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Contributing Authors to It's Not About You: Understanding Adoptee Search, Reunion & Open Adoption

I am thrilled to announce a project that has been in the works for a while. It's Not About You: Understanding Adoptee Search, Reunion, & Open Adoption is a book written for adoptive and birth parents and their therapists. After repetitive conversations with adoptees (and sometimes their parents) about reactions to their search and reunion, I knew we needed a book to share with adoptive and birth parents on the topic. I have been blessed with a wonderful group of contributing authors who have added their voices as adoptees, adoptive parents, birth parents, and therapists. The group includes people I admire, people I have worked with, people I call friends, and some I am just getting to know. I look forward to sharing their writing with you, publishing this book with Entourage Publishing, in late 2016. 

In no particular order other than how I arranged the photos

Christina Romo  

Christina Romo was adopted from South Korea at age 2. She works for an adoption organization and shares her journey as an adoptee through her blog, Diary of a Not-So-Angry Asian Adoptee. Her writing has also been featured in The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and Blogher. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and their two sons.

Maris Blechner, LCSW

Maris Blechner is an educator, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and a nationally respected trainer and speaker who has spent the last 38 years working for the improvement of the lives of children and families in the child welfare system.  She is also the parent of three children by birth and adoption. Maris relates proudly that she comes from the citizen-activist child-advocacy community, and brings that neighborhood and personal family experience to her professional work. She is one of the founders of Family Focus Adoption Services, and was its first Executive Director for twenty-six years. These days she enjoys mentoring for Children’s Corps and teaching at the Silberman School of Society Work at Hunter College. This year she has been featured as a story-teller (about adoption) on the Moth Radio Hour, on NPR and podcasts.  

Brooke Randolph, LMHC

Brooke Randolph, LMHC, is a therapist, wife, and parent (adoptive, step, one-time kinship, and even grand). She is also a private practice counselor in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was a founding member of MLJ Adoptions, Inc., where she served as the VP of Social Services for seven years. She is a Young Professionals Advisory Board member for The Villages, which is Indiana’s largest not-for-profit child and family services agency, serving over 1,400 children and their families each day. She is the former mental health expert contributor at, a national diet and fitness column. Brooke adopted an older child internationally as a single woman, which she considers one of the most difficult and most rewarding things she has ever done. She is the author of The Bully Book: A Workbook for Kids Coping with Bullies (2016) and a contributing author to Adoption Therapy: Perspectives from Clients and Clinicians on Processing and Healing Post-Adoption Issues (2014). She has authored adoption education materials and presented at numerous conferences and workshops throughout North America. Brooke is primarily motivated to encourage, equip, and empower individuals and couples toward more whole-hearted living and conscious relationships.

April Dinwoodie

April Dinwoodie is a nationally recognized thought leader on adoption and foster care. As Chief Executive of the Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI), April is committed to improving laws, policies and practices through sound research, education and advocacy. She is also a co-founder and Vice President of the Board of Fostering Change for Children, a progressive nonprofit that helps drive innovation in the child welfare system. Before joining DAI, April created a specialized mentoring program called “Adoptment,” in which adults who were adopted and/or spent time in foster care serve as mentors to youth in care. As a trans-racially adopted person, April shares her experiences at workshops and conferences to help potential adoptive parents and professionals understand both the beauty and complexity of adopting children of different race.

Joshua Redfern, LCSW

Josh likes to say that he "eats, sleeps, and breathes adoption." Before he graduated with a Masters in Social Work in 2007, Josh found his passion for adoption while doing an internship for an adoption agency. At the same time, he and his wife were being led to adoption personally. He has since worked in domestic adoption (both in agency and in independent adoptions) and international adoption. He has provided domestic and international home studies for families all over the world. He is an active member of the Utah Adoption Council and is an advocate for ethical adoption and open adoption. He has a wonderful wife, Lindsey, who is an adoption advocate and writer. They have been blessed to adopt five children.

