitney Casey is a 25-year old post-reunion Korean adoptee. Raised by a loving family in the Midwest, Whitney had little interest in her adoption story growing up, until she found herself back in South Korea for work in 2010. During the year-long journey in her mother country, she was reunited with her birth parents, two brothers, and a huge extended family. Whitney has since returned to the U.S. and is passionate about sharing her experiences with other adoptees who may have questions about their own adoption stories or are interested in searching for their birth families.
Whitney is happily engaged to her fiancee, Lee, who is also a Korean adoptee, and currently resides in Nashville, TN. Stories from her time in Korea can be found at her blog, is this going to be asian-themed?



Mark Coen, is a founder of the Attachment and Trauma Specialists, an internationally recognized agency specializing in the treatment of young adults with attachment and trauma related issues.   Mark’s expertise is working with children and adults who have experienced trauma, have attachment issues, and trouble interacting with in the family and/or social groups.

Mark and his wife Monica, are also the adoptive parents of a child they adopted from the foster system at seven years old. Mark says, “I learned to laugh and not take things so seriously.  I am determined to rise to the challenge placed before me.

We are so fortunate to share Mark’s professional and personal expertise here at Adoption Voices Magazine.



Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy is a mother of four children, the oldest relinquished to adoption in 1987.  She is a writer, editor, and a director of social media who has been blogging since 2005.  Her goal is to see national adoption laws in place and a complete overhaul of the adoption industry.

She has spent hours writing about her deepest feelings and talking to people about what it’s like to relinquish a child.  She says, “I am just one woman who made a terrible mistake and will do what I can to stop the pain, and loss, and grief of adoption for as many more as possible.”

Although she “lost” her son to a closed adoption, she has since reunited with him but still does not feel like it makes her story a happy one.  She summarizes her experience by saying, being involved in the adoption community and writing for this blog has been the single most fulfilling thing that has happened in spite of the lifetime of loss and grief that began when I called the adoption agency.

The minute we read her blogs, we knew she was a “voice” this magazine needed to present the entire picture of the adoption experience.

Readers will learn a great deal from this fascinating first mother.

Claudia’s blog is at Musings of the Lame



Russell Elkins is a proud and loving father of 2 children through the miracle of open adoption. Russell has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and is the owner and operator of his own small business, Elkins Dental Lab. He and his wife, Jammie, live in Boise Idaho.

Russell is the author of Open Adoption, Open Heart: An Adoptive Father’s Inspiring Journey, which takes the reader through all the beautiful, uncomfortable, and intimate details of their journey with adoption. Russell and Jammie are outspoken adoption advocates and can be seen often speaking at public events, promoting their books, sitting on panels, blogging, writing songs about adoption, writing adoption poetry, and just about anything possibly associated with adoption.



Sherrie Eldridge

Author and Speaker

Best-selling author, speaker, and reunited adoptee, Sherrie Eldridge, survived the odds and has become an internationally-recognized author and speaker in the field of adoption. She is the Founder of the non-profit, faith-based educational organization called Jewel
Among Jewels Adoption Network, Inc., and is best known for the best-selling book Twenty Thing Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew (1999, Random House). The greatest compliment she has received was from an adoptive dad who said she had a beautiful heart because she was willing to tell him what his daughter might experience as she grows up. More info about Sherrie’s resources:



Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is the founder of The Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center in Austin, TX. She specializes in working with clients who have been impacted by trauma and loss, including adoption, abuse, and neglect. Robyn loves helping children heal from trauma, calm their explosive behaviors, and quiet their worries, all while supporting and encouraging their parents. Robyn also works with adults whose lives have been impacted by adoption, including adults adopted as children and families who have lost children to adoption. Robyn blogs about parenting, adoption, and adoptive parenting.

“I truly believe as though I am doing the work I was destined to do. Every day I marvel at how lucky I am to spend my working days with children and families, helping them discover within themselves what they already possess.”

In addition to her therapy practice, Robyn is the President of the Board of Directors of Adoption Knowledge Affiliates, a nonprofit education and support group in Austin, TX that brings together the entire adoption triad.

