Parenting Adopted Children with Vulnerable Beginnings

Saturday, September 22, 2018
9:00 - 11:30AM
Location: The Cradle, 2049 Ridge Ave, Evanston, IL, 60201
Fees: $20 per person per workshop, $10 for second family member; $5 per child for babysitting; non-refundable. Pre-registration and pre-payment are required. Deadline for babysitting reservations: Wednesday September 19, 2018. If utilizing babysitting, please arrive 15 minutes early.

Identifying and Addressing Challenges in Learning, Attention, and Behavior

When children and teens have problems with attention, learning and behavior, all parents wonder, “Are these challenges just a passing phase?  Do I take a Wait and See approach?  Or look for help now… sooner rather than later?”  

For parents who are raising children whose earliest experiences have included risk factors such as prematurity, prenatal substance exposure, separation, abandonment and/or, maternal stress, the “Wait and See Approach” poses additional risks.    

Join Cradle adoption therapist Dori Fujii, LCSW, for an interactive parenting workshop with panelists Dr. Rebecca I. Nelson, Ph.D., Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychologist; Ellen Zemel, LCSW, CAS, adoptive parent/school social worker; and Mandy Jones, LCSW, JD, adoption therapist. Panelists will help you:

  • Become familiar with the concept of executive functioning in order to better understand your child’s needs and behavior
  • Understand why assessment and diagnosis is important in addressing your child’s needs
  • Become an advocate for your child 
  • Identify parenting strategies for making life better one day at a time
  • Understand the importance of support and self-care

This workshop is for pre-adoptive families and families already parenting children from infancy through 8th grade.

Meet Our Panelists:

Dr. Rebecca Nelson, Ph.D. Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychologist

Dr. Nelson is a licensed clinical child and adolescent psychologist in the Department of Pediatrics of NorthShore University HealthSystem, Division of Neonatology. She assesses infants and children who are neurodevelopmentally at-risk, including those born premature or with pre/perinatal vulnerabilities, adopted internationally or domestically, and children with atypical attention, learning, language, socialization, or delays in development. Dr. Nelson has presented at local and national psychological association and adoption conferences, and has appeared across various media on behalf of children’s mental health and development: Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, WGN News, Make It Better, Chicago Health, Fox News, CBS Radio, American Medical News, and Adoptive Families Magazine. Dr. Nelson has worked with adoptive families for over 20 years partnering with The Cradle, Adoption Learning Partners, Adoption Center of Illinois at The Family Resource Center, Project Esther with JCFS, Theraplay, and others in the adoption collective to support and empower families.


Ellen Zemel, LCSW, CAS

Ellen was a school social worker for 34 years, the last 24 at New Trier High School. She ran groups, directed plays and presented on topics intended to help students, parents, faculty and professionals better understand an individual's special needs and to focus on their many abilities instead of their disabilities. She also ran a group for students who were adopted. She can converse in sign language and is now in private practice specializing in mindfulness practices and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) for stress and anxiety reduction. In thinking about her career and training, Ellen claims that her real education in the field of adoption and special needs came during her personal experience as an adoptive parent navigating school systems from both the child and professional point of view.

Mandy Jones, LCSW, JD, Certified Theraplay® Practitioner and Trainer, Adoption Therapist

Mandy has worked almost exclusively with adoptive and foster families since she began her career. A certified Theraplay® therapist, she takes a particular interest in helping families with young children form strong attachments and work through sensory concerns. Mandy is also experienced in helping adopted individuals with identity, loss, and anxiety concerns throughout their lifespan. Through her work as a trainer, she educates parents and professionals about attachment and parenting the adopted child. She regularly presents at both local and national conferences. Mandy has also traveled with families who have adopted internationally as they embarked on homeland journeys. 

Mandy earned her BA in Political Science and her BS in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. She earned her Master of Clinical Social Work and Juris Doctorate from Michigan State University.

Meet Our Moderator:

Dori Fujii, LCSW, Adoption Therapist

Dori Fujii is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has worked in the field of public and private child welfare and adoption since receiving her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana. She has consulted with DCFS in their pre- and post-adoptive services programs and since 1997 and has worked at The Cradle with families adopting domestically and internationally.  

Dori has specialized training in attachment focused, trauma-informed treatment modalities and is a registered Circle of Security® Parent Educator and registered TBRI® Practitioner. She has particular interest in helping parents find effective ways of understanding, communicating and connecting with their children and teens. Her approach is practical and relationship oriented. She stresses the importance of being aware of how past experiences play a role in shaping the thoughts, feelings and actions of all members of the adoption circle.


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