We Are Not Our Cruxes | Session One

Join us Saturday, November 18, 2023, from 12 – 3 p.m. at the Baldwin Hills Branch Library or online for We Are Not Our Cruxes, a project that centers the voices and mental health of adult adoptees and those who have gone through the foster care system. The project seeks to strengthen community and provide healing using art.

Through a series of hybrid convenings, participants engage in critical conversations aimed at exploring their unique struggles and experiences of those who identify as adopted or foster care alumni. Additionally, these gatherings offer art-based healing workshops, carefully designed to explore the emotional landscape of adult adoptees and foster care alumni while simultaneously promoting emotional well-being and resilience. Invited panelists for the critical conversations include adoptee artists, activists, mental health professionals, and scholars. The art-making portion of the events will be led by artist, art therapist, and transcultural adoptee Nicole Rademacher.

This first session will kick off the series with actor and filmmaker Brian Stanton, therapist and community builder Lesli Johnson, and singer and songwriter Dot Todman as panelists. Art therapist and co-founder and Executive Director of Emcompass Adoptees, Heather Gonzales, LPC will be joining via Zoom to support.

Events are designed for adults 18+. Those who identify as adult adoptees and/or foster care alumni are invited to be part of a research project, that includes a paper and an online interactive multilayered visualization.

All events will be recorded to form part of a short documentary at a later date. Please indicate on the ticket form if you do not want to be recorded, and we will exclude your likeness from being used. If you attend via Zoom, all names will remain anonymous.

Register for the event here.

This project is funded in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency.


Brian Stanton was adopted, born and raised in Kansas City. He is in reunion with both his birth mother and birth father. Brian is a Los Angeles-based actor. He premiered his award-winning, original solo play BLANK, telling the true story of his adoption, in Hollywood in 2010 and performed it all over the US and Canada for 10 years. Brian is currently traveling and screening his award-winning, original piece titled @ghostkingdom, a film that explores the search for biological relatives. The film is available on Vimeo.com. Brian lives with his wife and two daughters in Culver City.

Dot Todman, a Canadian adoptee of Jamaican heritage, found solace in songwriting amidst her isolated childhood. Following three degrees, this singer-songwriter’s career was paused by severe health challenges. Undeterred, she used her teaching experience, expertise, and wisdom to develop CORE Vocal Power®, a revolutionary approach to singing. As a Celebrity Vocal Empowerment Coach, she’s guided many, including actress/singer Chrissy Metz, to overcome personal barriers and find their voice. Fully recovered, Dot’s resilient journey continues to resonate as she returns to singing and shares her music. corevocalpower.com

Lesli Johnson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Coach specializing in adoption and related issues. Her clients include all members of the adoption and foster care community: adoptees, adoptive parents, waiting parents, birth/first parents, foster parents and families.

An adoptee herself, Lesli’s personal experience allows her to connect with this community in a unique way. Lesli is a certified EMDR therapist and trained in Brainspotting and the Trauma Resiliency Model.

In addition to her work in private practice, Lesli facilitates virtual healing courses, adoption support groups and consults on film, television and creative projects that have adoption related and themes. Learn more or connect with Lesli: askadoption.com


Nicole Rademacher is a socially-engaged artist, Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, and Registered Art Therapist working in video, photo, collage, and community engagement. The influence of her adoption and reunion (with her birth family) feature prominently in her studio practice where she explores concepts of intimacy, identity, belonging, and family. She held an artist residency at La Cité Internationale des Arts, received an Artistic Community Engagement Grant from the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, and is a recent recipient of the Adoptees for Awareness Grant, the Arts Council for Long Beach’s Creative Corps Grant and the California Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship. Rademacher holds an MFA in Electronic Integrated Arts from Alfred University and a BFA in photography and video from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in addition to an MA in Marital & Family Therapy with a Specialization in Clinical Art Therapy from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She has collaborated and shown work widely both nationally & internationally including the Centro de Arte Digital en Memoria de Juan Downey in Chile, Harvestworks in NYC, LOOP Video Art Festival in Barcelona, and Transmediale in Berlin. Rademacher lives and works in Los Angeles, USA. nicolerademacher.com


Yes! You are more than welcome to attend and join in the community healing. We just ask that you allow the adoptees and former foster youth to have space to voice their experiences.

If you attend in-person, art supplies will be provided. If you Zoom in, feel free to bring whatever art supplies you prefer to use. Nic encourages colored pencils, collage, markers, slick sticks, and pastels.