AKA is my constant reminder that the greatest teacher is not books, certificates, articles or conferences. The greatest teacher is the people living adoption every single day.”



Valerie Gough is a talented therapist, and an adoptee, who specializes in children’s and adolescent issues, and the many issues of adoption.  Her adoption story tells us much about the way adoption used to be handled, and offers a poignant story of what it is like when a “reunion” is filled with both happiness and sadness.

Valerie’s training and personal experiences makes her an invaluable resource to adoptive parents and children.  Not only does she understand “adoption behaviors,” she is very skillful at giving parents the tools to be a better parent.

At the age of 40, Valerie gave birth to her own baby boy.  She said, “He was a preemie who began life in the incubator.  Fortunately, his mother never left him. For the first time in my life, I looked into  eyes and a face that resembled mine.  I was a complete”.

We are so happy to share Valerie with the readers of Adoption Voices Magazine.



Kara Granelli is 17 from New Jersey.  At her high school Kara participates in Class Council, Mayors Youth Advisory Cabinet, gymnastics, and dance.  She also volunteers at the Pediatrics Unit in the hospital, works two jobs, and writes poetry.

Adopted when she was just a baby, she expresses her curiosity about her origins through poetry.  She says, “When the world shuts me down, the one thing that can’t say ‘no’ is my paper and pen.” 

Kara’s biggest inspiration is Rachel Joy Scott, one of the victims killed in the Columbine Shooting.  She says “Rachel believed in kindness and ‘not being labeled as average.’”  These are Kara’s values as well.  Kara enjoys children with the hopes of becoming a Pre-school teacher and also wants to be an accomplished writer in the future.

It is exciting to have such an insightful and talented young adoptee as a contributor.



Rebecca Hawkes is a reunited adult adoptee and a mother to two daughters — one by birth and one by adoption. She writes about family from both points of view on her blog Love Is Not a Pie.

She adopted her daughter Ashley from foster care and has developed a surprisingly close relationship with Ashley’s original mother. Together, they have founded Ashley’s Moms, an organization focused on supporting families and encouraging open-adoption relationships that benefit the adopted child.

Rebecca writes beautifully about many aspects of adoption, including her own.  She says, “an important therapeutic moment happened the day I fully acknowledge myself as the child of two mothers, allowing myself to embrace that duality and all that is meant.  I suspect I’m not the only adoptee to internalize the struggle between two mothers. The day I gave up the belief that I needed to prioritize one definition of “real” over the other, something important, shifted within me, I felt wholeness.”

She is also a certified Parent Effectiveness Training and Beyond Consequences Institute instructor.



Eric Horwitz is an adoptive dad of two children — a girl from China, and a boy who was adopted domestically through an open adoption.  “From the day we agreed to adopt, I knew I would not be raising a little clone of myself,” says Eric.  Eric was less sure about what it meant to be part of an open adoption.  His first discovery about birth mothers was that they were passionate about their children to whom they gave life, and even thought of them daily.  Eric never again made the mistake of thinking that the birth mother’s loss was ever diminished, or that one child was replaceable with another.

Eric wasn’t sure if open adoption meant a very minimal exchange of cards and pictures or more involvement.  His son’s birth family, including brothers and sisters, eventually became Eric’s extended family, celebrating birthdays and holidays together.  If you ask Eric if this has created chaos or discomfort over the years, he will say…certainly!  If you ask him if it has been worth it, he will say…absolutely!  Eric will tell you, our son’s life and ours have been greatly enriched through these relationships, and the knowledge they have brought.

You will enjoy Eric’s stories, and come away with a new understanding of what open adoption can bring everyone involved.



Linda Hoye is a writer, editor, adoptee, and somewhat fanatical grandma whose work has appeared in many publications in Canada and the United States.Linda believes in the blessings of adoption.  She had adoptive parents who gave her a very good life.  She is thankful that now, for the most part, adoption is no longer mired in a culture of secrecy and shame.  She also believes that the person she became was in no small way impacted by the fact that she was removed from her family of origin, and then adopted by another family.

