The Beacon
AAC Established 1978                       July/August, 2009  

Thanks to all the members who took the time in June to complete a questionnaire.

Your insights will directly influence decisions by the AAC's Board of Directors in the future.






     The AAC's website contains a storehouse of information on nearly any topic of interest to people with ties to the adoption community. Here is a partial list of resources that be found on the AAC's website:


     •  Revised Book List

This section was revised and expanded after the Cleveland conference. Book titles are organized within five categories: Classics; Emotional/Psychological Aspects of Adoption; Personal Accounts; Politics, Policy and Adoption Reform; and, Search and Reunion.



     •  Finding an Adoption-Competent Therapist

This link was added to the AAC's homepage after the conference in Cleveland. Visitors can download a PDF file of the presentation of the same name that was offered during the conference in April. The presentation is also on an audio CD that can be purchased through the AAC's website at


     •  AAC's Position Statements

The AAC has taken positions on five major issues of interest to the adoption community: abandoned baby legislation; assisted reproduction technology; adult adoptees' rights; search policy; and access to records. These position statements can be read at


     •  Support Groups by State and Province

This page on the AAC's website contains contact information for groups in the states and provinces where support services exist. It is updated quarterly by Carolyn Hoard, the AAC's secretary and membership chair. To add a support group to this comprehensive list, please send an email to Carolyn Hoard at The list of support groups can be viewed as a PDF file at


     •  International Links

Listed by continent and country, these links provide dozens of contacts for anyone with an interest in inter-country adoption. This page is updated semi-annually. It was last updated in May.


     Among the other topics addressed on the AAC's website are the issues of foster care, best practices in child welfare, and open adoption. Please visit the AAC's website to discover an on-line resource and gateway to issues that can affect someone touched by adoption.



By Wendy Rowney

Education Director and Canadian Liaison

     The AAC proudly announces the launch of two slide shows designed to educate the public about adoption truths. Through photos, words and memories of actual adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents, we explore what it is like not to know where you come from, and we demonstrate that birth mothers never forget the child they placed for adoption.

     This fall, please watch for the launch of two additional videos.  One video will talk about reunion and how it positively changed the lives of an adopted adult and his birth mother. In the final video, an adoptive mother reflects on her daughter’s reunion, and her feelings about the changes that the reunion brought into their lives.

     Thanks to the many AAC members who shared their images and memories with us. Their support made these projects possible.

     Check out the two AAC slide shows on YouTube, share them with others, and help to spread the word about adoption and truth.

Adoption and Truth


Birth Mothers Never Forget






Co-founder of ISRR leaves a legacy

of countless reunions over the decades


"We have lost a gem of a man."


     Tony Vilardi, a quiet but effective force behind the International Soundex Reunion Registry, passed away on June 12, 2009 in Reno, Nevada.  Along with his late wife Emma May, Vilardi founded and operated the ISRR as a free registry for anyone seeking family members.

     The ISRR's website remembered Vilardi, noting, "Those of us who were blessed to work with him, play with him, volunteer with him, laugh with him (and there was plenty of his humor to go around) -- know we have lost a gem of a man."

    The website's tribute to Vilardi continued: "The number of adoptees, birth parents, siblings and other family members who have been touched by Tony's generosity and commitment is in the tens of thousands.  Most will never know it was he who paid for the telephone bills, printing, envelopes or postage that resulted in their reunion.  Most will never understand how their lives are different because he quietly and consistently made sure that ISRR stayed strong and open".

    The ISRR has created a memorial page on its website to honor Vilardi:



Earle Barnes, long-time AAC member,

owned and operated Metro Reunion Registry


    Earle Barnes owned and operated the Metro Reunion Registry, primarily for the Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland areas.  He passed away after a courageous battle with the very rare and difficult to treat monoblastic leukemia.  Even though this form of leukemia rarely has a positive outcome, Barnes was always the positive patient with the phrase, "Go for it!"

