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Presenter Bios

Robin Bartko

John H. Maclean

Dawn Choate

Todd Ochs, MD

Alla Gordina, MD FAAP

Inna Pecar

Lark Eshleman, Ph.D.

Dr. Thomas Phelan

Dr. Ronald S. Federici, ABPN, FACAAP

Michelle Schultze

Michelle M. Hughes, J.D.

Margaret Schwartz

Tatyana Komarova

Ellen Singer

Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A.

Mary Beth Wells

Robin Bartko

Robin Bartko

Robin Bartko, founder of ThinkingOfAdopting.com, is a mother of three, including her youngest who was adopted from Russia in July, 2004.  Robin is very active in the adoption community, going to adoption conferences and adoption related seminars on an ongoing basis. She is also involved daily in adoption support groups.

Dawn Choate

Dawn Choate

Dawn Choate is a mother of four children including two daughters, Maggie JieLing (age 3) and Hannah AiLi (age 2), adopted from China.  Dawn’s story of the attachment challenges she faced with Hannah were featured in the June/July issue of Adoption Today magazine as well as on RainbowKids.com. Dawn and her husband Roger are co-owners of a computer software business and live in Kentucky.

Alla Gordina, MD FAAP

Alla Gordina, MD FAAP

Doctor Alla Gordina is a board-certified pediatrician, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and a member of its Section on Adoption and Foster Care.

Dr. Gordina graduated from Moscow Medical School, and for several years practiced pediatrics and pediatric dermatology in Moscow, Russia. While practicing in Russia, Dr. Gordina also worked in Moscow pre-schools and nursery schools.

Since 1994, Dr. Gordina has been practicing general pediatrics and adolescent medicine in Central New Jersey with Global Pediatrics & Family Medicine. She has a special interest in adoption and foster care, developmental pediatrics, and such conditions as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and bronchial asthma. During her many humanitarian missions to the Ukraine, Dr. Gordina provided consultation services in pediatric clinics and orphanages in Kiev, Zhitomir, and Odessa.

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Lark Eshleman, Ph.D.

Lark Eshleman, Ph.D.

Lark Eannace Eshleman, Ph.D. is a child and adolescent psychotherapist who is an expert in working with children who have experienced early emotional trauma, attachment difficulties, neglect and abuse.  She became a Certified School Psychologist in Pennsylvania in 1994, is Board Certified in Domestic Violence by the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, and has had successful careers as an elementary school principal and a children’s librarian.

Dr. Eshleman is the founder and director of the Institute for Children and Families (ICF) in Lancaster and West Chester, Pennsylvania.  ICF is a leading treatment center for children who suffer from the lasting effects of early trauma, and from serious and destructive breaks in the bonding and attachment process between child and parent. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the international organization ATTACh (Association for the Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children) as chairperson of their professional training committee.

 Dr. Eshleman’s work has brought her into therapeutic contact with children and families who have suffered the emotional, psychological and neurologically damaging effects of war and other forms of organized violence. In 1997 she was instrumental in securing over $450,000 in grants from Rotary International, and the Rotary Club of Lancaster, PA for the development of a treatment and professional training center after the Balkan war. From 1997 through 2000 she volunteered more than 8 months at the center, located in Velika Gorica, Croatia

Her publications include, Healing Emotional Trauma: Treating the Wounded Child, 2nd ed. (2000), a community-based response program for children who have been affected by war and organized violence; an instructional video, Attachment Disorder: Solving the Puzzle (2001), which received a national Telly award in the science and medicine division. Her book, Becoming a Family: Promoting Healthy Attachments with Your Adopted Child (Taylor Publishing Company) was published in December of 2003 to excellent reviews.

In the spring of 1999 Attorney General Janet Reno and Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala appointed Dr. Eshleman to the Safe from the Start task force in Washington, D.C. to collaborate on issues of children exposed to violence.  Healing Emotional Trauma: Treating the Wounded Child, originally developed for Balkan war trauma victims, has recently been translated into Russian for use with the children of Beslan, Russia who survived the terrorist takeover of their school. Lark maintains a busy psychotherapy practice while promoting violence prevention through public forums and training programs for parents and professionals.