She struggled as a child, as a teenager, as young adult, and even well into adulthood.  She often wondered who she was supposed to be and where she fit in.  She says, “I have had a sense of shame at my core, not for anything I did, but for who I am. I had been terrified of being abandoned, I have been plagued with deep and unresolved grief, and I tread softly and leave a small footprint because of the sense of not being entitled to what other people are entitled to.”  Her memoir,  Two Hearts: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Grief to Gratitude was published June, 2012.

Linda worked hard to understand herself and her past, and will share her journey of this discovery.  Her “footprint” is valuable and important to the people who love her, and to all the people she touches with her writing.

Sandra Hughes Kazarian, former CBS news correspondent on the Evening News, is the biological mother of two children, and the adoptive mother of Joe, from Russia.  Sandra says, “I know you’ve likely heard and read many stories about international adoptions gone wrong.  Mine went right, but it took some work. International adoption isn’t for the faint of heart.”

When Sandra and her husband Brian arrived in Russia, they found a six-month-old boy who looked like he had red hair, but it was instead a very bad case of scalp eczema.  He had barely been talked to or touched during his first six months of life, and at first he rejected all attempts at physical touch and intimacy with his new parents.  Sandra, who had been told that her son might have problems or attachment issues, said, “Surely not mine.  I’ll just love that right out of my little one.”  She later said, “After having two biological children, trying to mother Joe was a bit of a blow to my mommy ego.”

Sandra’s sister-in-law is a physical therapist and very helpful teaching Sandra how to start from scratch and treat Joe like a newborn infant, which in many ways, he was.  It has been an ongoing learning processfor mother and child, but also filled with unbelievable joy.  One day when Sandra was going to work, there was an emotional scene in her kitchen that most women dread.  As she kissed Joe goodbye, he began to have a complete meltdown.  Sandra laughed through her tears. Her son was beginning to attach to her in all the right ways!



Karen Caffrey, LPC, JD is an adoptee, a psychotherapist who counsels adoptees, a blogger, a former member of the board of an adoption agency, and a former practicing attorney.  She was adopted in Connecticut before records were closed in the mid-1970s, and her adoptive parents were provided with her birth name and shared this information with her.  She recalls always knowing she was adopted.  As a teenager, with the support of her adoptive mother, she searched for and reunited with her birth family.  She finds that both of her families are like most families:  loving, messy, fun, caring and at times, crazy.

With over thirty years of personal reunion experience and two decades of professional involvement in the world of adoption, Karen believes in a philosophy of inclusion that does not attempt to force adoptees into an “either/or” bind between their adoptive and birth families.

She is also passionately committed to adoptee rights.  She believes all adult adoptees should have access to their original birth certificates and complete information about their birth heritage.  She is involved with the grassroots organization Access Connecticut that seeks to restore original birth certificate access to adult adoptees.

Karen’s belief in adoptee rights is consistent with her philosophy of inclusion and connection.  “It is arrogant and cruel to suggest that any human being has the right to sever another from the biological tree of humanity. We are born with the right to belong.  The truth is that we are all connected. I believe the truth will set you free.”



Carol Lozier, MSW is a clinical social worker in private practice in Louisville, Kentucky.  She graduated from Florida State University in 1989, and is licensed in the state of Kentucky.  She has spent over twenty years counseling children and families, specializing in adoption and foster care issues.  She is passionate about helping children heal from past trauma and loss.



Leslie Pate Mackinnon has maintained a private psychotherapy practice for over 38 years. She resides in Atlanta and presents both nationally and internationally on issues that impact families conceived through adoption and third-party reproduction. She’s been on Good Morning America with Robin Roberts, and on CNN to discuss the impact of the Internet on adoption. She was most recently featured in Dan Rather’s investigative report, Adoption or Abduction?

