Adoptee Panelists
We The Experts: Adoptee Speaker Series​

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There are currently 28 names in this directory
Bachner, Suzanne
Panel: To Search or Not To Search (October 2020)

Suzanne Bachner is a domestic adoptee and native New Yorker, adopted into a closed adoption through Louise Wise Services. Suzanne’s award-winning hit play, The Good Adoptee, (TheGoodAdoptee.com) about her search for her origins and first/birth parents in the face of NYS’s sealed records, has toured across the US and has been part of law and life-changing adoptee rights advocacy. The Good Adoptee is currently being produced as groundbreaking virtual theatre. As a once ambivalent and then completely obsessed searcher, Suzanne is passionate about empowering and supporting her fellow adoptees in their searches, stalls and decisions not to search.

 

Batt, Laura
Panel: Adoptees and Mother's Day (May 2020)

Laura was adopted domestically as an infant. She has been in reunion with her biological mother since she was 19 years old, shortly after making an adoption plan for her eldest son. Her son, now 22 years old, was entrusted to a family in a semi-open infant adoption. They reunited when he was 16 years old and now have regular contact. Laura is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has worked as a professional in adoption, as a medical social worker, and as a therapist in community mental health. She is parenting her 12-year-old and 1.5-year-old sons. Laura is actively involved in supporting open record laws in the state of Oregon.

 

Bos, Kara
Panel: Adoptee Liberation or Exploitation: Pros and Cons of DNA testing (July 2020)

Kara is a transracial adoptee from South Korea, at the age of two she came to the United states where she was raised in Michigan, she now lives in Amsterdam. Kara was able to find a nephew through a DNA match which recently led her to find her biological father. She has worked to legally prove that he is her father which would make it possible for them to meet. This experience proved to be much more complex because of hostility from other family members. Kara is passionate about sharing her experience on a world platform, with the hope that she is able to uplift the adoptee voice to secure fundamental adoptee rights and ultimately bring effective change for the future.

 

Bryant, A.J.
Panel: Adoptees and Parenting or Deciding Not to Parent (April 2020) 

A.J. , an Indian adoptee, at 1 year old, was raised in Wisconsin and New Jersey. He is the parent of four-year-old Sonali and eight-month old Valentine and husband to Sasmita, an Indian immigrant. He and Sasmita are raising their children with ties to their Indian roots, while recognizing they live in the U.S and in Western culture. The birth of his daughter Sonali was a profound event for him, as she is his first biological connection in 36 years. Sasmita’s family resides in India and they traveled there in 2017, and have plans to return within the next two years. AJ blogs and can be found on Twitter @adoptedkeralite.

 

Cady-Reheis, Carlos
Panel: Adoptees, Mental Health and Suicide Awareness: Break the Silence, Break the Stigma (September 2020)

Carlos Cady-Reheis is an amazing young man. After being adopted from Peru, circa 18 months old, and growing up near Golden, CO he always felt self conscious about his brown skin. This along with a cleft lip created confidence problems. Not the least of which was with his involvement in relationships. In 2009 he harmed himself after a big breakup, ever since he has tried to make the most of life. Maybe his abandonment as an infant caused him to struggle thru breakups heavily. Now married and stay at home dad with a 2 year old daughter, life is more stable.

 

Carr, Chris
Panel: Adoptees and Our Relationships with Fathers (June 2020)

Chris was adopted from Seoul, South Korea through Korean Social Services in 1990 to a family near Columbus, Ohio. In 2008, he traveled to Korea with the Korean Ties Program and was able to meet his biological parents/family. Since then, he has kept in touch and visits when possible. His adoptive and biological fathers have not met yet, but Chris hopes one day they will be able to. In the fall of 2019, during a visit to Korea, Chris learned additional pieces of his adoption story and hopes the healing process for everyone can begin.

 

Chisholm, Chad
Panel: LGBTQ+ and Adoptee Identity (August 2020)

Chad is a domestic adoptee born in the 1990’s. His commercial photography business keeps him busy in his studio and on location. Married to his husband for 6 years, together for 11 years, Chad has been out since he was 17 years old. Chad actively participates in conversations and committees serving the LGBTQ+ communities. Chad has contributed to various LGBTQ+ platforms, and publications as well as serving on the Visit Denver LGBT committee. Navigating the adoption narrative, Chad enjoys volunteering his photographic talents to the Heart Gallery in Colorado, where he currently lives.