      Barnes and his wife Angela had no children, but ABSN (Adoptee-Birthparent Support Network) and all its members were family. His wife asked: "May you always remember him as a fighter, a wonderful caring person and a great companion of mine for 54 years." Barnes was a long-time member of the American Adoption Congress.  




     For the summer, the Beacon is appearing in early July, and will return after Labor Day. In that time, the AAC's board members will analyze responses to the members' survey.

    Plans will also move forward over the summer for next year's conferences. At this time, a two-day weekend conference may be scheduled for the spring of 2010 in Northern California. A similar two-day weekend conference is anticipated for the fall of 2010 in the AAC's Mid-Atlantic Region.

     Please visit the website frequently over the summer for updates on the AAC's news and events.




     AAC will be automating its membership in the next few months.  Our current database is maintained on old software, which is no longer supported.

     Before conversion to the new software, it is important we have current and accurate contact information for our members. 

     If you have moved or changed your email address in the past year, or know of any AAC members who have, please email the updated contact information to Carolyn Hoard, our Membership Chair. If you are unsure whether your contact information is up-to-date, please send Hoard an email, and she will check. Her email address is







     With six support groups throughout Northern California, PACER serves not only the triad, but also offers support groups specifically for adoptees and birth mothers. PACER stands for Post Adoption Center for Education and Research.

     PACER's triad meetings are held in Marin County, Contra Costa County, plus the cities of Cameron Park, Sacramento, San Mateo, and Sebastapol. Adoptee only groups are held in Oakland and Sacramento. Birth mother only groups are held in the East Bay and Sacramento.

     According to it's website, PACER's mission  is "to foster a better understanding of adoption as a lifelong process and intergenerational journey, and to serve all members of the adoption triad – adoptees, birthparents and siblings, and adoptive families – by providing comprehensive information and ongoing emotional support."

"Advocating for the human rights of all those affected by adoption"

     In addition, PACER "encourages truth and openness among all participants in the adoption process. We also recognize and honor diverse opinions among our membership and readers, while advocating for the human rights of all those affected by adoption."

     Among the resources available through the PACER website are links to lists of books, movies, news articles, in past issues of the PACER newsletter, therapists, and links to the websites of other adoption-related groups.

     PACER's website gives a brief history of the organization:     

"PACER was founded in 1978 by Dirck Brown, with the help of his wife, Molly. Dirck was an educator, and also an adoptee.  He served as an Army officer in the Korean War, got his doctorate in education from Columbia, acted as Dean of Students at several major universities, and worked for the National Education Association in Washington, D.C. After searching for and finding his birthmother in 1976, he became a Marriage, Family and Child counselor. Shortly after moving from Maryland to Palo Alto, he started an adoption support group, which met in his home during the late 1970's. Not long after that, PACER was born."

PACER's founder also among the founders of the AAC

     The website continues: “We knew we had found the perfect way to help others who needed acceptance and support,” Dirck wrote in PACER's 25th Anniversary newsletter, published just two months before his death in December of 2005. He also worked with Tony and Emma Vilardi (of International Soundex Reunion Registry) to help found the American Adoption Congress (AAC), and later served on its board and as its president."

     For additional information on Pacer in Northern California, please visit its website at


     Submissions for The Beacon may be emailed to: Please send messages to the attention of Joan Schumack, The Beacon's content editor. Schumack also serves as the AAC's Communications Chair, and can be contacted directly at

     Portions of The Beacon may be quoted and copied if credit is given to "The AAC Beacon, American Adoption Congress," with the exception of copyrighted articles. Permission to reprint copyrighted articles must be obtained directly from the author. Opinions expressed in the Beacon are not necessarily those of the AAC.


The American Adoption Congress comprises individuals, families and organizations committed to adoption reform. We represent those whose lives are touched by adoption or other loss of family continuity. We promote honesty, openness and respect for family connections in adoption, foster care, and assisted reproduction. We provide education for our members and professional communities about the lifelong process of adoption. We advocate legislation that will grant every individual access to information about his or her family and heritage.