2020 Conference At-A-Glance

NOTE:  Please be aware of the times that Registration will be open.  
These times will be strictly adhered to so the volunteers on the Registration Desk may attend workshops

Disclaimer: Please be aware this is MAY NOT be the FINAL schedule of the 2020 AAC Conference.
All events, times and locations may have to change according to late-breaking events during the conference.
Little things like, say a tornado, fire, can simply wreak havoc on a well-planned conference schedule! 

Time of Workshop/
Duration of Workshop/
Workshop TitlePresentersWorkshop Description
Wednesday - April 15, 2020
5:00 - 8:00 PMOpening Welcome ReceptionLiz DeBetta 
8:00 - 11:00 PM                                                                                           HOSPITALITY SUITE
Thursday - April 16, 2020
8:00 - 8:10 AMOfficial Opening  
8:10 - 8:30 AMWELCOMESharon Kaplan Roszia

8:30 -10:00 AM1st Keynote: Finding My Place:
Through the Lens of a Foster and Adoptive Mom
Mary McGowan
Adoption practices and policies have significantly changed over time, and it is important to understand their evolution, as well as the implications of these changes.  This keynote presentation will highlight research findings on outcomes of infant and older child adoptions from foster care, openness in adoption, inracial, transracial and intercountry adoptions, and adoptions by lesbian and gay families. Implications and recommendations for birth and adoptive family and recommendations for birth and adoptive family members, as well as adoption professionals, will be provided.
10:00 - 10:15 AMBREAK  
 Workshops 1 - 3
10:15 - 11:45 AM   
Workshop 1
90 Minute
Coming out of the Fog: Grieving the GhostsLiz DeBetta, PhD (ABD)

Carole Billingham, MCC

Based on Betty Jean Lifton's concept of "Ghosts in the Adopted Family" this workshop will utilize guided meditation and therapeutic writing/sharing to help attendees learn tools to begin to process the grief inherent in adoption. By acknowledging the different types of loss that need to be grieved for adoptees, adoptive parents, and first families this workshop aims to forge connections through writing to the self and others involved in individual adoption stories to create space for healing in community.
Workshop 2
90 Minute
Insights from Behavioral Genetics Studies of Adoptive FamiliesDr. Kay Trimberger

Dr. Misaki Natsuaki

This workshop will include two presentations: Dr. E. Kay Trimberger, a sociologist, will discuss how behavioral genetics studies over time of adoptees, their birth and adoptive parents and their siblings, gave her insights as an adoptive mother into her relations with her son. Secondly, Dr. Misaki Natsuaki, Psychology Department, UC Riverside will discuss how her participation on behavioral genetics and fertility research projects has affected her understanding of diversity in how families are formed. Both talked will be in non-technical language, suitable for a general audience, but perhaps especially relevant to adoption professionals and to educators.
Workshop 3
90 Minute
Adoptive Parents/
Foster Parents/Adoptees/
Perspectives on Gay/Lesbian Parenting of Adoptees of ColorLeslie Livingston, MS

This workshop will offer participants both personal and research-based information on gay/lesbian parenting in general and that of children of color. Additionally, there will be the voices of adoptees of color, parented by gays/lesbians, who will talk openly about their experiences and offer their insights.
11:45 AM - 12:00 PMBREAK  
12:00 - 1:30 PM2nd Keynote: "The Hidden Brain"
A transformative new concept in psychobiology
Dr. Thomas Verney
The Hidden Brain is a theoretically unified system of description and explanation that integrates the discoveries of a wide range of sciences and proposes that memory is encoded in cells and tissues, using the same molecular mechanisms and algorithms so successfully utilized by the brain. Memory is truly a body-wide-web.
1:30 - 1:45 PMBREAK  
Workshops 4 - 6
1:45 - 3:15 PM   
Workshop 4
90 Minute

Origin Stories:
Using Creativity As a Means of Reframing
Jerri Allyn 
Coming Soon
Nicole Rademacher
Comming Soon
(These) artists present artwork reflecting their personal experiences in adoption, followed by Origin Stories workshop. Participants work in groups to create a story using visual prompts.
Workshop 5
90 Minute