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Dr. Ronald S. Federici, ABPN, FACAAP

Dr. Ronald S. Federici

Dr. Ronald S. Federici, ABPN, FACAAP, is the Clinic Director/Supervisor of Neuropsychological & Family Therapy Associates.  He is both a developmental neuropsychologist (specializing in pediatrics/adolescents) and a psychopharmacologist in addition to being the father of seven children adopted internationally.

Dr. Ronald Federici is regarded as the country's expert in the neuropsychological evaluation and treatment of children having multi-sensory neurodevelopmental impairments, particularly children who have been adopted, both domestically and internationally. Dr. Federici is called upon to evaluate and treat the most complex cases (typically "second opinion and end of the road cases") and has an international following.

Additionally, Dr. Federici lectures and trains nationally and internationally, and is an accomplished author of his principle book entitled "Help for the Hopeless Child: A Guide for Families (With Special Discussion for Assessing and Treating the Post-Institutionalized Child), Second Edition", in addition to multiple professional publications. Dr. Federici's work with severely damaged children was featured on NBC-Dateline in June, 2003. Titled, "Saving Dane, Saving a Family", it won an award for journalism.  He has also appeared on numerous shows including Nightline, Turning Point, 20/20, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Dr. Federici has worked abroad in institutional settings for over a decade, and leads a team of international adoption medicine experts with goals in comprehensive evaluation and de-institutionalization programs. Dr. Federici provides training, educational work shops and supervision in the areas of severe developmental disorders and raising the post-institutionalized child.  He has appeared on multiple television shows, and has been the focus of numerous publications regarding complex children with severe developmental and emotional disorders.  Dr. Federici’s honors include:

  • Diplomate-American Board of Professional Neuropsychology
  • Diplomate-American Board of Medical Psychotherapists
  • Diplomate-Fellow in Advanced Psychopharmacology
  • Diplomate-American Board of Disability Analysts (ABDA)
  • Fellow-American College of Professional Neuropsychology
  • Diplomate - American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
  • President/CEO, Care for Children International, Inc.

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  • Michelle M. Hughes,
    J.D.

    Michelle M. Hughes, J.D.

    Michelle M. Hughes, J.D. is a diversity consultant and co-founder of Bridge Communications. Inc., which specializes in diversity training with an emphasis on transracial, international and general adoption education, as well as biracial identity.  Michelle is also an attorney who focuses primarily on working with child welfare system, private agency, independent, co-parent and related adoptions.

    Michelle Hughes is part of a multiracial family, and has been involved with multiracial family organizations for over 15 years. She is a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys; a board member of the Association of Multiethnic Americans; Co-chair of the Confidentiality Intermediate advisory committee for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services; a member of the Chicago Bar Association Adoption Committee; and former Vice Chair of Cook County Bar Association Adoption Committee.

    Since 1991, Michelle has been organizing and conducting seminars on transracial adoption. She established her own law firm, the Law Offices of Michelle M. Hughes in 1993, where her legal practice focuses primarily on adoption. In 1994, she co-founded Bridge Communications, Inc.  Bridge Communications was featured in the film "Outside looking In: Transracial Adoption in America" as well as magazine articles in Adoption Today and Chicago Magazine. Michele Hughes has been quoted regularly in the newspapers and magazines and has been featured on various radio and TV programs concerning issues of transracial adoption including World News Tonight and the Steve Cain radio show.  She is a regular speaker for many adoption educational conferences, and has testified before the Illinois legislature on multiracial identity and adoption legislation.

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    Tatyana Komarova

    Tatyana Komarova

    Tatyana Komarova is a teacher with music, theater and early child development degrees. A native Russian speaker, she has been teaching adoptive parents Russian language and culture for almost 6 years. Tatyana also teaches English to older Russian children to help them excel in school by learning English faster. Tatyana is in the process of establishing the “International Talent Academy”, a non-profit organization whose mission will be teaching children while they are young in order to discover their talents and help them reach their potential.