Barbara Freedgood, LCSW

Barbara is an LCSW, licensed certified social worker, in the state of New York.  She is a graduate of Fordham University School of Social Work, the NYU Post-Doctoral Training in Marriage and Family Therapy and Joyce Maguire Pavao’s Adoption Certification Training.  She has been a therapist in private practice since 1980. She has written and presented internationally on infertility and adoption issues. She runs support groups for adoptive parents and is the mother of two children, who are now adults, she adopted at birth in the United States. Her blog, Ruminations on Adoption can be found on her website:

Kristin Berry 

Kristin lives in Indianapolis with her husband and six youngest children. She has two grown daughters, two sons in law, and a granddaughter as well. She spends her days juggling a part time job as a Family Life Minister, blogging on and cleaning up after three dogs and four chickens. She enjoys reading, writing, and hiking with her family. 

Deesha Philyaw 

Deesha Philyaw is a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer who writes about race, gender, parenting, and pop culture. Along with her ex-husband, she is the co-founder of and the co-author of Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Children Thrive in Two Households After Divorce. Her publication credits include The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Stepmom, Essence, Brevity, and Bitch magazines; and anthologies such as When We Were Free to Be: Looking Back at a Children's Classic and the Difference It Made; Motherhood Memoirs: Mothers Creating/Writing Lives; Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined; and The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat.  

Deesha is originally from Jacksonville, Florida. She graduated from Yale in 1993 with a BA in economics, and she also holds a MA in Teaching from Manhattanville College. She is a Fellow at the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction; was a finalist for the 2015 Lascaux Prize in Short Fiction; and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for essay writing in 2015. Deesha has hit the mama trifecta: She is an adoptive mom, a biological mom, and a stepmom of four daughters.

Gayle Swift 

An adoptive mother of two now-adult children and a former foster parent, Gayle H. Swift is also a certified coach and co-founder of GIFT (Growing Intentional Families Together). A fifty-year survivor of ovarian cancer, she believes in the joy of the present moment and the blessing of family relationships. In her travels with her family, Gayle has zip-lined in Costa Rica, paraglided in Peru, hiked to the Sun Gate above the citadel of Machu Picchu, and trekked the Mendinhall glacier in Alaska, but parenting proved to be the greatest adventure of her life. She writes two blogs: “Growing Intentional Families Together” (for GIFT Family Services) and “Writing to Connect,” which she co-writes with her daughter, Casey. It features book reviews written through an adoption-attuned lens. Adoptive Families Magazine named their multi-award-winning book, ABC, Adoption & Me: A Multicultural Picture Book, a Favorite Read in 2013. Gayle lives in Florida with her husband and a quirky mini-schnauzer named Shadow.

Kerrie Siegl, LCSW

While obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development from Purdue University, Kerrie became passionate about the unique differences in people based on their life experiences, family history, and biological make-up. Kerrie graduated with a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from the Christian Theological Seminary of Indianapolis. Kerrie works in private practice seeing child, teens and adults with a variety of mental health and relational issues. She is driven to help individuals and families learn to develop healthy relationships and help people of all ages uncover their strengths and discover their own abilities to find healing. She is passionate about children who have been adopted and are trying to attach to their caregivers. She worked for Bethany Christian Services as an adoption therapist obtaining training in several attachment modalities, and then moved on to work in community mental health in the school systems with children in K-12. She has worked in a variety of mental health settings including home based services with foster care children, adoption services (home and school), school-based and home based services to low-income families in Central Indiana. Kerrie is married and has two young children.  She is active in her local church and other community activities.

Lynn Grubb 

Lynn Grubb is a Baby Scoop Era adoptee and adoptive parent.  She graduated from Wright State University and is a certified paralegal.  Although born and adopted in the Chicago, Illinois, area, Lynn and her adoptive family settled in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio, where Lynn spent her childhood reading Nancy Drew mysteries, swimming, playing soccer and participating in the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Lynn enjoys writing about the complexities of adoption and recently edited the adoption anthology, The Adoptee Survival Guide: Adoptees Share Their Wisdom and Tools. Lynn’s other passions include genetic genealogy, reading non-fiction, watching true crime T.V., singing and playing the keyboard and violin. Lynn blogs at Lost Daughters and No Apologies for Being Me.