3 Ways to Outsmart the Adoptee Survival BrainPamela Louise Cordano, MFT
Living in survival mode for sustained periods of time is unhealthy and stressful for us. Once we get triggered, we can find ourselves stuck in patterned thoughts and behaviors, not knowing how to shift into feeling better. In this workshop we will learn how to outsmart our survival brains in three practical and immediate ways.
Workshop 6
90 Minute
Adoptee/Foster Youth Alumni
The Archeology of You:
Journey to the Primal Wound
Jeanette Yoffe, MA, MFT
A workshop designed to guide participants on a visualization exercise of “entering the primal wound” through recognition,  recollection, reconciliation and rebuilding a foundation into the abyss. We will validate, honor, and explore the internal archaeology of this wound, and learn to be with, have compassion for and see it as  our greatest teacher, friend, and resource to return to time and time again without fear. “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not get over it, you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor would you want to.”- Elisabeth Kubler Ross
3:15 - 3:30 PMBREAK  
Workshops 7 - 9
3:30 - 5:00 PM   
Workshop 7
90 Minute
Adoption Triad/Professional
The Intergenerational Transmission of TraumaJill Copeland, LCPC
The impact of trauma extends beyond individuals to affect subsequent generations in ways we are continuing to understand, including parent-child attachment and interactions, as well as echoes of trauma experienced by our ancestors carried in our DNA. Unsung my own story as the child of an adoptee and my professional work as a therapist, this workshop will explore intergenerational and historical trauma, and how to recognize and heal trauma that does not belong to you.
Workshop 8
90 Minute
Dee Dee Mascarenas
This presentation will provide you with an introduction to or an advancement of your comprehension of the Seven Core Issues in Adoption (created by Sharon Roszia, LCSW and Deborah Silverstein, LCSW and further developed by Allison Davis Maxon).  Specifically we will examine how these themes apply to the Latino Family, so as to develop a deeper and more accurate understanding of the dynamics and concepts involved through a more cultural lens.  Further, to inform one’s practice or caseload, as well as share how one can effectively and positively intervene in the lives of this ever growing population in Adoption.  More importantly, to help develop a wisdom, a consciousness, a proficiency and a compassionate appreciation in their work with the Constellation of Adoption. 
Workshop 9
90 Minute
The Case for Honoring Birth MothersSara Easterly

In this 90-minute presentation, Sara Easterly builds the case for honoring birth mothers by sharing her personal experiences as an adoptee when such an honoring did not take place – and her 40-year struggles with fantasies, depression, and suicidal thoughts, along with difficulties attaching to her adoptive mother and not feeling a sense of rootedness in the world. Ending on a note of hope, Sara offers simple, high-impact ideas for courageous adoptive parents to honor their child's birth mother – whether in open or closed adoptions – informed by developmental science and her studies as an authorized parent facilitator for the Neufeld Institute.
5:00 - 5:15 PMBREAK  
5:15 - 6:15 PM                                                                          VARIOUS SUPPORT GROUPS 
6:15 - 7:30 PMDinner on your own  
7:30 - 9:00 PMMEETUP Groups  
 Poetry & Prose Open MicRoberta MacDonald

All conference participants are invited to bring poetry or prose in up to five-minute segments.  Time allotted will depend on the number of participants.
 Author's Round TableAmy Winn
Calling all authors! Whether you are presenting or attending, you are invited to join our Authors Round Table. Each author will be asked to give a brief summary how you came to write your adoption-related book, an overview of the book and of course to sell your book! Once all authors have spoken, we’ll take questions and comments from the audience.
9:00 - 11:30 PM                                                                              HOSPITALITY ROOM OPEN
Friday - April 17, 2020
8:00 - 9:30 AM
For new and seasoned adoptee rights advocates and those who wish to learn more about adoptee rights advocacy.