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    Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A.

    Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A.

    As a music, movement and drama teacher for 25 years, Carol Stock Kranowitz observed many out-of-sync preschoolers. To help them become more competent in their work and play, she began to study sensory integration ("SI") theory. She learned to help identify their needs and to steer them into early intervention. In her workshops and writings, she explains to parents, educators, and other early childhood professionals how sensory processing issues play out -- and provides practical and enjoyable techniques for addressing sensory issues at home and school.

    Carol is the Editor-in-Chief of S.I. Focus, the international magazine focusing on sensory integration/sensory processing. This quarterly includes articles about therapy techniques, clinical breakthroughs, success stories, and in-depth interviews. (For more information, see www.SIfocus.com)

    In addition to The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder, revised (Perigee, 2005) and Preschool Sensory Scan for Educators (Preschool SENSE, 2005), Carol is the author of its sequel, The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun: Activities for Kids with Sensory Integration Dysfunction (Perigee, 2003). A book for 8-12 year-olds is The Goodenoughs Get in Sync: A Story for Kids about the Tough Day When Filibuster Grabbed Darwin's Rabbit's Foot and the Whole Family Ended Up in the Doghouse (Sensory Resources, 2004). Another book is 101 Activities for Kids in Tight Spaces (St. Martin's Press, 1995). She is the co-author of Hear, See, Play! Music Discovery Activities for Preschoolers (Peg Hoenack's MusicWorks, 1989) and of The Balzer-Martin Preschool Screening Program Manual (St. Columba's, 1992). She has also written many articles on sensory processing, child development, and preschool curricula for magazines such as Parenting, Sesame Street Magazine, Child Care Information Exchange, and Family Circle, and for Internet websites, including www.child.com and www.SPDnetwork.org

    A graduate of Barnard College, Carol has an M.A. in Education & Human Development from The George Washington University. She is on the Professional Advisory Boards of Developmental Delay Resources (DDR), National Autism Association (NAA), S.I. Challenge, and Nonverbal Learning Disorders Association (NLDA). She lives in Bethesda, Maryland, and has two wonderful sons and daughters-in-law and four enchanting grandchildren.

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    John H. Maclean

    John Maclean is the author of The Russian Adoption Handbook -- How to Adopt a Child from Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan and The Chinese Adoption Handbook -- How to adopt a child from China and Korea.  An adoptive parent, he and his wife Brigitte have adopted twice from Russia.

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    Todd Ochs, MD

    Todd Ochs, MD

    Dr. Todd Ochs is an adoption pediatrician and an adoptive father with five daughters - including a 24 year old biological daughter in graduate school and four special needs daughters adopted from China ages 11, 9, 7, and 4 years old.

    A founding member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Adoption and Foster Care, Dr. Ochs has been an adoption pediatrician for nine years and also practices as a general pediatrician.  Dr. Ochs is an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and a member of Chicago’s Children's Memorial Hospital Community Physicians Association.   Dr. Ochs sees internationally and domestically adopted children in his office, and also sees foster children for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for their initial comprehensive evaluations. He follows hundreds of adopted and foster children longitudinally as their pediatrician and consults with other pediatricians on a variety of adoption issues including positive TB skin tests as well as behavioral and case management problems. Dr. Ochs developed a directory of medical resources for adoptive parents in China, and members of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Adoption and Foster Care are currently working on Russian and Ukrainian directories.

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    Inna Pecar

    Inna Pecar

     

    Mrs. Inna Pecar is a licensed clinical social worker and founder & director of KidsFirst Adoption Services in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has been placing children from Russia and Kazakhstan since 1999, and China and Guatemala since 2005. 

    Mrs. Pecar immigrated to the United States from Ukraine, one of the former Soviet republics, in 1991.  She attained a Masters in Education in Ukraine and a Masters of Social Work from Indiana University.  She previously provided counseling to individuals, children, couples, and families for Indiana Health Group in Indianapolis, Indiana and particularly enjoyed working with children of all ages. In 1999, Mrs. Pecar followed her heart into international adoption and established KidsFirst Adoption Agency,  placing the children of Russia, Kazakhstan, China & Guatemala. Her devotion to the children is evident to all of the families who work with KidsFirst, and she works tirelessly to assure the success of their adoptions. She guides adoptive families through an intensive and complete referral review process, resulting in great success with their placements without the families feeling like they have to go through the difficult process of reviewing referrals on their own. She excels at creating successful matches of adoptive families and children.

