Monday, June 8, 2020 | 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

NYU Silver School of Social Work 
1 Washington Square North
New York, NY 10003

NYSED Approved for 7 CE contact hours


Family building in 2020 is far more complex than even ten years ago.  Adopters, adoptees, placing birth parents, donors and recipients of donor materials may interact with professionals during their family building process or seek assistance once parenting.  The helping community lags behind in understanding today’s variables and how to help those in need. Beyond the various sub-sets within adoption, this full-day presentation will look at contemporary adoption, including the hidden realities in all forms of family formation and how a clinician’s personal experiences influence their work with individuals, families, groups and institutions.

Learning Objectives


  • Recognize that adoption has distinct sub-categories that meet various needs.
  • Identify the needs of those sub-categories and how to work with the different individuals within.
  • Understand the sometimes-hidden realities of adoption and why they are not more overt in contemporary society.
  • Learn how clinicians’ personal experiences influence their work with individuals, families, groups and institutions.


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Maris H. Blechner, M ED, LCSW

Maris H. Blechner, M ED, LCSW is an adoptive and birth parent, a licensed clinical social worker and educator, and an internationally respected trainer and speaker who has spent the last thirty-nine years working for the improvement of the lives of children in the child welfare system. One of the founders of the parent-led multi-service adoption agency that she directed for twenty-six years, 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. These days she also enjoys mentoring, doing specialized consulting and training, and teaching at her own school, the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College.  She has recently been featured as a story-teller (about adoption) on the Moth Radio Hour, on NPR and podcasts, and even on the BBC.

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Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW

Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. Through her private practice and agency affiliations, she has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled expectant, birth, pre/post adoptive parents and adopted persons, as well as trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA and a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series and the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood. She is currently on the Adoption Professional Advisory Council of HelpUSAdopt, a member of the Advisory Board of the Family Equality Council and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York.  Her blogs and written contributions can be seen throughout the Internet, including as Head Writer for She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001.

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Rich Buley-Neumar

Rich Buley-Neumar began his adoption journey when he and his husband began investigating adopting a newborn. Instead, their first son was 16 when they met him. Soon after, having “learned in the trenches,” he was hired by Family Focus Adoption Services to provide peer support to other families going through adoption transition with tough teens. Now the Associate Director of the agency, he has gone on to adopt three more teen boys, and is visiting with a fifth maybe-son. Rich does agency training of applicant families, and has presented workshops nationwide on adoption best practices, including agency competency in working with LGBTQ applicants.

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April Dinwoodie

April Dinwoodie is a transracially-adopted person and nationally recognized thought leader on adoption, foster care, and non-traditional/multiracial families.  She is the former Chief Executive of the Donaldson Adoption Institute, the founder of Adoptment -- a mentoring program that matches foster youth with adopted adults, and hosts “Born in June, Raised in April” a podcast about adoption, identity, and family.  As an inclusion and diversity expert, April works with families, corporations, non-profit organizations, schools, and other government agencies to strengthen family relationships and support the healthy identity development of all children and young people. 

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Joni S. Mantell, LCSW

Joni S. Mantell, LCSW is Founder and Director of the Infertility and Adoption Counseling Center (NYC/NJ). Through her extensive clinical work with infertility patients, birth and adoptive parents, parents through donor conception, adoptees, and donor conceived individuals over the past 25 years, she has cultivated a deep understanding of the life cycle and interrelationship issues in these complex modern family formations. She is particularly known for her expertise in helping couples and individuals “cross the bridge” from infertility to parenting, as well as helping parents work through their own complex losses, grief, shame and/or anxiety – as their own emotions can interfere with their communicating openly, sensitively and effectively with their children. She also does donor sperm and gestational carrier evaluations, offers counseling for individuals surprised by their DNA results, offers a Therapeutic Writing program for birth parents, supervises therapists, and is a frequent writer and "Ask the Expert" contributor to Adoptive Families Magazine.