AAC Beacon - Mary 2016 issue
The Beacon

AAC 101 - Getting to know you 'Bingo' leads to answers!

Dore' Frances

When you have been touched by adoption, you will benefit from attending the AAC (American Adoption Conference)!

The conference has sessions designed to encourage, inform and inspire all members of the adoption community. This educational and informational event covers almost every adoption-related topic imaginable. I attended the 37th Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado in March. During the first night, there is an introduction meeting called 101. This is for everyone, whether you are new to the conference or have been there before. I have to say that I almost did not show up for the conference although I had registered and paid months in advance. It was a therapist I know who sent me the information.  Several life work happenings had me feeling as though I just wanted to stay home and isolate.

With the prompting of my caring family / friends in Utah, I was urged to attend as they know my work with adopted children and families, and it is important to me. Reluctantly I packed my bags and went. For me it was a 45 minute drive as I reside in Colorado. I was also in the midst of house hunting and just felt worn out. Being at the AAC 101 meeting was something I will never forget. It was life changing. One of the moments I will carry with me forever.


Call for Workshop Proposals

Happy Birthmother Day?

Mary Edna Wilson

Book Review -

Amory Winn

I was trying to figure out a couple of days ago how many adoption stories I’ve read over the years. The basic facts are alike in each. It’s the human spirit that makes these stories uniquely poignant. I never get tired of reading of others experiences of grappling with adoption. I learn something new with every story.

A recent edition to my library is a beautiful story of hope. Adoptee Jennifer Dyan Ghoston writes deftly of her personal journey which all adoptees will find familiar. What really hooked me on Jennifer’s story was her use of historical perspective to set the stage for her own personal growth in the midst of the civil rights chaos in our country during the 60s and 70s.

For nearly 3 decades Jennifer pursued a career in law enforcement. Just as with the back drop of the civil rights movement for putting her life as an adoptee in perspective, she was able to use her training as a police officer and eventually as a detective to put the pieces of her life together.

Her unquestioning belief in God and the trust she had in herself kept her steady on her course to discover the answers of her life.

Well written and evenly paced, you’re in for a good read. The Truth So Far is filled with insights with which
ou will be able to relate. It’s loaded with a colorful telling of the 60s and 70s, the reading and research she tirelessly pursued and tied together with the music of the times. As she grew into adulthood, Jennifer continued to seek knowledge that would help her make sense of her adoption and its impact on her life. So many of the books she mentioned were touchstones for me too and she threw in some that I’d missed somehow. More adoption stories to read is always a good thing! You’ll be humming for days after reading this book, just as your thoughts will return to Jennifer’s story and her wise words and clarifying quotes. In the spirit of the best of the 60s, “Peace Love Harmony” are the foundation and philosophy of Jennifer’s story. Enjoy!
The Truth So Far can be purchased from Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback format.

AACs 37th Annual International Conference Recap

Cynthia McGuigan

AAC’s 37th Annual International Conference “Trailblazing Change, Moving Mountains Together in Adoption” brought over two hundred attendees to the scenic and beautiful state of Colorado. AAC welcomed 85 first timers and many returning members and attendees from various states across the United States, Canada and Australia.  In the midst of the city of Denver adoptees, birth/first parents, adoptive parents, professionals, and extend family members shared positive energy, excitement and a quest to learn and gain knowledge from trailblazers and new presenters.  
AAC’s 37th Conference hosted 4 Keynote speakers and a keynote panel, 37 workshops, 2 films and a play. This year’s survey respondents indicated that they loved the format and the presentations.
Professional attendees indicted that the conference provided them information that was extremely helpful and useful. “Working in the field of adoption social work is a new specialty for me and the in-depth training I received at the conference will surely inform my practice.” Professionals felt the presenters were extremely knowledgeable.
AAC’s 2016 Vilardi Award was presented to Sandy Musser. Sandy was asked to Skype in for amazing announcement. Sandy was truly honored and surprised to receive the Emma Mae Vilardi Humanitarian for her countless years of advocacy and being a steadfast and stand-out supporter within the adoption reform community.
This year AAC presented 3 state representatives with the 2016 State Representative award. Penelope Needham, Minnesota State Representative, was honored for all her work she has accomplished in Minnesota. Penelope works with young adoptees in her state via a school program, supports groups and currently working on legislation.  Penelope told me her students were so excited about her accomplishment and requested to have a photo with her award.
AAC also recognized Erica Babino and Mary Wilson for all their hard work in Texas. Erica and Mary worked on legislation last year in Texas and have already started working on the next legislative session. Erica and Mary also began support groups in Texas in different cities.
AAC also acknowledge Desiree Stephens by presenting her with the 2016 Ambassador Award. Desiree was a huge contributor to the AAC conference by providing various technology including the interactive online conference program, ride share and conference survey.

Susan Harris-O’Connor was presented with the 2016 President’s Award. Susan was acknowledged for providing a voice for those who have not had one before in the AAC. Susan has continued to ensure that AAC moves forward in opening doors to allow new voices to move the mission of AAC and also honoring those longtime members of AAC.
On Behalf of the Board of Directors we thank all award recipients for all they do for the adoption community, their advocacy and dedication to the AAC.

We appreciate all those who responded to the 2016 conference survey.  The suggestion and feedback is greatly appreciate and used to help make modifications for the 2017 Conference. 
We hope to see you all at the 38th Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, April 5 – April 9th at Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. Workshop proposals will be accepted starting July 1st, 2016. An announcement will be sent to our members and posted on Facebook and the AAC website.

Again thank you to all the presenters and attendees for making AAC’s 37th conference a truly remarkable and memorable event.

Survey Results
78% of respondents reported being very satisfied
70% -78% satisfaction for the keynote presenters
An average 4 star rating for the conference venue
The majority of workshops satisfaction was reported at o 3-5 stars

An Unexpected Surprise!

Sandy Muesser

Forty years ago this month, I walked into a very small support group in Philadelphia called 'Adoption Forum' led by Penny Partridge. That day changed my life when I uttered the words "I gave up my baby 22 years ago". It was the beginning of a life-changing experience.
A year later, with help from ALMA, I was reunited with my daughter and along with our reunion came a peace that passes understanding - one that can't be explained, only experienced.
 In 1978 the American Adoption Congress was beginning to come together and I was fortunate enough to be part of it and became a Charter Member. My friend, Penny, was voted in as the first AAC President at the conference in DC in 1979 and I became an active and involved Lifetime Member for the next 14 years. But in 1993 when I was sent to Federal prison for breaking the law in order to reunite families (pre-Internet) our paths diverged. 


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