Thursday October 13, 2016
8:30 AM to 5:00 PM EDT

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Elm Room A
University of Maryland
SMC Campus Center

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Diana DeMallie
International Social Service - USA Branch


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International Social Service's 

Fall Conference:

The Ties That Bind

Co-hosted by the University of Maryland School of Social Work

International Social Service USA Branch Inc.'s 6th Annual Conference, The Ties That Bind: Exploring the Causes and Consequences of Children Separated From Their Families Across International Borders, will focus on the legal and human rights of children separated from their biological families across international borders. From long-standing methods including international adoption and international parental abduction, to emerging issues like international surrogacy and the movement of unaccompanied minors, the impact of denying children access to their biological families will be examined within the context of an increasingly global world. More importantly, the conference will concentrate on how legal, judicial and social service stakeholders can provide appropriate resources and share best practices to protect the safety, permanency and well-being of children. 

The broader question underlying this conference is: how do we ensure that all discussions about family rights focus primarily on the rights of children? This conference will begin with the premise that the child’s rights are paramount. 
The 6th Annual Conference will consist of four panels and will bring together experts in the fields of law, child protection, and human rights, as well as family members who have been successfully reunited.

Keynote: 9:30-10:15AM

Gregory Adams, Co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network's (MFAN) Country Ownership Working Group
Gregory Adams is an expert in U.S. global development policy and practice. He serves as co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network's (MFAN) Country Ownership Working Group, and as co-chair of the Truman Project Democracy & Development Experts Group. He has spent the last decade working inside and outside government to improve how the United States works to end poverty and protect human rights for the poorest people around the world, including children and their families. That work has included strengthening U.S. support for humanitarian preparedness and response, ending preventable disease, and expanding and improving basic education. Most recently, Adams directed Oxfam’s advocacy work on aid effectiveness and reform of aid and development policy, both in the United States and in other donor capitals. In this role he worked to generate momentum for foreign aid and development policy reforms that are driven by a long-term commitment to effectively reduce poverty and help all people achieve their basic human rights.


1. Taken: International Parental Abduction 10:15-11:30AM

Every day in America, approximately 6 children are abducted or retained by one of their parents in violation of the other parent’s and the child’s rights. The problem becomes compounded when the child is taken to a foreign country. Despite international treaties and domestic laws, many abducted or retained children are never returned to their left behind parent.  The consequences for these children are devastating and lifelong. The panel will examine the emotional cost paid by abducted children and what more needs to be done to protect the child’s right to have access to both parents when it is in her best interest.

  • Édeanna Barbirou, Executive Director, Return US Home, Inc.
  • Scott Berne, Parental Abduction Survivor, Child Advocate, and Board Member of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)
  • Melissa Kucinski, Attorney, MK Family Law
  • Moderator: Stephen Cullen, Principal, Miles & Stockbridge P.C.

2. Broken Bonds: The Re-homing of Adopted Children 11:45AM - 1:00PM

Disrupted adoptions are not uncommon. The lack of post-adoption support for families is often at the center of these breakdowns in family bonds. However, adoptive parents are increasingly engaging in the practice of rehoming their adopted child without utilizing safeguards or best practices in placing children in alternative care. The impact on the child is enormous, and in some cases deadly. This panel will examine the practice of rehoming from the perspective of protecting the child’s best interest and what measures need to be taken to prevent the practice and defend the rights of children

  • Erin Bradley, Executive Director, Children's League of Massachusetts
  • Kate Cleary, Executive Director, Consortium for Children
  • Maureen Flatley, Government Relations Consultant Specializing in Government Reform and Oversight of Adoption and Child Welfare
  • Moderator: Debra Linsenmeyer, Educational Director, Title IV-E Program, University of Maryland School of Social Work

3. Children Alone: Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors 2:00-3:15PM

Over the past five years, tens of thousands of unaccompanied children have fled their homes and moved to a foreign country because of violence, war, natural disasters, and poverty. There are more people living outside of their birth countries, and the number of vulnerable children traveling alone is also on the rise. This panel will examine the toll that these children must pay to come to America in search of their family, or simply a safer life. The dialogue about immigration reform and domestic policies surrounding undocumented immigrant children will refocus on what is in the child’s best interest, as well as what must be done to protect the child either here in the U.S., or upon their return to their home country.

  • Frida Espinosa Cárdenas, Transnational Family Support Coordinator, the Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI)
  • Kevin Ipiña, Youth Peer Mentor, Compas de Viaje 
  • Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, Deputy Assistant Director for Custody Management, Custody Programs Division, Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Moderator: Kimberly Haynes, Director for Children Services, Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service (LIRS)

4. Biology and Family: Regulating Reproductive Technologies and Protecting the Rights of the Children 3:30-4:45PM

Advances in reproductive technology, including sperm and egg donation, embryo adoption and surrogacy, have changed the landscape of who can have children quite dramatically. Infertile couples, gay and lesbian couples, and individuals without partners can now become parents without going through the process of adoption. While these technological advances have benefitted the prospective parent(s), less attention has been paid to the outcome of these medical advances: the child. This panel will examine broad questions surrounding the rights of the child in these cases. Experts will also examine what regulations need to be in place to promote ethical practice in reproductive technologies and will explore the larger social context within which the primacy of a biological definition of family exists.

  • Katy Doran, Donor-Conceived Advocate; Senior Fellow, The Coalition Against Reproductive Trafficking
  • Travis Rieder, PhD, Assistant Director of Education Initiatives & Research Scholar, Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University
  • Elizabeth J. Samuels, Professor of Law, University of Baltimore School of Law
  • Moderator: Felicity Northcott, Director of External Partnerships and International Services, International Social Service-USA

For more details, visit our website. View the full conference agenda.

We cannot issue refunds after October 6th.

Continuing Education Units 

To earn 6 Category 1 continuing education units, you must first purchase a ticket for our conference and then sign up here: Sign up to receive CEU credits through the Office of Continuing Professional Education

The University of Maryland School of Social Work’s Office of Continuing Professional Education is authorized by the Board of Social Work Examiners in Maryland to sponsor social work continuing education programs and maintains full responsibility for this program. This training qualifies for six Category I continuing education units.

Thanks to our Conference Sponsors!



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