 

Cordano, Pam, MFT
Panel: Adoptees, Mental Health and Suicide Awareness: Break the Silence, Break the Stigma (September 2020)

Pam Cordano, MFT, is passionate about healing from trauma and despair. Born to a mentally ill and abusive teenage mom in 1965, Pam was in foster care before being adopted at 6 months. She grew up feeling deeply lonely and estranged from her life. It wasn’t until she was 46 yrs old that she definitely knew she wanted to be here, alive, looking for ways to connect with the world. It means a lot to Pam to participate on this panel because feeling suicidal is often a secret, which makes it more dangerous. Working together, we can more effectively understand and intervene with suicidality in the adoptee population.

 

Corriveau, Jenna
Panel: Adoptees and Parenting or Deciding Not to Parent (April 2020) 

Jenna is a 37 year old Colombian Transracial Adoptee, raised in CT. She and her partner Tucker have 2 children, 5 and 2 years old. Having children is what pushed Jenna completely “out of the fog” and now she’s focused on connecting with her roots, in a variety of ways, and sharing it all with her children. She feels like motherhood has been her ultimate journey of self-discovery.

 

Davis, Jordan
Panel: Adoptee Liberation or Exploitation: Pros and Cons of DNA testing (July 2020)

Jordan is a domestic, Black transracial adoptee from the Midwest. At an early age, Jordan was able to connect with one of his younger biological brothers, who was also adopted but by another family. Jordan traveled to Louisiana with his brother to meet their first/birth mother, their other siblings, and unexpectedly, their first/birth father in 2019. Several months after reunion, however, Jordan learned additional information regarding the identity of his first/birth father. Jordan is currently navigating the pros and cons of DNA testing as a domestic adoptee and as a person of African descent.

 

Forero-Hilty, Abby
Panel: Adoptee Liberation or Exploitation: Pros and Cons of DNA testing (July 2020)

Abby was adopted as an infant from Bogotá, Colombia to a suburb of New York City. She grew up as an only child and always dreamt of one day finding her mother in Colombia. In 2012 Abby was (re)united with her mother and the maternal half of her family. Five years later, Abby worked with 16 fellow Colombian adoptees to publish the book, Decoding Our Origins: The Lived Experiences of Colombian Adoptees. All proceeds from the anthology go toward purchasing DNA kits for first families in Colombia and helping Colombian adoptees worldwide to get affordable DNA kits. Abby believes all adoptees and immediate first family members should have access to affordable DNA kits and be fully informed about the potential pros and cons of DNA testing if they decide to test.

 

Gibbons, Blake
Panel: Adoptees and Our Relationships with Fathers (June 2020)

Blake is a queer domestic Adoptee, and resident of Colorado. They are in a master's program studying child welfare history, policy, and trends in social values and beliefs. Blake is the curator of Not Your Orphan, a YouTube channel covering Adoptee-centric topics and discussions. In the past two years Blake met their first/birth father, and also lost their Adoptive father; “I am humbled to have the opportunity to discuss the concept of fatherhood with fellow adoptees.”

 

Gieseke, Shelise
Panel: To Search or Not To Search (October 2020)

Shelise Gieseke is a transracial Korean adoptee raised by a white family in rural Minnesota. Shelise has volunteered and worked for Adoption Mosaic intermittently since 2009. She has also served as an editor for the blog and online magazine Land of Gazillion Adoptees (now dormant). Shelise is the only adoptee in her family. Her older brother, older sister, and younger brother are her parents’ biological children. In 2011, with the help of the adoptee organization G’OAL, Shelise traveled to Korea with her husband to search for her Korean family. While in Korea, she was able to visit her Korean adoption agency, view her original intake paperwork, and she also appeared on a Korean TV show. However, she did not find her Korean family. Shelise enjoys writing, speaking, and engaging with members of the adoption constellation about the adoptee experience.