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    Dr. Thomas Phelan

    Dr. Thomas Phelan

     

    Dr. Thomas Phelan is an internationally renowned expert and lecturer on parenting and Attention Deficit Disorder. A registered PhD clinical psychologist, he appears frequently on radio and television and has been engaged in private practice since 1972.

    Dr. Phelan received his doctorate from Loyola University in Chicago in 1970. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Illinois Psychological Association. The father of an ADD child, he has also served on the boards of directors for ADDA and CHADD, two national organizations for parents of children with ADD.

    Dr. Phelan and his wife of 35 years raised two children and experienced first-hand many of the problems he now helps parents tackle. "My goal is to help parents avoid some of the turmoil we experienced, and which I hear about from other parents every day," comments Phelan. "With some basic understanding of what makes children and teenagers tick - and a ton of patience - parenthood can provide some of life's greatest satisfactions."

    Learn more about “1-2-3 Magic” and Dr. Phelan by visiting  ParentMagic.com.

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    Ellen Singer

    Ellen Singer is a clinical social worker who is currently a staff adoption program specialist with the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) Ms. Singer leads the Adoptive Parent Connection groups, which provide education and support for adoptive parents.  Her clinical services include counseling for prospective parents, adoptive parents and adult adopted persons. Ms. Singer also provides training in adoption issues to a wide variety of audiences, including parents, community groups, schools, and professionals in the adoption field.  She is a key writer of C.A.S.E. materials, and contributes articles to numerous parent and professional magazines.

    Ms. Singer holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois. She has worked in a number of settings including mental health, family service, and adoption agencies, in addition to her own private practice. Her extensive clinical experience includes marital and family therapy, with a focus on child/adolescent difficulties.  For the past 16 years, her area of specialization has been on infertility, adoption, and concerns related to other alternative family building methods. Ms. Singer serves as the Adoption Resource of the Professional Advisory Group for the Mid Atlantic Region of RESOLVE.

    Ms. Singer and her husband are parents to two children by adoption and by birth.

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    Michelle Schultze

    Michelle Schultze

    Michelle and her husband, Lee Jay, have been married for almost 16 years and are the adoptive parents to four beautiful children. Michelle enjoys public speaking and was an educator for 16 years. She received her college degree in music education with a voice principle.  As elementary music teacher for 16 years, she had the opportunity to teach thousands of children, but was then called to leave this vocation that she loved to found C.H.O.S.E.N. Adoption and Foster Ministry, Inc.  C.H.O.S.E.N.'s purpose is to encourage and enable believers to answer God's repeated call to care for the orphans.

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    Margaret Schwartz

    MargaretLSchwartz

    Margaret Schwartz was born and raised in Buffalo , New York . She moved to the Washington , D.C. , area after completing college and has spent the past 25 years building a thriving sales and marketing career.

    Today, Margaret is a successful marketing consultant and single mother of two adopted children. Through her book, The Pumpkin Patch: A Single Woman's International Adoption Journey , she talks about how her life was transformed after traveling to Ukraine to adopt two young children. She has enhanced her life through a renewed spiritual faith with the belief that one can accomplish anything in life. She has become an adoption advocate and is working with several charities to improve the well-being of orphaned and abandoned children in Ukraine . Margaret is an exceptional public speaker who regularly addresses groups of all sizes.

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    Mary Beth Wells

    Mary Beth Wells & Sophia

    Mary Beth Wells is an adoptive mom of  two little girls, Sophia and Gabriella, from Guatemala.  Also, she had relinquished a child for adoption when she was a very young birth mother. Inspired by her path to adoption, she has started a baby doll company,  The Precious Baby Doll Company, which features dolls from various countries.

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