February 2016
The Beacon

Thank you for your Donations!

Author: Susan Friel-Williams

The American Adoption Congress would like to thank the following organizations and individual for their gracious donations to the AAC in 2015!

Wendy Dunham, Helen Frost, Desiree Jacob, Julie Kummell, Susan and James Lowell, Suzanne Epp, Lorraine Killpack, Marjorie Garfield, Sally Brown, International Soundex Reunion Registry, Tracy Mayo, William Hutchinson, Lynn Franklin, Bonnie Joseph, Ellen Nix-Asselmeyer, Local Independent Charities, Christine Stougton, Zara Philips, Kim Paglino, Phyllis Lowinger, Bill Cordray, Melissa Fox, Kate Kelly, David Petruzziello, Beth Kane, Bruce Kellogg, Ann Adornetto, Karen DeClerk, Susan Read-Weil, Lisa Richesson, David Dufek, Judy Kennett and Susan Friel-Williams.


Author: Lynn Grubb

Adoption is
A concept, a belief and an action
A lack of choice and being chosen
A legal solution to a spiritual problem
A spiritual solution to a legal problem
A loving choice and a thrusting upon
A nurturing touch yet a stealing away
It saved me; yet damaged me  
Provided for me, yet took away from me
Blessed me yet cursed me
Gave me a name and took a name
It creates a chance for love to grow and a door for misunderstanding
It creates a family out of strangers and strangers out of family
It inspires and teaches and it wounds and damages


​A Birthmother Who Will Not Be Found

Author: JoAn Chace

On New Year’s Day, I resolved: Accept the decision of your son’s first mother.  She will not send family medical history.  She will not tell him his father’s name. He will have what a searcher sent him, a photo and two facts about his mother: her mother died of cancer, her father of heart failure, in their middle years.
When my daughter (adopted in California, 1972) asked to know her first mother, I shared the search.  With my son’s encouragement I searched for his mother, too (adoption, 1968).  My daughter met her family shortly before her mother died of cancer.  A search angel found only the last name of his mother, the legal minimum for a California birth certificate.
Last year, a professional searcher took up that name. She found my son’s mother and spoke with her by telephone.  Divorced, with a daughter, his mother asked for time to think.  She said no, but agreed to read a letter from me.
Her son was happy, I wrote, with his wife and daughters, 10 and 7.  He would be grateful, I said, for the sake of his girls, to have family medical history and his father’s name.  She is silent.
What drives this ungenerous behavior?  We can guess:  Secrecy breeds shame.  Shame keeps her silent, detached.  Closed birth certificates mean something to hide.  With no secrets, no shame.
JoAn Chace, from my blog, “It’s a Can of Worms,” at openbirthrecordscalifornia.com and my Facebook page, “Adoptee’s Right: A Truthful Birth Certificate.”  

Conference Early Registration Extended - Good News!

Author: AAC

"We are excited to announce that we are extending early registration until February 15th. We have an amazing lineup of 7 keynote speakers, 40 workshops, over 61 presenters, 2 films and last but not least a amazing play..Enjoy our many opportunities to connect and network with others in the Mile High City of Denver Join us from March 30th through April 2nd, 2016."

We have secured rooms at a conference rate that are quickly running out as to conference nears.  If you plan on joining us, please register for the hotel and the conference as soon as possible to ensure the best rates.


A Safe Space

Author: Linda Schellentrager

Adoption Network Cleveland’s long history of support has centered around face-to-face connections.  Her voice is cracking as the words come out.

“The last time I saw my daughter was in the hospital. That was in 1979.”

She is sitting in an Adoption Network Cleveland General Support and Discussion Meeting (aka General Meetings). The chairs are arranged in a circle – and everyone there has a connection to adoption or cares about someone with a connection or is a professional to learn more.


New Year Marks Full Access to OBCs and Adoption Records in CO!

Author: Rich Uhrlaub

Some seventy years of sealed adoption records and original birth certificates came to an end  in Colorado with the arrival of the New Year! The last remaining restricted group of adult adoptees (those whose adoptions were finalized between 7/1/1967 and 9/1/1999, and prior to 1951) began applying in force for original birth certificates on January 4.  Enactment of the new laws impacts an estimated 250,000 people with a connection to Colorado adoption, making the state a case study in how incremental legislative changes can result in ultimate (though grueling and not necessarily recommended) success. 

A representative from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Vital Records reports about 2000 downloads of the application form in first month since SB 14-051 went into full effect.  The department, which promises a 30 day (or less) turnaround time, has received over 400 completed forms and has processed most of them. Records remain sealed to the general public (accessible only by court order). Birth/first parents have the option to complete a Contact Preference Form and Medical History Statement confirming whether they would prefer direct contact; contact via a third party; or no contact.  


An Adoptee’s Perspective: Written in January, 2013

Author: Rebecca Tillou

The day is January 12, 1980.  The hospital I assume is Valley Hospital in Ridgewood New Jersey.  The time is 1:06 am.  A baby girl is brought into the world.  Her mother may have held her briefly, felt her little body against herself for a moment’s time.  She may not have.  Her mother may have decided not to hold her daughter at all, and had a nurse immediately take her because the pain was too great. Only her mother and the nurses know what happened that morning.


A Journey for Identity

Author: Craig A. Steffen

The funeral was over. I had officiated the service, but now everyone had left for the cemetery. I stood over the casket of my adoptive father and said good-bye for the last time. As tears streamed down my face in the silence of death, a tiny ember ignited inside my curious soul. For the first time in my 50 years, I could hear the echoes of questions that were once uttered in my distant past. “Who are you?” “Where do you come from?” “Who is your tribe?” “Are they still out there – somewhere?

I was abandoned at age two, spent a year in an orphanage, a year in foster care and was adopted at age four. I grew up knowing I was adopted, even before I knew what “adopted” meant. I was born and adopted in the State of Iowa where adoption records were (and still are) permanently sealed. So I knew about the concept of being adopted, but I had zero personal information about what that might actually mean to me.



Author: Joan E. Hertz, PhD

 A sixteen year old girl from an affluent suburban family is sent to a group home for pregnant teenagers.  She receives no visitors for the four months she is there and then delivers a healthy baby girl.  She cradles the baby in her arms and feeds her for a week, and then relinquishes her to a social worker while she returns to her usual life as a high school student.  She and the baby will presumably never meet again and the incident is never mentioned to anyone. The baby is taken to a foster home and then is adopted at fours months of age by a family with one biological child.  What are the long-term effects on a child whose symbiotic attachment with her birth mother ended abruptly and was then compounded by a following attempt to bond in foster care? 
This is the story of an analysand I will call Beth.  Always feeling “different from the other kids”  Beth struggled to get through her childhood and teenaged years.  She was a blond in a dark haired family - tall and slim unlike her parents and her brother.


Thank you for your Articles

Editor: Susan Friel-Williams

Thank you all so much for your wonderful willingness to submit articles, poems, stories and ideas for the AAC Beacon.  It's been a joy getting to know all the talented people in our membership who choose to share their stories, experience, and talents with me as I compiled the newsletter.

As you can imagine, I received many more submissions that can be featured in one newsletter, so with your understanding we shall be including many of them in upcoming Beacons.  As we head to Denver in March, write down your thoughts on how the conference impacts you as an adoption constellation member and consider sharing with our readers in an upcoming newsletter.  We also love pictures, so please get/give us permission to use your favorite shots in those future issues.  See you all in Denver!
Beacon - February 2016