 

Gorie, Jeannie
Panel: Adoptees and Mother's Day (May 2020)

Jeannie is an international Colombian adoptee. Adopted at 17 months old to an Irish Catholic family who had adopted her brother a year prior, who is also adopted from Bogotá Colombia. When she was 22-years-old, she became pregnant and at the time very alone and placed her son in an open adoption in Seattle. Since then she has had a strong relationship with both her son and his extended family.

 

Guida-Richards, Melissa
Panel: To Search or Not To Search (October 2020)

Melissa Guida-Richards is a transracial adoptee. She was adopted in 1993 from Colombia to a family in the USA. She is an author and host of the Adoptee Thoughts podcast who has written essays about finding birth family on Huffpo about finding half-siblings on 23andMe, and her experience as a late-discovery adoptee. Find her on Insider, Level, Zora,Electric Literature, and her next book, THE WHITE SAVIOR MENTALITY, will be out in Fall 2021. She is excited to be on this panel to talk more about the nuances of searching for biological family.

 

Gyu, Daniel
Panel: LGBTQ+ and Adoptee Identity (August 2020)

Daniel (he/they) was adopted transracially from South Korea at 4 months old to a family who raised him in Chicago. He is currently living in Portland where he is an artist, educator and community organizer. Daniel has worked as a teaching artist for the Right Brain Initiative, a cultural worker and placemaking artist for the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, and most recently helped create Yeondae, an action-oriented social justice collective building solidarity for Korean American adoptees. Daniel looks forward to being on this panel to share how being a queer transracial adoptee has opened him up to an exponentially complicated web of intersectional identities and how that has fueled his passion to impact reform to institutional systems.

 

Hagland, Mark
Panel: LGBTQ+ and Adoptee Identity (August 2020)

Mark Hagland was born in South Korea in 1960 and adopted by American parents, and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a professional journalist, and has been living in Chicago since 1981. He has spent two decades participating in in-person and online forums around transracial adoption. He has spoken dozens of times at a variety of in-person conferences, on such topics as transracial adoptee identity formation, physical self-image issues, birth-country visits, and transracial adoptees' social relationships. He has also written articles and has contributed to several anthologies of books written by teams of adult transracial adoptees, including Parenting As Adoptees, Outsiders Within, and The Unknown Culture Club.

 

Hasberry, Abby, PhD
Panel: Adoptees, Mental Health and Suicide Awareness: Break the Silence, Break the Stigma (September 2020)

Dr. Abby Hasberry is a transracial adoptee. She struggled in silence with anxiety and depression for most of her life. Using her expertise in racial identity development, Abby began coaching transracial adoptees, but realized that therapy was the true need, not coaching. She is currently in school to become a licensed professional counselor to address the lack of African American, adoption-experienced counselors. She is excited to be on this panel to share her experiences and to break the silence of mental health and adoption.

 

Haynes, Brooke
Panel: Adoptees and Mother's Day (May 2020)

Brooke is a domestic adoptee in her early 40’s. She has two children: A daughter whom she had at age 15 and a son at age 36. She put her first child up for adoption and is raising her second child in an non-traditional arrangement with his father. Being on both sides of adoption, including having a biological child, she has experienced many dynamics of the adoption constellation and loves sharing her story with others and supporting those who are navigating through their own journeys.

 

Lane, Summer
Panel: LGBTQ+ and Adoptee Identity (August 2020)

Summer is a transracial adoptee, adopted into a closed private adoption. She was born in Arizona, raised in Wyoming and currently lives in Seattle. Currently, Summer is spending her time in Hood River, Oregon kiteboarding taking time to ponder a possible career change. Summer has been in reunion with her biological family for over 15 years. She identifies as a cis gendered, polyamorous, pansexual woman. To her, being pansexual, means she is attracted to persons of all genders and orientations. She has come out to many people in her adoptive family but not her biological family. She is excited to be on this panel to share her story.