Leslie’s story is included in the book; The Girls Who Went Away, and a documentary A Girl Like Her. Drawn to the field by placing her two firstborn sons for adoption when she was a teenager, Leslie’s passion today is educating as many therapists as possible, before she drops! She currently serves on the Evan B. Donaldson’s Board of Directors. For more information about Leslie, please visit



Judy Miller is a parent (birth and adoption), educator and support specialist living in the Midwest with her husband and four children. She coordinates and teaches parent preparation education to parents who are in the adoption process: transitioning into parenting; parenting and adoption; psychosocial development of adopted children.

Judy is the Adoption Pro for Parenting Squad’s ProSquad.  Her essays and articlesappear in adoption and parenting magazines and her stories are featured in many publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom (Chicken Soup for the Soul).  She is also the author of the international selling book, What to Expect from Your Adopted Tween.

Judy believes that adoptive parents can’t “walk in the shoes” of their children, unless they themselves have been adopted; and even if that is the case every experience and person is unique.  Adoptive parents can try, but we have no idea what being severed from our birth family and being adopted by another truly feels like. We can empathize and be supportive. We can, if open adoption is an option, embrace it. We can foster a culture of openness — engage, listen, and encourage dialogue. But the ambiguous void of nothingness, the well of grief, still exists for our children who have been adopted.



Patricia J. Mosca is the author of Permission Slips For Your Heart and Soul, as well as a writer, artist and a dreamer. She began truly living her creative journey 11 years ago. She is a mother who entrusted her son to the adoption system 43 years ago, and in 2012 was finally reunited with him. She is the proud mother to 3 incredible children and the grandmother to 4 wonderful grandchildren. She is  currently in the process of writing about her reconnecting with her son and the healing that is taking place.



Dr. Barbara Paden is an adoptive mother of two children from Russia.  Barbara has been to Russia five times, is learning to speak Russian, and volunteers with the agency that facilitated her children’s adoptions.  She has made it her business to learn as much as she can about Russian children in need and works to help them in many ways that go beyond the adoption process.  She is a fierce and outspoken advocate for all children, including her own.

Barbara’s daughter, like so many institutionalized children, had major health and emotional issues at 14 months old.  Barbara says, “She couldn’t stand or walk or talk.  I’ve never seen such a tiny child with veiled eyes, and knitted eyebrows.  It was as if she had battled the entire world until the first moment we saw her.”

Barbara’s experience with her son, also from Russia, turned really interesting when he was six years old.  Six years old is a typical time when many adoptees begin to really realize what has happened to them.  Like many adoptees, her son assumed he must have done something horrible since he ended up in an orphanage.  He seemed to be functioning well on the outside, but was torn apart inside.

Barbara is the kind of mother who knows how to laugh at herself and the situations she finds herself in. Barbara shares her experiences in her blog, Babes from Russia



Penny Callan Partridge is an adoptee who grew up in an adoptive family in the 1940s and 50s.  As a young adult and a “child of the 60’s,” she joined the Peace Corps and went to West Africa to work.  There, she had the most momentous occasion of her life.

As she sat in the village where she was working, a dog gave birth to her puppies right in her lap.  Penny says, “That put me in touch with my own birth.  I thought of that woman out there who had pushed me out of her own body, and I couldn’t believe she wouldn’t want to meet me.  I did meet her nine years later, with the help and support of my adoptive parents.  Meeting Catherine provided emotional ground under my feet, and made me feel real.”

Penny chooses to share her experiences through poetry.  “You may or may not like poetry, I myself read plenty of poems from which I get nothing, but then a poem will just zing into my heart saying something that I must have needed to know.  I guess that’s why I’ve always wanted to be a poet.”

Penny has published her poetry in a book called, The People They Brought Me, Poems in the Adoption Community.  You will enjoy this lyrical and wonderful voice.



Since selling her first book at the age of 10 to an obliging neighbor for $.25, Kim Dixon Perez has turned her love of language into a full-time freelance writing career.  For 20 years she’s helped organizations and individuals tell their stories through public relations and other communication materials.