A PowerPoint, or digital, presentation will allow for discussion too.
3rd Keynote:
"Clean" Adoption Reform:
Past, Present and Future
Tim Monti-Wohlpart

Shawna Hodgson

Tim Monti-Wohlpart (National Legislative Chair / NY State Rep) and Shawna Hodgson (Volunteer Coordinator / Texas activist) will outline the American Adoption Congress’ ongoing legislative policy to support the restoration of unrestricted access to original birth certificates for all adult adoptees. More specifically, how success in New York, ending 83 years of discrimination, will be key to continuing our push for “clean” reform until the entire United States embraces unrestricted adoptee rights. Discussion with attendees will allow for review of
1) how does one start and lobby legislation
2) suggestions for a media strategy and
3) how to actively debunk the arguments of adoptee rights opponents.
Discussion will also include AAC efforts to support the Indian Child Welfare Act and rising concern with international adoption. Finally, buckle up: Tim and Shawna will provide a general introduction to upcoming bombshell information about Louise Wise Services, the shuttered NYC adoption agency that conducted the unacceptable twin and triplet studies. In short, those were the tip of the iceberg.
9:30 - 9:45 AMBreak  
                                                                                  Workshops 10 & 12
9:45 - 11:15 AM    
Workshop 10
90 Minute
Transforming Trauma: How to Heal from Adoption-Related Trauma and Live Your Authentic LifeLesli Johnson, MFT

Dr. Tracy L. Carlis PhD

Lesli and Tracy, both adoptees and adoption-informed therapists will share useful ways that members of the adoption community can heal. Their presentation includes ways to work through trauma including: talk therapy, journaling, art, finding community, yoga practice, mindfulness, EMDR, Brainspotting, psychedelic assisted therapy and group therapy. They will share professional case examples as well as what they have found helpful in her own healing. There will be ample time for Q&A.
Workshop 11
90 Minute
The Role of an Adoption Coach in Search and ReunionMark Lacava, LCSW-R
Coming Soon
This workshop will present coaching techniques that support all members of the adoption constellation during Search and Reunion. Specific interventions and approaches will be presented for each stage of the process and will be illustrated by examples from Spence-Chapin's coaching practice with birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive parents. In addition, the anatomy of coaching sessions and the impact of DNA testing on the search experience will be discussed.
Workshop 12
90 Minute
Integration, Embodiment and Post Traumatic Growth: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Power of Storytelling to Heal the Primal WoundJoanna Mailani Lima
Coming Soon
Let's explore together how to tell and to receive stories in languages we don't speak. You are invited on a right- and left-brain journey of sound, image and movement in which we will navigate the complicated waters of trauma and loss. In this unique experience of culture and community, you will find stories of intersectionality and transracial adoption, and discover new ways to tap into your innate power to bring hope, healing and happiness into your life
11:15 - 11:30 AMBreak  
                                    Workshops 13 & 15 
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM   
Workshop 13
60 Minute
Workshop 14
60 Minute
Adoptees Searching for TruthValerie Naiman
Coming Soon
A workshop delving into the "How To's" of searching and some on reunion rejection. After decades of research ,hiring detectives, 3 DNA tests and finding a Search Angel, the mystery was unveiled. My original BC had fake names and my birthfather was adopted, but despite that I found them. I remain a secret frp, ,u 97 year-old mothers family but she allowed me to meet them at a party, where I posed as a photographer.
Workshop 15
Adoptees, birthparents, adoptive parents, and the general public.
60 Minute

Type of Presentation: Short overview with panel discussion to follow, and question and answer period reserved at the end
We Too Are Human: The Complex Legacy of Secrecy in Adoption
Greg Luce

Shawna Hodgson

Gabrielle Glaser
Alicia Kay Lanier

Iron-clad secrecy has been a critical component in adoption for more than eighty years, beginning in the 1930s with California enacting the first law to seal birth records  from everyone involved in the adoption, including the adoptee. In a discussion about the legacy of such secrecy, panelists will first discuss the historical context of sealing all records and making an adoption a secret human event. The panel will then discuss common perceptions surrounding secrecy in adoption and seek answers to surprisingly difficult and nuanced questions, such as:
  • what was the real reason for the secrecy and sealing of records?
  • who benefited the most from such secrecy and how were those interests represented and assured?
  • How did imposing secrecy in everything about adoption square with corrupt practices that flourished in secrecy, such as black market adoptions in the 1940s, 1950s, and beyond; and
  • What experiments on adoptees did secrecy allow?
  • What is the legacy today of such secrecy? and
  • How has that legacy played out for the humans who live it?
12:30 - 12:45 PMBreak  
12:45 - 2:15 PM4th Keynote: Live Empowered!Dr. Julie Lopez

