Theme: 2016 AIC

9th Biennial Adoption Initiative Conference

June 9-11, 2016

(Thursday evening to Saturday evening)

Over the past 15 years, the Adoption Initiative has developed conferences centered around themes addressing ethics, religion, race, class, adolescence, birth and adoptive family communication, and the need for the mental health community to gain adoption competence.

Drawing upon our tradition of using a critical lens to examine and explore adoption practice, policy, and positioning, we are pleased to announce the theme and title of our 9th Biennial Adoption Initiative Conference:

Myth and Reality in Adoption:

Transforming Practice Through Lessons Learned

For the 2016 conference, we will draw upon the lessons that the history of adoption and the practice of adoption have taught us. Over time, adoption practice has shifted from a practice focused upon social reform targeting marginalized members of society to a more modern practice in which adoption is marketed as both a form of family creation and as a form of rescue within a larger industry. These shifts in adoption practice have taken place largely at the behest of those wielding social and political power, whereas those most affected by adoption—children, their mothers, families, and their communities—have often had little to no power to affect these portrayals. The gap between myth and reality in adoption may create challenges for those who are impacted by actions outside of their agency, voice, and control.

For this conference, we will explore the ways in which adoption has been portrayed on multiple levels: personally, interpersonally, socially, and politically.

  • Marketing, media, films, and music all portray adoption in various ways using both positive and negative lenses, but what have we learned from these portrayals?
  • How have these portrayals contributed to the myths that exist about adoption, adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents?
  • What information and “lessons” are needed to correct misinformation, assumptions, and biased judgments?
  • Furthermore, how can adoption practice (e.g., adoption placement and post-adoption support) better inform and be transformed by replacing myths with realistic lived adoption knowledge and by drawing upon the lessons we have learned through the history of adoption practice?

With these questions in mind, we seek proposals that address the connections and dissonances between adoption’s history, mythology, and lived reality, and which propose active guidelines for future practice.

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