voice on adoption

Both a writer and public speaker, Carissa brings a unique perspective as a Korean adult adoptee and professional counselor/marriage and family therapist as she speaks to her audience with authenticity, humor and insight. She has the ability to leave the listener inspired and moved to see and hold more of the human heart.

Topics offered in breakout or keynote presentation format.

“Listen: Why we must listen to the heart in every adoptee’s story and how doing so might just change all of us.” – Our stories hold so much. They’re filled with people and places and experiences that have shaped us, deeply. For an adopted person, the story begins so early, too early, with loss. That’s a hard place to begin, to make sense of. In order to know where our story is headed, we must take the time to revisit where we’ve come from – the hard and hurting and lonely and shameful places. Because then, we will know where new life needs to be breathed in, where redemption can emerge. The hope is that as we write truth into our story, we can experience healing and connection, with others. That’s the kind of story we are invited to write. But, we need people – who know us, who understand us, who will listen to us. Healing can’t be done alone. We need one another.

“Brokenness and Beauty” – For every adoptive parent, there is a sacred story of how a child entered his or her life. There is a sense that you are able to provide a kind of life for your adopted child that otherwise he or she may not have had. But, we must remember, for every adopted child there is a story that is so often untold, a story of loss and brokenness and shame, a story of the heart. We have to tell this part of the story too. These two stories share a space and a place in the heart of every adoptee. Carissa shares both the brokenness and beauty from her own relinquishment story, the impact loss has on the human heart and mind, and what it looks like to discover the truth, hope and redemption that exists in every adoptee’s story.

“Color” – The color of our skin matters. A lot. Explore what it means to be an adopted person AND a person of color living in America, how America’s story is part of every transracial family’s story, and how this impacts an adopted person’s identity. And then, what it looks like to step into the challenging and sensitive reality of a child’s world with awareness, intention and compassion, nurturing the many different layers of belonging, and reveal God’s heart for reconciliation, unity and love…for all.

“You look like me!” – For many adoptees, we wonder what it would be like to have people in our life who look like us – their face, their hair, their eyes, their DNA. In this session, Carissa talks about her experience with the longings deep inside of her to become a biological mother, what that journey was like to carry a life inside of her, and the emotional journey that took her back to her roots – her birth parents, her relinquishment, her attachment, her identity – and how she gained compassion and understanding for the road she traveled both as an adoptee and birth parent and the unpredictable and surprising and mysterious ways God invited her to graciously allow him to re-parent her through the process of having her own biological children.


Carissa Woodwyk is a Korean-born adoptee, writer, speaker, counselor/marriage and family therapist, advocate for the human heart. In each of these roles, she offers her story and voice and heart in ways that invite people to connect with themselves, with others, with God. She is co-author of Before You Were Mine: Discovering Your Adopted Child’s Lifestory. She and her husband have two children and live near Grand Rapids, MI.


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