Consultations

Parenting Tune-Ups

Adoption is a lifelong journey, and parents often need a compassionate, knowledgeable thought partner and advisor along the way. Do you have questions related to adoption and your family that you need to discuss in depth? Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the information or advice you’ve gathered? A one-on-one consultation with one of Pact’s team of professionals can help you move forward.

You can talk to a Pact consultant about:

  • Difficulty talking to your child about their adoption
  • Trying to understand the connections between adoption, emotions, and behavior
  • Parenting in the context of adoption—how is it different?
  • Hopes and/or fears related to contacting your child’s first/birth family and/or adoptive family
  • Navigating open adoption relationships, including extended family members
  • How you’re experiencing the intersections of adoption, race, and socioeconomic class
  • Issues of adoption and race coming up in your transracial adoptive family

One- or two-hour consultations are available to adoptive parents across the country. In person or by phone, we are available to help.

Cost: $120/hour or $500 for five-hour consultation package. Pact membership required; join Pact today.

How to get started

After you register (click button above), you’ll fill out forms that tell us who you are and what you are looking for. If you have questions, please contact us at  consult@pactadopt.org or (510) 243-9460.

Transracial Adoption Preparation and Support

Pact is nationally known for its preparation program for white adopters considering an adoption across race, whether domestically or internationally. For those adopting internationally, our program fulfills the Hague education requirements. This program also serves parents who have already adopted children of a different race and realize they need ongoing support to meet their children’s needs.

Pact’s program for prospective and current transracial adoptive parents includes four hours of in-depth, personalized consultations with Pact staff. Pact believes that for transracial adoption to work, parents must examine their own racial identities and biases and commit to their child’s need to build a positive racial identity of their own. Pact doesn’t subscribe to the “colorblind” or “love is enough” approach; we know race matters and that parents who are adopting across racial lines must commit to making changes in their own lives in order to support their children. We are here to support you in that process. We can work with you to create a plan for how to examine and challenge your own white privilege and racial biases, become an anti-racist individual/family, bring more diversity into your personal and community circles, nurture a positive racial identity in a child of color, and recognize the racism your child will face.

Please note: Pre-adoptive families planning to adopt across race who wish to be considered as candidates for placement through Pact are required to complete this consultation prior to beginning a placement application.

Cost: $500/family for four hours of personalized consultation with Pact staff, plus reading assignments and self-reflection exercises. Pact membership required; join Pact today.

How to get started

After you register (click button above), you’ll fill out forms that tell us who you are and what you are looking for. If you have questions, please contact us at  consult@pactadopt.org or (510) 243-9460.

Other Consultations

Pact offers specialized consultations for those interested in Placing a Child for Adoption or Adopting a Child.

Are you looking for an adoption-sensitive therapist of color to work with your child or family? Learn more about our Center for Race and Adoption Focused Therapy.

Are you affiliated with an organization or group seeking a customized consultation, presentation, or workshop about adoption, race, and family? Contact education@pactadopt.org to inquire about bringing Pact’s experts to you.

Pact Consultants

All of our consultants are leaders in the field of adoption. They represent a variety of identities and experiences, but all share a deep commitment to Pact’s ethical, anti-racist, honesty-based approach. You will be assigned an available consultant who is a good fit for your needs. If you have a preference for a particular consultant, please let us know.

Beth Hall

Beth Hall

Executive Director

Beth Hall (she/her) is a nationally acclaimed author and speaker who offers consultations to adoptive parents across the country. Working with adoptive families since 1992 and drawing on her own experience as an adoptive parent and non-adopted sibling to her adopted sister, she works with parents to address their fears about their children’s behaviors and learn how they can best approach conversations about adoption and race with their children. Beth is particularly skilled at:

  • Helping adoptive parents to be brave in their approach to parenting, which often results in an amazing closeness between parents and children, even when relationships have been sorely challenged.
  • Educating white parents in how to support their children of color as they make sense of race, combining real-life stories with practical strategies that help parents create solutions and plans for their own families.
  • Avoiding cookie-cutter approaches to building a positive triad relationship. Beth helps parents consider how to open, create and/or maintain relationships with their child’s birth family members without confusing the child or succumbing to fear, while managing complex individuals and relationships.

“Beth, you have helped us realize that it is critically important for our son that we do everything possible to support him in his exploration of his adoption (including birth family) and racial identity. You and the entire staff are incredible — the resources, services, and love you provide to this community are beyond measure. Thank you, truly, for all that you do.”

