SUNDAY, Jan 9TH NOON - 1:30 PST

TOPIC: rebuilding trust after betrayal 

Jana is a licensed professional counselor and consultant specializing in fertility and family building. Her best-selling book, Three Makes Baby-How to Parent Your Donor-Conceived Child, introduced the “five common fears” that parents face as they contemplate having a non-biological child. Thousands of readers around the world have trusted the wisdom and guidance because she knows firsthand what it’s like to be in a non-biological family, as an adoptee and adoptive mom.

She also faced infertility and has helped thousands of people face the challenges of infertility as well as those preparing to grow their family in non-traditional ways. Working as an independent, Rupnow has fostered relationships with endocrinologists across the United States. Rupnow’s work, including the Three Makes Baby podcast, encourages communication between donor-conceived parents and donor-conceived adults, to raise awareness of the inherent challenges donor-conceived families may face across the lifespan. Jana is licensed in the state of Texas.

SUNDAY, dec 5TH NOON - 1:30 PST

TOPIC: BALANCING FAMILY, SECRETS, STRESS, GRIEF, AND THE HOLIDAYS

Anxiety, depression, grief, and childhood trauma are my specialties. This work coincides well when working with adults who are processing the unique and often overwhelming misattributed parentage experience. Exploring a client’s unique story is a huge privilege and I take the work I do very seriously. I know that it takes a lot of guts to enter a therapy relationship. Trusting someone new when you’ve discovered that your parental relationship was not what you had believed can add an extra layer of complexity. As a therapist, I have an affinity for working with people experiencing anxiety or undue stress brought on by life transitions (career, relationships, grief). Personally, and professionally, I’m part of the LGBTQ+ and adoptee communities.

Here’s Kate’s presentation plus some suggested resources. 

SUNDAY, NOV 7TH NOON - 1:30 PST

TOPIC: Finding an Identity After an MPE

Jodi’s passion for the NPE population was born from her own 2016 DNA discovery, leading her to create the Sex, Lies & The Truth podcast, the Finding Family blog on Psychology Today and pioneering the only clinical training for mental health professionals she coined, Parental Identity Discovery™. Jodi uses her expertise to guide people and their families through the unique and challenging process of discovering surprise DNA revelations and the necessary skills to cope with them.

Jodi received a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University in San Rafael and obtained licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist in 2004. She is currently a doctoral student at Touro University where she expects to receive a PsyD in Human and Organizational Psychology in 2022. She is recognized for an empathic and direct style in connecting with clients and is skilled at dealing with difficult issues in trauma and family dynamics. Trained by EMDR founder Francine Shapiro, she is an expert in addressing grief, trauma, feelings of belonging, identity confusion, rejection, worth and self-esteem.

Sunday, OCT 3rd noon - 1:30 PST

TOPIC: Rejection in MPEs

Dr. Gina Daniel is a licensed clinical social worker. She has worked in public education as a school social worker for over twenty years and also works in her private practice in central Pennsylvania primarily focused on individual and family work. Gina discovered her NPE status in June 2018 and subsequently completed her doctoral dissertation with a focus on unexpected paternity discoveries through direct-to-consumer DNA ancestry testing.

Sunday, Sept 12 noon - 1:30 PST

TOPIC: Grief, Loss & the MPE Mask

We will explore the grief and loss connected with the misattributed parentage experience. We’ll be working through creative imagery to explore thoughts and feelings, but don’t worry: no artistic skill is required. A willingness to engage, trust the process, and a few simple materials are all that’s needed. Please have basic drawing supplies (pencils, paper, markers) and collage materials (at least ten random magazine images, a glue stick, and scissors) on hand. Additionally, please print out one of the masks attached. 

 

Please note: Art-making can stir deep emotions and memories. While this workshop may be therapeutic, it is distinctly not therapy. If you have any questions about the difference, please don’t hesitate to ask. Additionally, it is expected that participants will respect one another’s privacy by keeping all artwork and conversations confidential to our meeting space.

Stephanie is an art therapist and licensed mental health counselor in private practice on the Kitsap Peninsula. She works with clients of all ages, helping them process trauma, grief and loss, and life transitions. She loves working with groups and incorporating eco-art, writing and mindfulness techniques.

SUNDAY, JULY 11 NOON - 1:30 PST

TOPIC: Identity and MPEs.

She’s going to lead us through some experiential exercises to foster identity understanding and formation.

Jodi’s passion for the NPE population was born from her own 2016 DNA discovery, leading her to create the Sex, Lies & The Truth podcast, the Finding Family blog on Psychology Today and pioneering the only clinical training for mental health professionals she coined, Parental Identity Discovery™. Jodi uses her expertise to guide people and their families through the unique and challenging process of discovering surprise DNA revelations and the necessary skills to cope with them.

Jodi received a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University in San Rafael and obtained licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist in 2004. She is currently a doctoral student at Touro University where she expects to receive a PsyD in Human and Organizational Psychology in 2022. She is recognized for an empathic and direct style in connecting with clients and is skilled at dealing with difficult issues in trauma and family dynamics. Trained by EMDR founder Francine Shapiro, she is an expert in addressing grief, trauma, feelings of belonging, identity confusion, rejection, worth and self-esteem.

