Pact Camp
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Honoring Birth/First Parent Stories

Start time/date: Sept  14, 2013 9:00 AM
End time/date: Sept  14, 2013 1:00 PM
Place: Kaiser Oakland Medical Center
Mosswood Building, RM #1172 & 1173
3505 Broadway, Oakland CA 94611

Resceduled For December 7th, 2014

Honoring Birth/First Parent Stories


Every adopted person has at least two sets of parents (birth/first and adoptive) and maybe several others. How do they make sense of themselves in the context of what is known and what is not? Join Susan Dusza Guerra Leksander in discussing First Families: Relating with Integrity, Creating Opportunities for Y/Our Children as well as Susan Ito, who will be performing her one woman show The Ice Cream Gene.


After the presentations, the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss different adoption scenarios including:  open adoptions where contact is ongoing; adoptions where contact is challenged; adoption search and reunion and birth parents who have engaged in harmful or dangerous behaviors.


Featured Speakers: Susan Dusza Guerra Leksander & Susan Ito


First Families: Relating with Integrity, Creating Opportunities for Y/Our Children
Traditionally, the voice and perspective of first families has been excluded from the discourse on adoption. When thinking about a child's first family, it is important to include not only birthparents, but also siblings, aunts, grandparents, nieces, etc. as relationships with extended family can be especially meaningful to a person who is adopted. Adoptive parents may have conscious or unconscious biases, judgments and feelings about their child's first family. By cultivating more familiarity of what it means to be part of a first family, adoptive parents may be able to address their own blocks, which influence what's possible for their child.

Susan Dusza Guerra Leksander, LMFT, is a licensed psychotherapist who works with first/birthparents, former foster/adopted youth and adult adoptees in agency and private practice settings. Susan placed her daughter for adoption in 2001 in an “open” adoption, which was subsequently closed by the adoptive parents. She is also a transracial adult adoptee who, with the support of her adoptive parents, reunited with her first/birth families as a teenager. Susan is the author of the “Ask a First (Birth) Mother” column published in Pact’s quarterly newsletter and an On Your Feet Foundation Board Member, where she serves as Chair of the Public Education Committee and co-facilitator for their first/birthmother retreat.


The Ice Cream Gene
As a young adult Susan seeks out and finds her birth mother. When she finally meets her, she discovers that some things simply just are genetic—like loving Haagen-Dazs Mocha Chip ice cream! Susan’s one-woman solo performance brings to life her first meeting with her birthmother in a hotel room in 1980.  Will they like each other? Will they like the same ice cream?  Follow their emotional roller coaster in a Midwestern Holiday Inn. With no set, no props, she brings to life that nervous 20-year-old eager to be liked and stunned to learn new information about her first family.


Susan Ito, is a biracial Asian adoptee, teacher, and writer. She has served as the beloved director of Pact Camp from 2004 to 2011 and is now Head of Pact’s Adult Adoptee Advisory Board. Her book Ghost At Heart’s Edge, is one of the few literary anthologies focused on all members of the adoption triad. Her writing has appeared in many publications, including Growing Up Asian American, CHOICE, Making More Waves, Hip Mama and Literary Mama,where she is creative nonfiction editor and former columnist. Susan’s solo performance piece on adoption, The Ice Cream Gene, has been performed nationally. She lives in Oakland with her husband, two daughters and mother.

Pricing Description:

Cost For Non-Members: $42 

 Pact Members receive a 15% discount at check out.

At Door Registration: $42/member  $50/non-member

space is limited

Please choose carefully when registering for Pact events. Pact is not in a position to refund workshop or event registration fees.

Online Registration Closed