February 2017 (Conference, Nominations and More)
The Beacon

Is 2017 the Year Texas Adoptees Finally Get Their Original Birth Certificates?

Alicia Lanier, Co-Founder, TxCARE


Texas adoptee rights advocates are optimistic that this year they will win the decades-long fight to grant adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates.

Two companion bills, Texas S.B. 329 and H.B. 547, have been filed early in the 2017 session of the Texas Legislature and allow adoptees – or their adult descendant or sibling, surviving spouse or adoptive parent - to receive a noncertified copy of their original birth certificates after age 18.

Both bills allow biological parents to indicate their choice for direct contact with the adoptee, no contact, or contact through an intermediary.


38th Annual American Adoption Congress Conference

Susan Friel-Williams

Greetings!  Can you believe it’s just a few short weeks until we’re all together in Atlanta for the 38th American Adoption Congress International Conference?   It’s a great hotel, with friendly staff and a cool outdoor area with patios for chatting between sessions. (There’s a Pizza place next door too!)

I just wanted to remind you that we have just a couple of weeks before the end of early registration.  Close off date is February 15th, at 5 P.M. Eastern Standard Time.  If you’d like to take advantage of our early registration discount, now is the time to visit our  registration page  and secure your spot!

Nomination and Elections Announced

Amy Winn

Your AAC is beginning this new year in great transition. As with all such transitions, there are great challenges and I’m calling on all you wonderful members of vision to help us shape the AAC of the future. Just as we are preparing to make the transition to having an Executive Director, we are also in need of board members to fill the vital roles of our changing focus and commitments.
Below is a list of the current open board positions. Some are familiar, some are geared for creating our future foundation. All positions are vital to the continued growth of our great organization.
The process to apply for a position is simple. The application is on our Website. Along with the completed application you’ll need to furnish a resume and two references who can speak to your skills for your chosen position. Once all of this is received, the Nominations Committee will contact you to set up a phone interview.
New board members will be announced on the 23rd of February and officially seated at the annual board meeting at the conference in April. You can ask all related questions during your interview with the Nominations Committee.


Beacon Policy

Susan Friel-Williams

The Beacon is the AAC Publication that allows our members to highlight their papers, articles, poems, reunion stories and other adoption relevant news.  Articles are requested for submission in the Beacon several times per year.  While our editorial volunteers do check for spelling or grammatical errors as a courtesy to the authors, it is not standard practice for our publication to gain 'permission' from anyone mentioned in an article submitted by an independent author. Instead we encourage our authors to notify and obtain permission from those individuals they are writing about, and notify them which periodical they will be publishing in.

DNA is Revolutionizing How Adoptees Identify Biological Family

Blaine T. Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D.

Genetic genealogy is the use of DNA to learn about one’s ancestry. Most genetic genealogy tests provide an ethnicity estimate, which is mostly for entertainment purposes, and a list of genetic relatives in the testing company’s database.

Since these tests provide a list of genetic relatives, many thousands of adoptees have taken tests from companies like 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and Family Tree DNA in hopes of identifying biological family members.

However, no one has yet quantified the success – or failure – of DNA by these adoptees. In one of the first studies of its kind, I asked adoptees in several different social media DNA groups to answer a short series of questions about their use of DNA and how it has helped them in their search. These participants, who so graciously donated their time, have all taken DNA tests in the last two years. Due to the exploding size of the testing databases within the past two years, it was important to ask these recent test-takers in order to get a snapshot of what a test-taker today might expect or experience.

As of January 1st, more than 1,000 adoptees had responded to the survey. The results are eye-opening.


New Article

Jane Edwards

Although adoption experts—the Donaldson Adoption Institute, the Child Welfare League of America, and others--agree that children should be raised in their biological families if possible,[1] state laws are tilted to increasing the supply of infants for adoption resulting in the unnecessary separation of mothers and children. These laws allow mothers to consent to adoption before or immediately after birth with little or no opportunity to revoke their consent and with little or no counseling. Open adoptions agreements which may encourage mothers to relinquish are often unenforceable.[2] Unmarried fathers have few rights.   
Those of us interested in reforming adoption so that it coincides with its original purpose—to find families for children who need them—are faced with well-funded and well-organized opposition from the adoption industry. While adoption is governed mostly by state laws, adoption reform must occur nation-wide. Otherwise, those who put profit before child welfare will simply move their operations to “adoption-friendly” states.
Adoption reform organizations throughout the country must come to a consensus about adoption laws so that they speak in one voice to state legislators and the media. Over the past several years I’ve worked with natural parents, adoptees, adoptive parents, and an adoption attorney in Oregon to develop an outline for sound adoption laws. Its goals are to avoid the unnecessary separation of families; however, if adoption is necessary, to protect the finality of placements while assuring the best possible situation for the child and the adoptive and natural families. I offer it as a starting point for those committed to adoption reform.  


The Bastard Chronicles: An Anthology: Book Review

Susan Friel-Williams

A funny thing happened at the Denver Conference in 2016.  Marley Grenier and Emm Paul from Bastard Nation decided to crash the conference fully expecting lots of hate and opposition from the attendees.  Instead, what we 'all' discovered is that even though our organizations, the AAC and Bastard Nation have not always been cooperative and may not have had the same stated goals, once we were in a room together we discovered that our overall mission of OBC access for all was almost identical.  Will wonders never cease!

We enjoyed their participation so much that we encouraged them to join us in Atlanta, and actually present and take part in the conference, and we're happy to announce that they will be present.  (They throw great parties too!)



Denise Emanuel Clemen

“His name is Cory,” the woman on the phone says. I write it down, spelling it out as she repeats it. I write his last name, his address, and his phone number. The rest of the day the same thought repeats: I know my son’s name.


There were many things I was unprepared for when I relinquished my son. A naive 17-year-old, I believed the secret I carried would grow lighter, not heavier. I believed the pain of separation would fade. I believed the poster I saw in the adoption agency’s office. “Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life,” was a harbinger of my new beginning. All of this was wrong.


I got married. I had other children.

Sixteen years after I gave birth to my son, I had a daughter.

“Two girls,” people would say, when the second daughter arrived. “Are you going to try for a boy?”

“Maybe,” I’d say, keeping my secret.

Beacon - February 2017 (Conference, Nominations and More)