Annie Jacobs 

Annie Jacobs is a midwesterner at heart who has lived in NYC for the past 11 years. She is a theatre professional who has educated herself on the complexities of adoption after relinquishing her only child in 2010. Since her son was born, she has spent her time cultivating a relationship with her son and his adoptive parents - a gay couple who also lived in NYC. She spends some of her spare time trying to educate others about what open adoption can be and what her experience as a birth parent has been. 

Jodi Haywood 

Taken at age two, Jodi grew up in a closed relative adoption and eventually reunited with both parents. Married with a teenage daughter and adult stepdaughter, Jodi has contributed to Adoption Therapy (Entourage, 2014), The Adoptee Survival Guide (2015) and Flip the Script (The AN-YA Project, 2015). Also a fiction writer and a proud member of the Marathon Maniacs running club, Jodi is working toward a bachelor's degree in psychology and qualifying for the Boston Marathon. She plans to continue her studies and work in post-adoption counseling, with a focus on neurological disorders.

Bari Benjamin, LCSW, BCD

Bari Benjamin is a former English teacher turned psychotherapist who practices in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She lives with her husband and her nineteen year old adopted daughter originally from Moscow. She is also the stepmom to four adult children. She has published memoir essays in Adoption Today and StepMom magazines as well as several anthologies and Chicken Soup of the Soul books. She is currently working on a book of letters to her daughter. 

Erik Deckers

Erik Deckers is a professional writer, book author, and owner of a content marketing agency. He is the co-author of Branding Yourself, and No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine. He is also a newspaper columnist and professional speaker. He and his wife Toni are the proud parents of three adopted children from Bolivia and Haiti, Maddie, Emma, and Ben.

Mary McBride 

Mary McBride is an American turned Londoner, a wife to a tech geek husband, a mother of two Ethiopian daughters, a home educator, and a chocolate and doughnut enthusiast. She is passionate about adoptive parent education, adoptee rights, open adoption, and pursuing best case scenarios for children who have experienced trauma. She might not get things right the first time, but she will keep trying. 

Kimberly Paglino

Kimberly Paglino is a New Jersey born and raised adopted person. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland, she went on to earn a Masters degree in Social Work from Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Kimberly has past professional experience in the area of child welfare, including as a case worker for the New Jersey Department of Children and Families. She additionally has developed and presented educational seminars for pre and post adoptive parents at various adoption agencies and parent groups throughout New Jersey and in New York. She has prior served as an Instructor at Monmouth University, teaching in areas of Social Welfare Policy & Services and Human Rights and Social Justice.

Since 2007, Kimberly has been an advocate with the New Jersey Coalition for Adoption Reform and Education (NJ CARE) and has testified for adoptee’s rights before the New Jersey State Legislature. She is proud to have been a part of the effort to have enacted the New Jersey Birthright Bill signed into law on May 27, 2014, by Governor Chris Christie, which allows New Jersey adopted persons to access their original birth certificates.

Deanna Binkofsky

I was raised in Richmond Heights Ohio by Joe (1933) & Aggie Pullella (1936-2008). My dad, a proud Italian from Little Italy, and my mom, a Syrian Queen (at least that’s what she told us) loved shopping for antiques and cooking. My parents were always more than good to me. I was about seven years old when my mom came to me with a children’s book explaining adoption, we read it together and she told me I was adopted. I still have that book. 

