Past Adoption Initiative Conferences

With a 20-year history of conferences focusing on adoption, the Adoption Initiative has created an outlet for addressing adoption-related issues in practice, scholarship, sociopolitical context, and families. 


Currently, we are preparing for the

2020 Adoption Conference

The Tenth Biennial Adoption Conference

June 9-11, 2016 - St. John's University Manhattan Campus/Cooper Union Campus

The Evolution of Adoption Practice: Activist and Community Perspectives

The Tenth Biennial Adoption Conference will be held at St. John's University Manhattan Campus and at Cooper Union's Campus. Once again, it is sponsored by St. John's University and Montclair State University


2018 Adoption Conference

The Adoption Initiative, hosted by the Alliance for the Study of Adoption & Culture

October 18-20, 2018 - Oakland, CA

Formations: Thinking Kinship Through Adoption

The 2018 Adoption Conference was held at the Oakland Asian Cultural Centre in Oakland, CA in cooperation with the Alliance for the Study of Adoption & Culture (ASAC). In 2018, The Adoption Initiative Conference (AIC) teamed up with the Alliance for the Study of Adoption & Culture (ASAC), and hosted a series of panels at ASAC's Seventh Biennial Conference. This unique opportunity brought the two organizations together and combined the unique focus each brought to the issues concerning adoption. By promoting interdisciplinary culture-based scholarship and creative practices that address old and new formations of kinship through the lens of adoption, presenters aimed to expand current knowledge of the experience, institution, and cultural representation of adoption and kinship."


2017 Adoption Conference

June 2, 2017 – St. John's Manhattan Campus

Unpacking Complex Identities, Adoptee Microaggressions and Oppressions

The Adoption Initiative 2017 workshop was held at the Manhattan Campus of St. John's University. During this daylong workshop, presenters addressed complex human identities and experiences. Focusing primarily on transracial and international adoptee identities, this training by Dr. Amanda Baden and Sue Harris O'Connor focused on models of adoption identity and on adoption microaggressions. The presenters addressed the implications for clinical practice, personal development, and training for mental health providers. Dr. Rafael Javier lead the presenters and the audience in a critical and insightful examination of the material as applied to transracial adoptees' lived experiences."


2016 Adoption Conference

The Ninth Biennial Adoption Conference

June 9-11, 2016 - Montclair State University Campus

Myth and Reality in Adoption: Transforming Practice Through Lessons Learned

The Ninth Biennial Adoption Conference was held at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey and was again sponsored by St. John's University and Montclair State University. For the 2016 conference, we drew upon the lessons that the history of adoption and the practice of adoption had 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. We sought to explore the ways in which adoption has been portrayed on multiple levels: personally, interpersonally, socially, and politically. Presenters explored the portrayals of adoption in media, the impact of those portrayals, and the ways in which these images of adoption contributed to the myths that exist about adoption, adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents. Presenters helped to generate the information and "lessons" that were needed to correct misinformation, assumptions, and biased judgments.

Keynote Speakers:Dr. Mary Dozier, Dr. Elizabeth Raleigh, and Robert O'Connor, MSW

Keynote Panelists:Ruth McRoy, PhD, Kat Nielsen, MSW, & Melanie Chung-Sherman, LCSW      


2014 Adoption Conference

The Eighth Biennial Adoption Conference

May 29-31,2014 - St. John's University Queens Campus

Sleeping Giants in Adoption: Power, Privilege, Politics, and Class

The Eighth Biennial Adoption Conference was held at the St. John's University Queens Campus and was again co-sponsored by Montclair State University as well as by other organizations. For this conference, the focus was placed on examining the connections between social class, power, politics, and privilege in adoption. The conference theme highlighted both historical and emerging practices in adoption, with a critical eye on considerations of whose privileges have been preserved, are currently being served, and whose interests should be better served.The conference continued its three-day format which consisted of a film night on Thursday evening followed by two additional days of speakers, workshops, and presentations.

Keynote speakers:Dr. Laura Briggs, Dr. Gina Samuels and various discussion panels featured aBirth Parent Activist Panel, an Adoptive Parent Activist Panel and an Adoptee Activist Panel


2012 Adoption Conference

The Seventh Biennial Adoption Conference

October 18, 19, and 20, 2012 - St. John's University Manhattan Campus

"Best Interests of the Child?": Race, Religion, and Rescue in Adoption 

The Seventh Biennial Adoption Conference was held at the St. John's University Manhattan Campus and was again co-sponsored by Montclair State University as well as by other organizations. For this conference, the focus was placed on examining the intersections between religion, race, and the ideology of child saving and child rescue via adoption. The conference continued its three-day format which consisted of a film night on Thursday evening followed by two additional days of speakers, workshops, and presentations.