Kim also has an interesting story herself. She was adopted, and had a happy childhood that was also filled with a very strong longing — to find someone that she was related to by blood.  As a child, she was fascinated with the fact that other people looked like each other.  For a while she tuned into other peoples’ teeth…Donny and Marie Osmond had the same smile, the Bee Gees had the same teeth; and in the world of make-believe, the Brady Bunch manufactured a family where the boys looked just like dad, and the girls looked just like mom.

She did not have a reunion with her birth family, but did find some records that showed that she had many things in common with her birth mother.  Kim always thought that having her own birth child would be the key to finally having someone who looked like her.

She’s recently dealing with the fact she will not have birth children, and so this longing for someone for whom she shares the same bloodlines and heritage will continue.  We are  very excited to have Kim share her adoption experiences with our readers as she continues to think and write about  life, families, and being connected to others who are adopted and feel the same longing.



Susan Perry was adopted through a closed, domestic, agency-facilitated adoption in 1950.  After experiencing a serious medical crisis, she searched and found her original mother in 2003.  That process exposed her to the legal and institutional discrimination that adoptees face, and she has become committed to adult adoptee rights.  A retired English teacher and public relations professional, she has been working with the New Jersey Coalition for Adoption Reform and Education (NJCARE) for the past ten years to update adoption law in New Jersey and to allow adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates.  She is also active at Lost Daughters bloggers and in the Adoptee Rights Coalition.

The mother of two daughters and the grandmother of six, she has been happily married for over 40 years.  She and her husband spend a great deal of quality time with their grandchildren!  In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, biking, kayaking at the New Jersey shore, skiing, and of course, blogging at Family Ties



Elaine Pinkerton, author and educator, avid hiker and grandmother of three, holds MA degrees in literature from the University of Virginia and from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Writing is her first love, but she’s held many other jobs, including ski coach, technical writer, defensive driving instructor, and elementary school librarian.

She is a freelance journalist, with articles published in Runner’s World, Family Circle, New Mexico Magazine and Tumbleweeds Family Magazine. Her published works include the book The Goodbye Baby, A Diary about Adoption.

A lifetime of keeping a diary, combined with the desire to face the issues of growing up as an adoptee, resulted in The Goodbye Baby, A Diary about Adoption.  After the deaths of the four people closest to her, she reviewed the written past, as reviewed in her diaries. The resulting insights helped her shed the past and know the way to a future.



Kris A. Probasco, LCSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states of Missouri and Kansas. She has practiced since 1972 in her specialty of adoption, infertility and reproduction. This work included state foster care and special needs adoption, director of adoption agency and fertility practice. Kris now consults with three fertility medical practices in the Kansas City area, that focus on families formed by a donor conception. Her agency, Adoption and Fertility Resources, is a licensed child-placing agency in both Missouri and Kansas. Kris provides some placement services for domestic and embryo adoptions, which include counseling for prospective birth and genetic families. Outpatient therapy services are available for all infertility and adoption related issues. In 2004, she established the first successful local embryo donation and adoption partnership with a fertility clinic and attorney. Additionally, Kris maintains a general psychotherapy practice offering services to individuals, couples, and families.



Abandoned at the age of six months, raised by a mentally ill man and an alcoholic woman in a bizarre, emotional roller coaster of a childhood, Rhonda Sciortino used the coping skills from her childhood survival to start her own business and develop it, along with her other investments, into a multi-million dollar balance sheet.

In her book, Succeed Because of What You’ve Been Through, Rhonda tells how she overcame the “crazy-making” events of her childhood, how she went from poverty, filth, hunger, and loneliness to affluence, order, fulfillment, and relationships. More importantly, she shares how you can use the obstacles in your life as stepping stones to a great future.



Sharon Roszia is an internationally known educator, presenter, and author who has devoted 50 years to the institution of foster care and adoption.  She has also co-authored two books about open adoption and has been featured in newspapers and magazines across the country.  Sharon has parented by birth, adoption, and foster care.  She has watched her family grow to include seven great-grandchildren.

