Speaker on Adoption Topics

Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker

I’d love to share my unique “trifecta perspective” with you—as a clinician, adoptee, and adoptive parent!

I’m a licensed psychologist specializing in adoption, trauma, and racial identity development, and I have a literal lifetime of experience with adoption – as an international and transracial adoptee from India, adoptive parent to a child from Ethiopia, and professional who has worked in the adoption community since 2002.


Which topic would be most beneficial for the parents, caregivers, and professionals in your audience? Hover over titles to view descriptions and click to complete a presentation request!

The seven core issues in adoption are often perceived as barriers to an adoptee’s ability to be healthy and successful. But what if we viewed these issues – loss, rejection, guilt/shame, grief, identity, intimacy, and control – on a spectrum that ranges from struggle to strength? Join Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker as she guides you into the extraordinary and often overlooked world of adoptee strengths and superpowers. Learn to support your adoptee's natural tendencies, embrace their unique methods for problem-solving and navigating relationships, and empower them to feel proud of the remarkable ways in which they contribute to the world.
Tailored for white adoptive parents of transracially adopted children of color, this presentation will guide you through the foundational aspects of addressing race and racism in a sensitive and responsive manner. The tools and knowledge necessary to engage in meaningful conversations with your child will be addressed, including basic racial terminology and concepts, developmentally appropriate language for explaining race and racism, the impact of microaggressions, empowering ways to offer support after incidents of racial adversity, strategies for responding to racism, and deepening understanding of the racial and cultural needs of transracial adoptees of color.
How can you turn moments of struggle into moments of connection? Discover how brain development, implicit memories, and the “6 F’s” (Fight, Flight, Freeze, Friend, Fidget, Flop) can influence your adoptive or foster child’s reactions to traditional methods of discipline, and develop compassionate, creative, and effective strategies for limit-setting and consequences that simultaneously enhance healthy attachment patterns in the child-caregiver relationship. Tools to cope with common struggles will be addressed, including separation anxiety, transitions, homework, aggression, lying, stealing, hoarding, argumentativeness, and sleep anxiety.
Race. Gender. Sexual orientation. Neurodiversity. Body Size. Socioeconomic status. Religion. AND SO MUCH MORE! How can we talk about the "tough stuff" with our kids, when so many of us are still trying to figure out how to navigate those conversations with one another? Join Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker as she guides you through the process of engaging your kids in intersectionally inclusive conversations to promote learning, compassion, and connection. From naming intersectional identities and helping your kids identify theirs, to engaging in self-exploration of our biases and preventing communication blocks, we'll talk through the framework of these conversations together so that you can feel more comfortable and confident talking through the "tough stuff" with your kids.
Adoption is a lifelong journey, and adopted individuals face different challenges during each stage of life. The late adolescent and early adult years offer unique opportunities for growth, independence, and identity formation, but also create new obstacles as life experiences expand beyond the shelter of the familiar. Build your knowledge of the common developmental struggles of adoptees in this age group through the lens of the seven core issues in adoption and learn the best ways to offer support and guidance as a parent, caregiver, or professional. Warning signs of more serious issues requiring professional intervention will also be described.
Join Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker for an insightful and enlightening discussion addressing the complex dynamics of parenting transracial adoptees of color. Through the lens of the seven core issues in adoption combined with her groundbreaking model of the racial and cultural identity needs of transracial adoptees, she will unpack and explain the intricacies of navigating transracial parenting. Grow your awareness of the internal and external experiences of adoptees of color as they strive to build a positive racial and cultural identity, enhance your understanding of the role race plays in your own relationships and attachment patterns, and learn language and concepts to deepen your family's dialogue around racial and cultural needs in a manner that promotes safety, empowerment, and connection.
Navigating the complexities of biological relationships can be a sensitive and challenging process for many adoptees. Adoptees may seek out connections with their first family members for a variety of reasons, and as an adoptive parent, it is crucial to provide a safe and supportive space for the exploration of these relationships. Factors such as assessing safety, developing realistic expectations, gauging emotional preparedness, setting boundaries, planning contact, respecting privacy, and building open and honest communication will be discussed.
How can an adoptive parent know when their adopted child is ready to return to their birth country for the first time? In this presentation, we’ll delve into the heart of this decision-making process by engaging in a series of thought-provoking questions and conversations that will help you explore the practical factors associated with birth country travel, gauge your child’s interest level and readiness, and develop tools to navigate a wide range of emotional experiences in order to pave the way to a meaningful and fulfilling journey to your child’s roots.
The behaviors of children who have experienced trauma can be baffling to the adults around them, and it can be easy to forget that these behaviors may feel just as baffling to the children themselves. While all behaviors are rooted in trying to meet a need, those that arise from implicit memories may feel harder to identify and navigate, because they aren’t accompanied by a clear narrative of the traumatic events that occurred. This presentation will offer insight into how implicit memories develop and help to demystify behaviors that are caused by common trauma reactions. The “6 F’s” (Fight, Flight, Freeze, Friend, Fidget, and Flop) will be explained, as well as tools for supporting the de-escalation of behavioral reactions resulting from trauma.
This empowering presentation offers a unique perspective on navigating adoption questions with self-assuredness and poise. Participants will learn five empowering strategies for responding to adoption-related questions and comments in a manner that embraces ownership over the adoptee narrative, harnesses inner strength and resiliency, and promotes the skills necessary to maneuver through uncomfortable interactions with confidence. (This presentation can be adapted for caregivers or youth.)
The histories of youth in foster and adoptive families often involve details that can feel difficult to discuss as a caregiver. Learn how to share your child’s history with them in ways that promote healthy communication, offer developmentally appropriate language, and support the reduction of potential negative internalizations. Navigating these conversations with youth whose backgrounds specifically include abuse/neglect/domestic violence, substance abuse, rape/prostitution, and human trafficking will be discussed.
I'll collaborate with you to create a customized presentation for parents, caregivers, and professionals!

Upcoming Speaking and Training Engagements

Feedback from Speaking Engagements

“If you care deeply about broadening your perspective and helping others create a path toward healing, then look no further. Dr. Chaitra has proven to be an exceptional leader and expert in her field, helping us all learn, grow and develop the courage we need  to have difficult but necessary conversations.”
—STACY BURRELL, Raise the Future

“Dr. Wirta-Leiker's concise, comprehensive workshop provided participants with solid, well-researched information on this critical topic. She covered more ground in two hours than many presenters do in a half-day. Her charismatic presentation was both lively and compelling; a real call to action in the ongoing fight to quell racism and support diversity in both our work and personal lives.”
—JOHN DANDURAND, Executive Director, Human Services Network of Colorado

“As both a parent of a TRA and a clinician, I found this really helpful both for specific suggestions and broader concepts, as well as information about ongoing resources to access.”

“Her information was so clear, so affirming and so practical. Plus her experience as both a transracial adoptee AND as an adoptive parent offer great insight. Phenomenal training.”

“This is a very specialized topic that I have been needing and waiting for, but never able to find until now. Thank you for providing this opportunity. The speaker had great information and clearly understands how to effectively teach it to therapists so we can begin using it immediately.”

“As a fellow TRA (also from India), I was so happy to see this training. When I took [classes before], I actually asked many questions related to transracial adoption and unfortunately, the speakers weren't able to speak to that due to the level of specialty and how much time it would take to delve deeper. I hope to see more trainings like this one. Thank you for sharing your personal story and insights.”

Book a Reading with Dr. Chaitra