The Beacon
October 2008  

Details of the  AAC's national conference will be announced in November's issue of  The Beacon. Please plan to join us in Cleveland April 22-26, 2009 at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown, and the Gateway Conference Center.






     The AAC Board of Directors has recently voted to focus on regional conferences for 2010, and to sponsor our next national conference in 2011. We chose this strategy for a number of reasons:

     *  To provide a conference experience that will be less costly, closer to home, and require less elapsed time for members unable to commit to the duration and expense of a national conference.

     *  To allow the AAC to rechannel the energy and resources consumed by national conference planning into other worthwhile educational and legislative projects.

     *  To appeal to new audiences, which want a taste of an AAC conference experience.

     Your suggestions for locations, themes, and partners for regional conferences, are important to our process. We would like to consider states with active legislation, and geographic areas that have not hosted the AAC in the recent past. Please contact Eileen McQuade, the AAC's current president, at, with your suggestions and to volunteer to get involved in planning a conference in your location.     

Editor's note: At publication time, the conference committee was confirming the list of keynote speakers for the national conference in Cleveland, April 22-26, 2009. The committee was also in the final phase of reviewing workshop proposals. Conference details will be available on the AAC's web site, and on the web site of Adoption Network Cleveland, the co-sponsor of this conference, in the near future.




*  Credit Card Donations Accepted on Web Site

By clicking on the Donate Now button, you can make immediate donations to the AAC using your American Express, Visa or MasterCard, in a secure and safe way. You may designate memorial contributions and donations to a specific fund. Please take advantage of this option by going to:

Click on the Donate to AAC button, in the upper left hand corner of the homepage.

*  Making Contact

For anyone at that important step in the reunion process, the AAC has revised and reissued these guidelines. Making Contact can be found under the Education/Search & Reunion menu items at:

Visit the AAC on MySpace

On the AAC's homepage, click the link to MySpace, where you can read the latest blog entries. As you navigate the page, you can listen to DMC sing, "Just Like Me," an adoptee's rap version of "The Cat's in the Cradle." The MySpace link can be found in the Join Us column of the homepage at:

* The AAC Is Now on Facebook

The AAC has been added as an organization on Facebook. If you are a Facebook member, please join the American Adoption Group and show your support, at:


To contact the Beacon's content editor, or to submit news items for consideration, please send an email to Joan Schumack, content editor, at:



     The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute specializes in research and public policy. It publishes a free monthly newsletter, available through email subscription. The Institute's mission, as stated on its web site is

     "To provide leadership that improves adoption laws, policies, and practices -- through sound research, education and advocacy -- in order to better the lives of everyone touched by adoption."

     The Donaldson Institute operates offices in Boston and New York City. Its executive director, Adam Pertman, has been a keynote speaker and presenter at AAC conferences. He is frequently cited and sought out by the media for his expertise in adoption policies, law, and reform. Please visit the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute at:





By Wendy Rowney
Education Chair


     Determining how best to educate the public about the realities of adoption is a daunting task. How do we reach people? What should we tell them? How do we get our message across?

     Since February of this year, the Education Committee has been hard at work answering these questions. We have designed a number of projects that we hope will share adoption truths with people outside the adoption constellation.

1. Making Contact
      Our first project was completed in August. It is now posted on the AAC's web site. Under “Education,” then “Search and Reunion,” you will find suggestions on how to make that all-important first contact with a found relative. We discuss the pros and cons of making the initial contact by phone versus letter; provide possible scripts to help with the first conversation; and. suggest some of the emotions that both the searcher and person found might experience. We hope you will check it out, and direct it to anyone who is getting ready to reunite.

2. YouTube Video
      We are tackling a series of three short videos, to premiere on YouTube. One video will focus on adoptees, the second will focus on birth parents, and the final video will look at adoptive parents. In each video, photos of people who have been impacted by adoption will flash onto the screen while a voiceover, (performed by an acutal member of the adoption community), will talk about the realities of adoption.

3. Coloring and Activity Book
      We are in the process of creating a coloring and activity book for young children living in an open adoption. The book will tell the story of “Sarah” and her relationships with her four parents: two by birth and two by adoption. Soon, we will be ready to start seeking an illustrator to bring “Sarah” to life.

4. Media Ambassadors
      We are almost ready to launch the AAC’s Media Ambassador program. Members will have two opportunities to become involved and help spread the word about adoption truths. They can choose to share their personal stories with the media when adoption events occur, (think Juno), or write letters to the editor on these same occasions. In either case, the Education Committee will send out key talking points and instructions on how to contact the media.

     Please stay tuned. Over the next few weeks, you will be hearing much more about these projects. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at:





NOV. 7-9, 2008 IN OAKLAND, CA

     Adopted and Fostered Adults of the African Diaspora (AFAAD) is holding its first ever gathering for adoptees and foster care alumni from transracial/international and same-race families. Entitled "Healing Ourselves, Making Connections," this gathering will be held at the Washington Inn, in downtown Oakland, California.

     According to AFAAD's web site, "The purpose of this historic gathering will be to make connections, network, provide healing space, and to celebrate the diversity of our amazing diaspora of transracial, international, domestic adoptees and foster care alums. AFAAD uses 'Black' in the widest diasporic sense, which includes African, African American, bi-racial and multi heritage, Afroasian and Afrolatino peoples."

     Attendees of the gathering will need to reserve hotel rooms separately from their registration for the gathering. The hotel's web site is, and its telephone number is 510-452-1776.

    AFAAD can be reached by telephone at 510-836-0133, or by postal mail at P. O. Box 24771, Oakland, CA 94607. AFAAD's web site is at Email can be sent to




Editor's note: In the September issue, a technical difficulty prevented this full story from appearing. The article is being reprinted in its entirety here. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Participation by the AAC's members was crucial to the successful debut of The Beacon.

     A naming contest held earlier this year produced 41 suggested names. The difficult task of picking a name fell to the Board of Directors. Board members did not know in advance who had submitted each suggested name.

     When all the votes were counted, the winning entry was The Beacon. It was submitted by Roberta MacDonald. If her name sounds familiar, Ms. MacDonald is the AAC's state representative for North Carolina.

     When she was notified of her winning entry, Ms. MacDonald said, "I want to take this time to thank all of you for finding my entry 'award winning' . . . (The Beacon) just seemed very appropriate."

     Ms. MacDonald is a reunited adoptee, who was born in New Jersey. In her professional life, she is president of Computer Magic Services, Inc.

     In addition to her work with the AAC, Ms. MacDonald chairs the North Carolina Coalition for Adoption Reform. Active in adoption reform since 2000, Ms. MacDonald managed to successfully pass legislation in 2007 allowing adoption agencies in North Carolina to act as confidential intermediaries.

     Ms. MacDonald said her legislative goals in 2009 for adoption reform in North Carolina are to:

• Refine the confidential intermediary program, to allow siblings and other family members of a biological parent to search for an adult adoptee.

• Allow agencies to search for other family members, when a birth parent is found to be deceased.

• Look at the possibility of opening up retroactively sealed birth certificates prior to 1945, when birth certificates were sealed.