Navigating Disability and Rare Medical Conditions as Intercountry Adoptees : Webinar

Image by Maddy Ullman with Wes Liu

Intercountry adoption numbers have plummeted significantly around the world yet there remain numbers of adoptees being sent overseas via intercountry adoption who live with a disability or “special needs”. What do our adult intercountry adoptees have to say about their experiences and what can we learn to make it better for those who share this journey?

ICAV will be hosting a live panel webinar with lived experience of intercountry adoptees who navigate disability and rare medical conditions. The webinar aims to educate adoption professionals, those who assess prospective families and those who support current adoptive families in post adoption spaces. Adoptive families and adoptees are also welcome as we recognise there are not a lot of resources available, specifically for those living the intersection of disability and intercountry adoption.

Join us on Nov 22 (USA/Canada) / Nov 23 (Australia). For start times and date, see timezones below in image (note the date is in dd/mm format) and duration of webinar will be 1.5 hours.

To RSVP for this webinar I will be asking you to either donate $10 per attendee or chat to me if you wish to register your organisation for attendance. An invoice can be provided if needed. Fee of $10 for professionals, ensures adoptee panelists are compensated for their time and wealth of knowledge.

If you are an adoptee with disability, you can attend at no cost.

During the RSVP process, we will be asking you to share the questions you’d like us to consider.

Our webinar panelists are:

Dr. Farnad J. Darnell

Farnad is adopted from Iran to America and was born impacted by a syndrome known as amniotic band constriction. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology, with an emphasis on social psychology, from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI in 2007. His areas of specialization include adoption identity, contemporary and classical social theories, sex and gender, and marriage and family studies. He has taught at Eastern Michigan University, the University of Maryland, and Kent State University. Some of his research opportunities include the study of prosocial behavior and altruism, intercountry adoption identity formation, and the psychology of addiction. He has co-authored academic journal articles on addiction behaviors and on adoption identity.

He currently works at a health clinic serving people living with HIV as a quality improvement
analyst, but continues to work in adoption research focusing on systemic issues of adoption, the practice of adoption, and the pursuit of ending illegal adoption practices around the world. See his story which he shared previously at ICAV.

Wes Liu

Wes Liu is a 20 year old Chinese transracial adoptee living with IA, also known as imperforate anus (which is any form of malformation of the anal/rectum area). He was adopted at the age of 7 years, and grew up in the Dallas Texas. As a male Chinese transracial adoptee with a disability, Wes become aware of the unique challenges that come with such intersections and seeks to highlight the experience of navigating disability while being a transracial/transnational adoptee. In the mean time, Wes is on his own journey of learning and fully embracing what it means to be human through a different set of lenses.

Wes has shared before at ICAV on the impacts of racism during COVID.

Mallika Macleod

Mallika carries 35 years of lived experience of disability after a childhood accident that left her an incomplete paraplegic and wheelchair user. She is currently the Director of Client Services at a disability support service, DADAA.  Her professional experience includes over 20 years in community development, systemic & individual advocacy; also arts administration and multiple state and national boards, including the Western Australian Disability Services Commission (Board & Deputy Chair); Physical Disability Australia (State Rep); Arts Access Australia (Board & Chair), People with Disabilities WA (Treasurer), DADAA (Board), Health Consumers’ Council (current Chair), and our current ICAV WA Representative.

Adopted from Sri Lanka, living in Perth Australia since 5 months old, Mallika is the eldest of 4 intercountry adoptees in her family; her adored adopted brother took his life during the COVID pandemic in 2020. Mallika champions the war cry of people with disability “nothing about us without us”. Investment in lived experience voice is critical for authentic change. Adoptees must be heard above and before any adoptive or biological parents. Adoptees lives are central; and the legal and illegal sales of babies and children masquerading as adoptions have to be heavily scrutinised to safeguard the rights of the child.

Emma Pham

Emma was born in Vietnam during the war and was 4 years old when she lost her sight during her time in the orphanage. A nun organised to have Emma airlifted to Australia at 4.5 years of age for medical attention to see if they could assist with her vision impairment. She arrived in Australia and lived under the nun’s guardianship for many years but was bounced from foster home to home and spent her childhood being raised in religious boarding schools for the blind. Finally at the age of 22 years old, Emma was adopted into her Australian family and she lives independently and loves to travel back to her homeland, which she misses daily.

Emma has shared before at ICAV through her contributions to our two Australian books, The Colour of Difference (2001) and The Colour of Time (2017), a followup 15+ years later on how we journey over time as intercountry adoptees.

Daniel N Price

Daniel is currently 29 years old and adopted from Hangzhou China at 3 years of age. Daniel has a rare disease called Tuberous Sclerosis or TSC. He has been through the K-12 Special Education system with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and lives in the Tacoma Washington, USA area. Daniel works in aviation and travels the world, supporting and advocating in the rare disease area along with the LGBTQ+ community.

Daniel lives a moderate high functioning self independent life but with an invisible disability that people may need to see along with other emotional and stressful day to day issues that may occur.

Daniel has another sibling adopted from China and two others from South Korea – all three do not have any disabilities or rare diseases.

Maddy Ullman

Adopted from Hong Kong to America, Maddy is a writer, photographer, and storyteller based in Dallas TX. Her experience as a Chinese adoptee with cerebral palsy propels her storytelling working in Hollywood. With her deep love of story and collaborative spirit, Maddy is dedicated to raising authentic portrayal of disabilities in Hollywood.

Maddy has kindly provided the artwork photography for this page. You can learn more about Maddy at her website or at Insta @Madylinming

We look forward to having you join us for our upcoming webinar. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Nederlands (Formeel)