Katie Stickles-Wynen, MSW

Katie Stickles-Wynen, MSW

Pre-Placement Adoption Specialist

Katie Stickles-Wynen (she/her) is a transracial/international adoptee (adopted from Colombia by white parents) who has worked with the adoption community (specifically with adoptees and pre-adoptive/adoptive parents) since 2006. With adoptive parents, Katie creates space for them to share their joys and fears, while also guiding them to understand the complexities of adoption and what the experience means for their children, now and in the future. One-on-one and in group settings, Katie has worked with adoptees ranging from age 5-55 and draws on her own experience as an adoptee to connect with them and create a safe space to share, connect, and explore feelings around adoption and race. Katie has experience working with both transracial (parents adopting across racial lines) and same-race (parents who share their adopted children’s racial identity) families and has expertise in the following areas:

  • Helping pre-adoptive parents understand that adoption is complex and not easy, and helping them navigate the process.
  • Holding space for all members of the adoption triad to share their experiences and be heard and valued.
  • Working with adoptees of all ages and at all different stages of their adoption journey and, for many, their racial identity journey.
  • Running groups and workshops for youth and adults.

“Katie, thanks so much for your help and support. You are so great at holding space and making everyone feel included and heard. It really helped us grow and think about new ideas and approaches we hadn’t been brave enough to consider before.”

Susan Dusza Guerra Leksander, LMFT

Susan Dusza Guerra Leksander, LMFT

First/Birth Family Specialist & Agency Director

Susan Dusza Guerra Leksander (she/her) is a licensed psychotherapist with a special interest in helping adoptive parents strengthen relationships with their children’s first/birth families. Along with her professional training, Susan brings to this work her own experience as both a transracial adoptee and a first/birth mother. Providing treatment and consultations for the foster/adoption triads since 2009 have taught her that:

  • Adoptive parents can open closed adoptions with first/birth families in a sensitive way that puts their children’s needs first.
  • Youth who have been in foster care almost always seek to reunite with their first/birth families, even when there has been abuse or neglect.
  • Adoptive parents can create physically and emotionally safe opportunities for their children to have relationships with first/birth families who are experiencing substance use, mental health symptoms, and other concerning life circumstances.
  • Adoptive parents can build and maintain relationships with first/birth families in other countries for their children’s benefit.

Susan understands the underlying fear and worry that can accompany big turning points like these. She will hear your concerns, and will still ask you to be brave for the sake of your children’s long-term trust and connection to you.

“Susan, [we] spent yesterday with my son’s birth mother in the country of his birth. It was amazing. Hard. A little bit sad. Fun and uplifting…Although everyone else outside the adoption world insisted he was ‘too young,’ I so see the wisdom in making this relationship more ‘real’ now…Thank you so very much for your encouragement when I was scared.”

Laura Anderson

Laura Anderson

Transracial Adoption Consultant

Laura Anderson (she/her) has been a licensed clinical psychologist working with children, adolescents and families for more than 20 years. She has provided support to foster youth, foster parents, and foster care agencies. Dr. Anderson has worked with adopted youth and their families in various settings; she has spent countless hours in classrooms helping children learn. Dr. Anderson is also an adoptive parent.  She is currently based in Hawaii, and she provides national and international training on a variety of child psychology topics.

Laura is particularly ready to help you:

  • Support children’s racial pride and strong self esteem
  • Recognize your own white privilege and racism and move from guilt or shame to activism
  • Explore parenting strategies relevant to transracial adoption including handling questions from outsiders
  • Create an action plan for expanding your network and connections to your child’s heritage community

“A few years ago, I attended a meeting where a speaker from Pact said, ‘Your children can’t choose where to live—but you can.’ Those words—that sentence—were such a wake-up call. My African American daughter is 7 years old now and we move to Atlanta, Georgia next week. Maine’s resources were not enough. Your clarity was essential. Thank you.”

Beth Wheeler, CSW

Beth Wheeler, CSW

Transracial Adoption Consultant

Beth Wheeler (she/her) is a psychotherapist, educator, networker and advocate who works to promote equity and inclusion with diverse populations in all of her work.  A clinical social worker also trained in bodywork, Beth’s understanding of trauma and resilience inform both her private practice with adults and her diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging work in organizations.  Beth identifies as a white, cis-gender, queer/lesbian, middle-class, able-bodied woman.  She is co-raising her two domestically adopted black sons with her ex-wife.

Beth is particularly able to help with:

  • Supporting children’s racial pride and strong self esteem
  • Exploring intersectionality in the context or race, class, adoption, gender and family identities
  • Working towards becoming an anti-racist parent
  • Creating an action plan for expanding your network and connections to your child’s heritage community