Coming Soon
2:15 - 2:30 PMBREAK  
Workshops 16 - 18
2:30 - 3:30 PM   
Workshop 16
Dirty States versus Clean States: the Lifelong Impact on AdopteesJena Leddon, LICSW

Utilizing research to help describe what a ‘dirty’ state is versus a clean state, the presenter describes how the policies in state law can have lifelong impacts on adoptees sense of self, ability to search for biological family members, and continued sense of being “second class citizens” within the United States.
Workshop 17
Sensory Processing and the Adopted Child: Insights and Positive Helpful StrategiesCheryann Pleasants-Beruldseen,
This presentation is designed for any parent seeking understanding of Sensory Processing and the influence it has on child development. Strategies will be given to help children better engage with learning, daily living skills, and relationships. Parents will be given to help children better engage with learning, daily living skills, and relationships. Parents will be given guidance in recognizing and encouraging their child’s strength based areas.
Workshop 18
60 Minute
Bottom Up! Adult Healing for the Child Within through Playful ConnectionsJanet Nordine, MS, LMFT, RPT

Utilizing current information about the brain, brain development, developmental trauma, attachment and how playful engagements can help "settle" the brain, participants will learn, play and engage in a connected, safe environment with each other.
3:30 - 3:45 PMBREAK  
Workshops 19 -21
3:45 - 4:45 PM   
Workshop 19
60 Minute
Adoptive Parent/
Foster Parent
Maximizing Communication to Enhance Nurturing SkillsSharon Obazee, CPE
Coming Soon
Personality type gives insight into how to leverage strengths, minimize weaknesses, and create an environment that allows individuals to become self aware of communication styles. The Four Essential Elements of Personality Type Human personality is represented by four dimensions that help to describe the individual and how he or she operators and thrives. Understanding how we communicate and interact with others will significantly impact our behavior with our adopted children and enhance family dynamics.
Workshop 20
60 Minute
Belly Love: Soothing the Second BrainMichelle Diggs
Coming Soon
This workshop is based on trauma informed science and the relationship between the trauma of early caregiving disruptions and problems with the digestive system. Fun/light teaching moments about how to listen to the gut, participate in guided self-exploration of the gut, and practice mindfulness meditation are incorporated throughout the presentation. Discussion about strategies to help develop a healthier digestive system and self is followed by learning an easy routine of abdominal self massage and opportunities for Q & A.
Workshop 21
60 Minute
1st Parent/
Adoptee & Families
Getting the Reunion You WantAlicia Kay Lanier

Based on personal reunion experiences and varied triad groups participation, birthmother Alicia Kay Lanier will help participants be clear about what they want from reunion with a newly found family member and determine the other person's wants and needs. This workshop will offer pointers about initiating first contact; discussion about reluctance or rejection; tips for developing patience in challenging situations and when to meet in person. Participants will be encouraged to share experiences and issues.
4:45 - 5:00 PMBREAK  
5:00 - 6:00 PM                                                                      VARIOUS SUPPORT GROUPS
6:00 - 7:30 PMDinner on your own  
7:30 - 9:00 PMVOLUNTEER ARE EVERYTHING TO US! Come join your Board of Directors in celebrating all who have helped make this conference possible and to join our volunteer family to put your passion for adoption reform into action!
9:00 - 11:30 PM                                                                         HOSPITALITY ROOM OPEN
Saturday - April 18, 2020
8:30 - 10:00 AM5th Keynote: Adoptees and the Imposter SyndromeErica Babino (B.A.)