Sunday, June 6 noon - 1:30 PST

TOPIC: A Look at Discomfort Surrounding MPEs

Eve had an MPE in 2018, and has dedicated herself to spreading the word about this global phenomenon ever since. As a licensed therapist, Eve invites people from all aspects of the misattributed parentage experience to heal through psychotherapy in her private practice. She launched her DNA-discovery podcast, “Everything’s Relative with Eve Sturges” in 2019 and is proud to be airing its third season. She lives in LA with her family, including a dog named Johnny Cash. 

Sunday, May 2 noon - 1:30 PST

TOPIC: A Look at Loss & Grief in MPEs

Cotey has a soft spot for working with MPE clients as they navigate their surprise DNA discoveries, late discovery adoptions and donor-conceived experiences. This passion to help comes from discovering that Cotey has an MPE myself. Cotey understands the emotions that ensue from an experience such as making an unexpected finding. He focuses on the importance of identity as well as processing heavy emotions and forming meaning.

Sunday, april 11 noon - 1:30 PST

TOPIC: The Importance of Finding your Tribe & Feeling Supported

You’ve made your way to RTK but may not even realize what a critical step you’ve taken. Finding others who understand you without] endless explanation, people with lots of new information & experience to share, a community who will help you over the many hurdles yet in store.

Leslie is a seasoned and well-respected therapist in the adoption community who works with individuals, families, and couples and runs several groups. In addition to her general practice, she specializes in working with individuals and families conceived through adoption and third-party reproduction. Leslie is a nationally known trainer who travels across the country training therapists, agencies and child welfare workers about psychological issues inherent in adoption and third-party reproduction.

Tips For Creating An MPE Community

  • Studies prove having a reliable community to turn to in highly stressful times, will improve your emotional and physical well-being, both of which, suffer in isolation.
  • Find on-line or face-to-face groups of people dealing with similar issues.
  • Look for additional resources by exploring the internet about the topic which is bringing you stress.
  • Bibliotherapy—my term for reading everything you can, on a particular subject.
  • Look for organizations that provide learning and communal opportunities amongst their membership.
  • Volunteer, specifically within the subject area you have encountered. i.e. efforts to change legislation.
  • Be a good listener. It promotes others coming to your support. Those who take up all the air space in various forums and then split, will end up being ignored over time.
  • Be sure to stick to reputable sites and be cautious when setting up face-to-face meetings.

Sunday, march 7 noon - 1:30 PST

TOPIC: Reaching Out to Bio-Family & Coping with the Response

Erika’s background in adoption, and new work with donor-conceived, combined with her comprehensive training in trauma and grief over the past 14 years, allows her to easily connect with individuals struggling with aspects related to their genetic identity.

Tips

    • This is hard. What is your support plan? Family/Friends? This group? Counselor? All of the above would be good and I really can’t emphasize enough how helpful seeking a competent counselor can be when processing all of the complex emotions that go with this.
    • Plan and be prepared to the best that you can. Know why you are doing this and what information you want. Go in with realistic expectations.
    • Find a way to have patience during this process, with yourself and others. Practice mindfulness and gratitude each day.
    • This is your journey. Whatever you decide and need to do for you is OK. Your emotional health comes first. Take breaks, put on pause, let somebody know you need a breather in contact, or anything else that is necessary for your mental well-being.

Here is a good resource we refer people to with adoption. It is adoption specific so some of it doesn’t apply to everybody.

Sunday, Feb 7 noon - 1:30 PST

Joni Mantell, MSW, LCSW

Joni understands that finding a family member through adoption search/reunion or DNA discovery is just the beginning of the journey, not the endpoint. The emotional reactions come in layers, and she helps people work through each complex feeling and the question of identity and relationship as we revise your personal narrative to include this new information.

TOPIC: The Ebb & Flow of Loss

Tips

  • A person may experience the variety of emotions in the popular stages of grief in any order and may go back and forth from one stage to another—that’s okay.
  • The grief cycle does not punctuate with ACCEPTANCE…even though we can come to accept what we have lost. Believing grief punctuates with acceptance can lead to guilt or unease for not feeling that.
  • Grief ebbs and flows. Sometimes we feel it and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we feel it a little, and sometimes we are triggered to feel it a lot.
  • Grief is like an onion – it has layers. It is best to accept and submerge yourself in the layer you feel. Honor the layer you are going through. That is the best way to process it and get to the next level.
  • We cannot avoid the layers of what we feel BUT we can learn to manage the grief as it ebbs and flows throughout our lives. Locate your feeling, name it, experience it, and let it flow.
  • Get support for your experience. Meet and talk with other people experiencing similar losses. Support groups have been demonstrated to help enormously with grief – there is shared communication, validation and even humor. If you are suffering or just need someone to talk to, get support. Call RTK’s Resource Hotline 323-TALK-MPE or schedule an appointment with a therapist.