Navigating adolescence and our teenage years is tough for us all but adoption often adds another layer of complexity. Our kids hide beneath a mask, they're stuck and we're frustrated. So how do help them get unstuck and free to be who they are without the mask? Debbie Riley - an adoptive mom and mental health and family therapist of 40 years shares invaluable nuggets she's learned about how to take away our kids' pain.
Debbie B. Riley, LCMFT is the CEO and co-founder of the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.), a nonprofit meeting the mental health needs of adoptive, foster and kinship families. A nationally recognized adoption expert and dynamic public speaker, Ms. Riley is a licensed marriage and family therapist with 40 years of professional experience, including extensive health care management, administrative expertise, designing and developing nationally acclaimed adoption-competent programs, direct delivery of specialized counseling services which affords her the broad knowledge and nationally respected expertise needed to promote mental health training, child advocacy and public policy development.
Ms. Riley created a continuum of innovative, culturally responsive evidenced-informed programs to improve the behavioral outcomes of foster and adopted youth and their families which has become a nationally recognized model. Ms. Riley consults with national child welfare agencies on complex child welfare issues and systems of care enhancement. For over a decade she has built and implemented a framework for training an adoption competent mental health workforce nationally and is the founder of TAC (Training for Adoption Competency) Curriculum currently taught in 16 states within the United States. Through a federal cooperative agreement awarded to C.A.S.E. from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Ms. Riley serves as the PI for the National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative (NTI). NTI developed, piloted, and evaluated two state of the art web-based adoption competency curriculum to build the capacity of child welfare professionals and mental health practitioners that serve youth moving toward permanency, through adoption or guardianship. She also has been a contributor on two other federally funded curriculum initiatives, The National Training and Development Curriculum (NTDC) and CORETeen.
Ms. Riley received her Bachelor of Science in Family and Community Development and Master of Science in Marital and Family Therapy from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is co-author of the book, Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens (Riley and Meeks, 2006) and Adoption Specific Therapy, A Guide to Helping Adopted Children and Their Families Thrive (Waterman, Langley, Miranda, and Riley, 2018). She is a contributing author to several book chapter and articles including, The Need for Adoption Competent Mental Health Professionals in Transracial and Intercountry Adoptions, Cultural Guidance for Professionals (Fong and McRoy, 2016); Training for Adoption Competency Curriculum in The Routledge Handbook Of Adoption (Wrober, Helder, and Marr, 2020); Adoption as a Diversity Issue in Professional Preparation: Perceptions of Preservice Education Professionals, Adoptions Quarterly (Taymans, Marotta, Lynch, Riley, Ortiz, Schutt, Mallery, Embich, 2008); Adoption Competent Clinical Practice; Defining Its Meaning and Development, Adoption Quarterly (Atkinson, Freundlich, Gonet, Riley, 2013); and Training for Adoption Competency: Building a Community of Adoption-Competent Clinicians, Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services (Atkinson and Riley, 2017).
Ms. Riley is the recipient of the 2015 HHS Adoption Excellence Award for Individuals and Professionals, the 2005 Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Angels in Adoption Award, the 2005 HHS Adoption Excellence Award for support for adoptive families, the 2003 Maryland Governor’s Council on Child Abuse and Neglect Award for Outstanding Advocate, and the 2003 Voice for Adoption Award for Outstanding Work in Post-Adoption Services.
Here's a link to her book: Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens: Case Studies & Treatment Considerations for Therapists & Parents
The Center for Adoption Support and Education is a national leader in mental health services for the foster care and adoption community.
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