People who suffer from the Imposter Syndrome have feelings of inadequacy and chronic self-doubt that persists even when facts contradict those feelings. In essence, one feels like a fraud.  Adoptees grow up with similar feelings. This interactive presentation by Erica Babino will show the intersectionality and how adoptees can overcome the Imposter Syndrome.
10:00 - 10:15 AMBREAK  
 Workshops 22 - 24
10:15 - 11:15 AM   
Workshop 22
60 Minute
Foster Parent/

Surviving the Child with FASDYvette Jones
As a foster parent, children placed in your care may come with or suspected with a a diagnosis of FASD. What does this mean when you hear that diagnosis? What can you expect of that child? This workshop will explore ways you can adjust your life style and still survive the ride with FASD. Be prepared for real life stories, interventions and strategies
Workshop 23
60 Minute
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in First Mothers and AdopteesLinda Franklin, LCSW
This workshop will comprised clinical, research, and personal information on the occurrence of PTSD in first/birthmothers and adoptees, drawing from my professional expertise as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and my experience as a first mother in the process of reuniting with my son given up to adoption in 1964. Audience participation, sharing and discussion will be encouraged.
Workshop 24Comparing Adoption and Donor Conception/Third-Party Reproduction Using The Seven Core Issues Sharon Kaplan Rozsia 

Kris Probasco

The history of Adoption and Donor Conceptions has shared issues of secrecy, shame, anonymous genetics, dishonesty, adult focus plans, separation, and lack of child’s best interests. This workshop will examine the similarities of practices using The Seven Core Issues. The presenters have over 100 years of practice combined to offer this workshop.
11:15 - 11:30 AMLONG BREAK - SNACKS????  
Workshops 25 - 27
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM   
Workshop 25
Open Adoption: A Parent's JourneyThomas Rector
We want to see our children flourish and our family dynamic succeed. In this workshop, one adoptive dad shares how his children’s open adoptions revealed new insights on how memories, environment, and human development impact experiences, behavior and decisions, and how to use this knowledge to enhance open adoption dynamics.
Workshop 26
60 Minute
Transracial Families and those considering or already adopting
Inside Trans racial AdoptionsIsaac Etter
This presentation will cover the complexities of being a transracial adoptee by sharing personal stories and challenges as well as helpful advice and guidance on how parents can prepare and help their children as the grow up. He will cover topics such as racial bias, mental health, identity, racial identity, and family dynamics.
Workshop 27

Search, Reunion, Rejection; Oh My! How One Therapist Learned to Navigate this Emotional Roller Coaster and You Can Too!Kristin Jones, MS CMHC

This presentation will cover the complexities of being a transracial adoptee. Sharing personal stories and challenges as well as helpful advice and guidance on how parents can prepare and help their children as they grow up. Covering topics such as, racial bias, mental health, identity, and racial identity, and family dynamics.
12:30 - 12:45 PMBREAK  
                                                              Workshops 28 - 30 
12:45 - 1:45 PM   
Workshop 28
Open Adoption: An Adoptee's JourneyDanielle Rector Gorretta
Coming Soon
Adopted at birth through an open adoption and raised to believe that you can’t have too much family, Danielle shares her journey through to adulthood building memories and relationships with various members of her birth, adoptive and chosen family.
Workshop 29
60 Minute
Adoption Triad/
Life After AdoptionMichelle &
Karry Murphy
Coming Soon
Michelle and Karry will discuss the experience of a 1972 closed adoption from the perspectives of the birth parent and the adoptee. Karry and Michelle reunited 15 Years ago but for years had many questions, feelings of loss and uncertainty. We will share the personal experiences of our lives, our meeting, and how our experience has shaped and affected each of us. We will conclude with question and answer time.
Workshop 30
60 Minute
Birth Parent/
Adoptive Parent/
Pretend It Never HappenedKaren Krueger

Carolyn Campbell

A powerful and inspiring true story of a young mother and the daughter she was forced to surrender for adoption. Through her journey of healing and against incredible odds, Karin Krueger search for and found her daughter. They were reunited in 1984 and recently celebrated 35 years together. Their reunion inspired her to late discover and reunite with her birth father, a Catholic priest. They developed a close relations for 21 years, before his passing in 2013.
1:45 - 2:00 PMBREAK  
2:00 - 3:30 PMAwards Luncheon and Town Hall Fond Farewells  
3:30 - 3:45 PMBREAK  
3:45 - 4:45 PMAnnual Board Meeting