When Sharon began a career as a social worker, babies were matched by religion, hair color, and race.  Infants were being placed right out of the hospital, and were considered “clean slates” after birth.  If they could look like their new family, it was presumed that the adoption would be fine.  Pregnant girls were hidden in maternity homes and told to forget about their child after birth.

Despite Sharon’s sterling world reputation, Sharon is a rule breaker.  Sharon says, “The first time I broke the rules was in the early 70s.  I brought together a small group of pregnant women for a pool party, so they would not feel so alone.”   She helped begin the open adoption movement by breaking another rule which allowed everyone involved in the adoption process to meet together without their attorneys.  It was the start of including everyone involved in the adoption process that eventually led people to make the decisions that were in the best interest of the child.

Sharon very early realized that adoption has lifelong implications for all that it touches and that all of the professionals involved need special training to do the work.  This is why Sharon was the first contributor asked to join Adoption Voices Magazine.

We are thrilled and honored to have her.



Deanna Shrodes is an adoptee who is a pastor, writer and conference speaker internationally. She was adopted in 1966 in a closed, domestic adoption and has been in reunion with her mother, sister and brother since 1993. Like many adoptees post-reunion, she still does not have her original birth certificate. Healing from post adoption issues has been a progressive journey throughout her life.

Deanna is passionate about bringing hope and healing to adoptees as well as expanding the Christian community’s understanding of adoption.  She says, “There are between 6 and 7 million adoptees in America. Many are hurting desperately, due to post-adoption issues. Countless adoptees have experienced a lack of understanding and disconnection with Christians and the church. I aim to provide a place of hope and healing for adoptees and educate Christians about what they can do to help adoptees.” Deanna blogs at Adoptee Restoration.

Deanna and her husband Larry have been married and co-pastoring  for 25 years, the last eleven years  of which have been serving as the lead pastors of Celebration Church Tampa. The Shrodes have three children, two young adults and a teenager, all of whom are very involved in serving in church ministry. Their oldest son currently serves as the youth pastor at Celebration Church.

On Deanna’s day off she lives in her pajamas or rides her bicycle, though usually not at the same time.



Karl Stenske shares a rich and compelling story as an adoptee. Being one of the many who had a great adopted family, he never thought being adopted had a big effect on his life.  But at 37, he began to unravel the true impact adoption did have on his life and the lives of those who loved, and tried to love him.

A sought after speaker and educator, Karl offers insights into the wounds created when any child is separated from his birth mother. In, The Hidden Life of an Adopted Child: Understanding the Impact of Adoption, he explores the traumatic experience suffered by that separation and its influence on self-esteem, value, worth and identity.

Karl was awarded his Individualized Master of Arts degree focusing on Adoption Studies and continued his work to identify the impact adoption has on all members of the triad, and beyond, as well as the need to understand and grieve by all involved.

His work is marked by an ability to share powerful personal and academic information through the lens of his own adoption. His writings are deeply personal and moving; layered with information, understanding and hope.

His description of his truth-telling discussion with his adopted Mom will leave you wanting to hear more.

Karl writes, “In some way I think we both knew this day would come eventually. We would dance around the subject and let it fade into the background as we moved on like nothing happened. It was a dance we had perfected over the years; both knowing when to lead, when to follow, and when to bow out completely. A dance that would one day come to an abrupt and crashing end when the music stopped. We prayed the music would play on forever, but today, today the music stopped.”



Author Kelsey Stewart has lived as a birth mother for over 20 years.  Before turning 20, she placed her only daughter up for adoption in Missouri, and two years later, her twin sons were placed into adoption in California.  She worked to make both adoptions “open adoptions,” and over the last two decades, Kelsey has traveled that ever involving road that had largely been marked by passion to educate people on the realities of adoption.

Before Kelsey could do this, she needed to get rid of her overwhelming feelings of shame.  Kelsey tells us, “It was hard to face, and even harder to work through, but work through it is what I did. Learning to love myself, and accept myself was a huge lift to my soul.”

Kelsey wrote and illustrated a book for children called, The Best for You.  This is a book that adoptive parents can use with their children to help them begin to understand their own journey and their birth mothers.  Through mutual cooperation and communication with her children’s adoptive parents, Kelsey has relationships with all three of her adopted children.  When Kelsey married and settled down in California to raise her two birth sons, her daughter was in her wedding.