Keynote Speakers: Ambassador Susan Jacobs, David Smolin, Darron Smith, Jae Ran Kim, and Susan Harris O'Connor.


2010 Adoption Conference

The Sixth Biennial Adoption Conference

October 14, 15, and 16, 2010 - St. John's University Manhattan Campus

Open Arms, Open Minds: The Ethics of Adoption in the 21st Century

The Sixth Biennial Adoption Conference was held at the St. John's University Manhattan Campus and was again co-sponsored by Montclair State University as well as by other organizations. This conference addressed the current and future state of ethical matters pertaining to adoption. The conference was expanded this year to include an additional Thursday night event that consisted of a film viewing and follow-up panel discussion. The conference also featured two days of speakers, workshops, and presentations.

Keynote Speakers:Dr. Trevor Jordan, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, and David Smolin.


2008 Adoption Conference

The Fifth Biennial Adoption Conference

October 24 and 25, 2008 - New York University Campus

Identity and the Adopted Teen: Surviving the Crucible of Adolescence

The Fifth Biennial Adoption Conference, although sponsored by St. John's University, was held on the campus of New York University, a co-sponsor of the conference.

The conference was again a two-day event and was co-sponsored by Montclair State, the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University, and the School of Social Work Institute for Families at Rutgers University. This conference addressed adoption during adolescence, one of the most important stages of development. This well-recognized and important conference featured two days of speakers, workshops, and presentations.

Keynote Speakers:Dr. Hal Grotevant, Dr. Gerald Mallon, Debbie Riley, and Holly Van Gulden.


2006 Adoption Conference

The Fourth Biennial Adoption Conference

October 13 and 14, 2006 - St. John's University Manhattan Campus

Families Without Borders? Adoption Across Culture and Race

The Fourth Biennial Adoption Conference was also held at the St. John's University Manhattan Campus and was again co-sponsored by Montclair State University as well as by other organizations. This was the first conference to run for two full days as well as one of the first academic and research-based conferences to solely address issues of transracial adoption. This conference focused on transracial and transcultural adoption. Our continually growing conference featured two days of speakers, workshops and presentations as well as a screening and discussion of several films Friday evening.

Keynote Speakers:Dr. Ruth G. McRoy, Hollee McGinnis, Susan Harris O'Connor, Dr. Amanda Baden, and Dr. John Raible.


2004 Adoption Conference

The Third Biennial Adoption Conference

October 15 and 16, 2004 - St. John's University Manhattan Campus

The Dynamics of Adoption: A Three-Way Mirror

The Third Biennial Adoption Conference was the first in our series to be held at the St. John's University Manhattan Campus as well as the first to include an evening film screening on the Friday evening prior to the full-day conference held on a Saturday. Montclair State University became a co-sponsor of the event for the first time.

In this conference, we facilitated a dialogue that allowed conference attendees to hear directly from adoptive parents, birthparents, and adoptees as well as from therapists with expertise in adoption who will assist in better understanding the dynamics that occur within adoption triads. Representatives of the adoption triad explored the overt and the covert dialogue that occurs between adoptive parents and birthparents throughout adoptees' lives.

Keynote Speakers:Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao and Dr. Joseph Crumbley.


2002 Adoption Conference

The Second Biennial Adoption Conference

September 21, 2002 - St. John's University Queens Campus

The Lifelong Adoption Journey: Through the Eyes of the Adopted

The Second Biennial Adoption Conference took place in 2002 again at the St. John's University Queens Campus. At that conference, we continued the dialogue from the first conference, and we explored the lifespan adoption issues and concerns of adopted persons were examined based on the experiences of four panels of adopted persons who were also psychologists, social workers, business people, adoption advocates, journalists, and filmmakers.

Keynote Speakers and Panelists including:Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao, Dr. Betty Jean Lifton, Reverend Thomas Bosnan, Dr. Douglas Henderson, Penny Callan Partridge, and Dr. Amanda Baden.


2000 Adoption Conference

The First Biennial Adoption Conference

October 21, 2000 - St. John's University Queens Campus

The Adoption Journey: Psychological, Socio-Political, and Legal Challenges

The First Biennial Adoption Conference took place in 2000 at the St. John's University Queens Campus. This conference addressed the psychological, sociological, socioeconomic, sociopolitical, and legal implications of adoption for the adoption triad (adopted persons, birth families, and adoptive families). Through that conference, mental health and human service providers were charged with the task of bringing much needed attention to the adoption triad experience.

Keynote Speakers:Dr. Betty Jean Lifton, Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao, and Dr. Ronald Nydam.