My Dad worked as an Electrician, my Mom stayed home with me and my older brother, Joe (also adopted at birth, no not my “real” brother…I hate that question!). We had a fairy tale life, for the most part - spoiled rotten and loved and accepted by so many! I dropped out of high school my senior year, got my GED in 1996 and have been working at Progressive Insurance since 1999. My Husband and I married in 1998. We have four kids Alisandra, Gabrielle, Luke, and Joseph. We live Timberlake, Ohio, with our dogs Lola and Georgie.

Deanna Doss Shrodes 

Deanna Shrodes is the Women's Ministries Director for the Pen-Florida District of the Assemblies of God. She is an ordained Assemblies of God minister and served for 28 years as co-pastor alongside her husband, Larry who is lead pastor of Celebration Church Tampa (AG). She is a speaker in demand in the United States and abroad, an accomplished musician, worship leader, songwriter and certified coach. Deanna is an award winning writer and contributing author of five highly acclaimed anthologies and sole author of the books, JUGGLE: Manage Your Time, Change Your Life; Worthy to Be Found; and RESTORED, all published by Entourage Publishing. She has been featured in many publications worldwide, including The Huffington Post.

Karen Belanger 

Karen Belanger is an adult adoptee and the author of "Assembling Self" an adoption poetry book and writes at her blog of the same name. She has contributed at The Lost Daughters bloggers and is included in the "Lost Daughters Anthology" as well as "Adoption Therapy" books. She has a piece published in the book "The Adoptee Survival Guide" and is now working on her second book. She inherited her biological mother's love of dance, cooking from scratch, growing roses, and her great grandmother's musical talent. Karen is the mother of three grown children and in her spare time she also enjoys reading, working out, and helping other adoptees on their paths towards healing."

Wendy Barkett 

Wendy was born in 1972 and raised in a closed adoption in Ohio. She began her search for truth at the age of 18 and found some of her answers 14 years later in 2004. She continues to write from the heart without any filters in hopes of bringing a better understanding to those who decide to join her journey. She is the author of Shadows of a Dark-Alley Adoptee and contributed to the adoption anthology, The Adoptee Survival Guide: Adoptees Share Their Wisdom and ToolsAs the first adoptee to receive her OBC on March 20th, 2015, she continues to speak of her search as well as the feelings surrounding it with hopes that all states will open their records to adoptees.

Jeff Chafin

Jeff Chafin was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1966, but relocated to Georgia in 1985 during his senior year of high school. He attended Savannah College of Art and Design. He is currently a freelance graphic designer in the printing business. Growing up with an identical twin brother did not feel like a normal childhood, and they fought to establish their own identities. Jeff event tattooed his own finger in 6th grade to help people be able to tell them apart. He was 25 when his life took an unexpected change. He reluctantly signed adoption papers knowing that someone would be able to give his daughter more then he could. He married at age 34 and had no other children. He is very recently reunited with his daughter and navigating that new relationship.  

Lucy Sheen 

Made in Hong Kong and exported to the UK as a transracial adoptee. Lucy is a dyslexic actor, published writer, filmmaker, trainer and transracial adoptee advocate. She loves Dim sum and Yorkshire puddings.

Her first professional job was the female lead in the British feature film PING PONG (1987), the first ever UK feature to look at the history and issues of the British-Chinese community. Other films credits include: Secrets & Lies (1996), Something Good:The Mercury Factor (2013). Theatre credits include: Julius Caesar-Bristol Old Vic (1987); Drink the Mercury nominated for a TMA (first British East Asian actress to be so nominated in1990); Hungry Ghosts Tim Luscombe, nominated an OFFIE (Of West End) for best actress 2010. Plenty directed by the award Thea Sharrock (2011). TV credits include: Prime Suspect 2; Eastenders; Lovejoy and Nighty Night series 2. Radio credits include: Words On A Night Breeze, Bound Feet and Western Dress. Lucy’s documentary Abandoned, Adopted, Here is now complete, she’s finished a writing commission for the renowned Royal Court Theatre in central London, Restrain your grief and adapt to the mishap and is working on two new full-length plays. Her next performance is an extract from Ungrateful-A Paper Daughter on The Southbank

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