Kelsey and executive editor, Jane Ballback, met via social media, when she posted to Jane’s daughter’s post about what it was like growing up as an adoptee.  Kelsey was very taken with the fact that Jane had taught her children to love their birth mothers; and tried to help them understand the difficult decision their mothers had needed to make, and the unselfish love that went into making that decision.

We know that Kelsey will help everyone involved in the adoption process understand the feelings of love and loss that happens simultaneously in all adoptions.

Kelsey blogs at A Birth Mother’s Voice



Tina Traster is an adoptive parent of a girl from Siberia, and a journalist, columnist and essayist. She is writing a memoir about parenting her daughter, who was eight months old when she was adopted, and had attachment issues. Her memoir, which will be published in 2014 by Chicago Review Press, is a story of despair, hope and small miracles. Traster, who is a New York Post columnist, and a Huffington Post blogger, has written several essays about adoption. Her works have appeared in newspapers, magazines, including Adoptive Families Magazine, literary journals, several “mommy” blogs, and on NPR. Her essays have been anthologized in literary collections Living Lessons, Nurturing Paws, Little Blessings and Mammas and Pappas. She is the author of Burb Appeal Too and Hits & Misses: New York Entrepreneurs Reveal Their Strategies.

In 2010, after Torry Ann Hansen put her adopted Russian son on a plane, alone, back to Moscow with a note pinned on his sweatshirt that said she could no longer parent the child, Traster’s essay about her own experience was widely published. In it she said that the world viewed Ms. Hansen as a monster, but Traster understood where she was coming from. She had walked in her shoes. The idea for Traster’s memoir, as yet untitled, sprung from that painful event.

Traster’s website on her adoption story is She has produced the video “The Kids Are Not Alright,” which is on the site. Traster also maintains another website,, where her work is archived.



Amanda Woolston is a twenty-something adult adoptee, mother, unapologetic feminist and humanist; social worker and blogger.  Amanda’s blog is the outlet for her writing and advocacy about adoption issues.  She has been included and quoted in many publications, and has provided her opinion for policy statements for organizations – both in the US and abroad.  She has provided education and testimony for bill hearings and legislators in more than seven states.

Amanda believes that, “adult adoptees are a primary source for knowledge about adoption as an institution.  Their perceptions are unique, for adult adoptees are actually the only persons who can tell us what it is like to live adoption in a society in which most people are not adopted.”  The name of her blog, the Declassified Adoptee, refers to the fact that when she unsealed records and discovered her original family members, she was able to understand her own story in a new light.  Amanda has said, “The government who feels our records must be sealed think our origins are too shameful to be seen.  But mine have been unsealed and I am not ashamed. I am declassified.”

Amanda provides the magazine with a much-needed perspective, she has already taught us a great deal.



Jeanette Yoffeis an Adult Adoptee and Former Foster Youth. As a psychotherapist, author, blogger, educator and speaker, she shares her personal and professional experience on adoption and foster care across the country. She is passionate about training and encouraging parents to raise confident and well-adjusted children through adoption. She earned her Master’s in Clinical Psychology, specializing in children, from Antioch University in June of 2002. She has specialized for the past 12 years in the treatment of children who manifest serious deficits in their emotional, cognitive, and behavioral development.

In 2006, Jeanette received the Foster Care Hero Advocate award for the Foster Care Awareness Campaign from the County of Los Angeles for her outstanding contributions to the children and families served by the Los Angeles County Foster Care System.
Jeanette’s writing and work comes directly from her own heart felt experiences…

I am one of those people who in the past would “stuff’ and “abandon” my early experiences because of the “shame” I felt. I truly thought “I had done something wrong” to cause my birth family and foster family to leave me. After years of difficult soul searching, therapy and the love and support of family and friends I have come to realize that there is no running from this sense of shame; there is only understanding where it comes from, rising above it and moving past.



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