Participation Type


Session Title

NARRATIVES OF RESILIENCE: New Stories of Foster and Kinship Care and Adoption in Appalachia

Session Abstract or Summary

A showcase of creative approaches to telling new stories of resource and adoptive parenting in rural Appalachia: discussion from filmmaker Shelby Redfield Kilgore and screening of film clips from her documentary-in-progress BEYOND BIOLOGICAL, which focuses on Southwest Virginia and Northwest North Carolina-based social workers, foster care parents, adoptive parents, birth parents, foster care children and adoptees as they open up about their journey through the child welfare system, kinship care, open adoption, older child adoption, closed adoption, and international adoption. Author Darnell Arnoult shares flash essays and poems from the perspective of a kinship parent; Deborah Gold reads from a personal essay about lessons learned as a suburb/city dweller when becoming a foster parent in a rural mountain community; and storyteller and author Wendy Welch shares new stories of the impact of the opioid epidemic on the therapeutic foster and kinship care system in the coalfields of Virginia. Audience members will be invited to share their experiences in response. Introduced by convener and Cumberland region foster parent Alexia Ault, the showcase speaks to the aims of filmmaker Shelby Kilgore in creating her current work: “even with so many different faces of adoption, there are connecting threads that weave the stories together – hope, inspiration, resilience and love. It is [our] mission to allow people a safe space to share their story with others, so that it might be healing for them, as well as for the ones who are open to hearing their truths.”

Presentation #1 Title

“Y’all Ain’t From Around Here”: A Suburban-Raised Urbanite Becomes a Rural Foster Parent

Presentation #1 Abstract or Summary

Reading from personal essay

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #1

Deborah Gold is the pseudonym of a teacher, writer, and former foster parent. Licensed for 15 years, she and her husband gained custody of two siblings in 2014. She is the author of COUNTING DOWN: A Memoir of Foster Parenting and Beyond.

Presentation #2 Title

“Beyond Biological”: selections from a documentary-in-progress

Presentation #2 Abstract or Summary

Showing of film clips and discussion by the director

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #2

Shelby Redfield Kilgore is a documentary filmmaker and has worked in the TV industry for almost 15 years. As a personal passion project, Shelby has created videos on all faces of adoption since 2012. Adopted from South Korea, Shelby brings a unique understanding and empathy to the stories she tells through the lens. Her mission is to bring awareness, education, healing and inspiration about the foster care and adoption world. Launching a new series in December 2018, called "Beyond Biological", Shelby explores the unique stories of adoption and foster care in the heart of Appalachia.

Presentation #3 Title

Kinship Parenting: Flash Essays and Poems

Presentation #3 Abstract or Summary

Reading from creative writing.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #3

Darnell Arnoult is a fiction writer, poet, and kinship care parent. Her works include Galaxie Wagon, What Travels with Us, and Sufficient Grace. She is Writer-in-Residence and Assistant Professor of English at Lincoln Memorial University.

Presentation #4 Title

Telling New Stories of Foster Care and Adoption in Appalachia

Presentation #4 Abstract or Summary

Storytelling about foster care and adoption issues in the midst of the opioid crisis.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #4

Wendy Welch is the author of the internationally acclaimed memoir THE LITTLE BOOKSTORE OF BIG STONE GAP from St. Martin's Press. Her book FALL OR FLY: STRANGELY HOPEFUL STORIES OF FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION IN APPALACHIA came out in October 2017 from Swallow Press. She owns and operates a bookstore in Southwest Virginia and is book review editor for the JOURNAL OF APPALACHIAN STUDIES.

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“Y’all Ain’t From Around Here”: A Suburban-Raised Urbanite Becomes a Rural Foster Parent

Reading from personal essay