 

Olyer, Stephanie
Panel: To Search or Not To Search (October 2020)

Stephanie Oyler a transracial adoptee, adopted out of the US foster care system at the age of four. She is a licensed master social worker, therapist, speaker, and writer. She currently leads the clinical support to all members of the adoption constellation pre-and-post adoption for her county's adoption unit. At the age of 18, Stephanie began the process of initiating the process through her adoption agency to reunite with her first family. She was in reunion with her first mother for almost 12 years before her mother passed. She found her extended paternal family through Ancestry.com and is now in reunion with her paternal Aunt. Stephanie is also the founder and owner of Adoptee LIT, LLC which provides consultation and education to families impacted by adoption. She looks forward to speaking on this panel about the pros and cons of choosing to search or not and why she ultimately made the decision to find her first family.

 

Parmer, Jessenia (Jae)
Panel: Adoptees, Mental Health and Suicide Awareness: Break the Silence, Break the Stigma (September 2020)

Jessenia Adriana Parmer, mental health advocate, consultant, and suicide attempt survivor. Abandoned as a baby and abused in her adoptive family, Jessenia endured a life of trauma and adversity. Jessenia seeks to empower adoptees to live alive and stay alive, as well as reduce suicide risks in adoptees, promote wellness in the adoptee community, and exemplify how to move from a space of pain to peace and pain to power. Jessenia joins this panel in remembrance of the adoptees we have lost to suicide and to those who silently fight to stay alive.

 

Riaño, Danni
Panel: Adoptees and Our Relationships with Fathers (June 2020)

Danni was adopted transracially in Colombia and lived there with his adoptive parents and adoptive Colombian brother until the age of four. His family then moved to the US with his American father and Colombian mother in 1994 where he was raised in Minnesota and Nebraska. He’s been in reunion with his biological parents for the last two years. He has a complicated relationship with his adopted father but has found a new healing relationship with his biological father.

 

Salisbury, Liz
Panel: Adoptees and Parenting or Deciding Not to Parent (April 2020) 

Liz was adopted from Seoul and is currently living in the Denver area. At an early age, she knew she did not have a desire to have children and currently has a very high maintenance cat who fulfills a child-like role. While children of her own are not in her future, that does not stop her from being a doting aunt to her friend's kids.

 

Slack, Tamera
Panel: Adoptees and Mother's Day (May 2020)

Tamera was adopted domestically as an infant in 1965. In her adoptive family, she was the youngest child of three, with two older brothers, one adopted, one biological. At age 18, she became pregnant and under extreme pressure from her adoptive parents and their church community, her son was relinquished into a closed adoption. 25 years later she found her son as well as her own birth mother and her three younger half sisters. Tamera is now passionate about ethical adoption practices that are informed and focused on supporting and protecting birth mothers, birth families and adoptees.

 

Taylor-Mosquera, Jacob
Panel: Adoptees and Our Relationships with Fathers (June 2020)

Jacob was born in Cali, Colombia and adopted at seven months to a family in Washington state. He has returned to Colombia seven times, having lived and worked there while searching for, and finding his biological mother. He is now in his 12th year of searching for his biological father, who does not know he exists. Jacob maintains a loving relationship with his adoptive father but topics surrounding race, ethnicity and privilege do not arise.

 

Wenger-Davis, Saiming
Panel: Adoptee Liberation or Exploitation: Pros and Cons of DNA testing (July 2020)

Saiming was adopted when she was just over one year old from Jiangxi, China to a LGBTQ+ family. At the age of 3, they adopted her younger sister who is also from China. Saiming has participated and volunteered with Adoption Mosaic for years. She is currently not in reunion with her birth family, but has used 23andMe to start her search. She is excited to share both her hesitation and excitement of the pros and cons of DNA testing.

 

White, Kathryn
Panel: Adoptees and Parenting or Deciding Not to Parent (April 2020) 

Kathryn is a domestic adoptee in her mid 50’s. She and her wife Sue have two children. They co-parent their oldest, a 22-year-old biological child, with two dads. Their teenage son is, among many other things, an adoptee; he was born in Guatemala. Both Kathryn and Sue have adoptee siblings. With two decades of parenting behind her Kathryn still has plenty of questions and very few answers, but the journey continues to be incredibly meaningful.