Welcome to the November issue of The Beacon.
Please join us in celebrating National Adoption Awareness Month, and feel free to share our newsletter with friends, family and co-workers by using the links at the bottom.
With warm regards,
Susan Bennett & The Beacon Team
If you are an AAC member, watch for the next issue of The Decree arriving in your mailbox this December.
If you're not a member yet, won't you consider joining us this month and receive 20% off your new membership?
A special thank you to Leah, Patty, and Reporter, Denise Emanuel Clemen.
If you have a story idea, we'd love to hear from you, or if you have a comment or question, contact us at AACBeacon@gmail.com.
and Save The Date!
"Mile High Expectations: Adoption in 2012" AAC's 33rd annual conference will be held in Denver, Colorado.
Save the date: April 26 - 29, 2012
We are excited to announce that Pekitta Tynes, Commedienne will be performing live Saturday night at the conference.
Pekitta has opened for popular comedians, including Martin Lawrence.
Pekitta is one of the 100 memorable adoptees in the book, Finding Our Place. She currently lives in Las Vegas. Click on her picture to learn about her adoption connection.
Consider joining us for this one of a kind International Conference to be held at The Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, a beautiful hotel right in the middle of everything.
Join this month @ 20% off and you will also receive a substantial discount for this conference!
Be sure to check out the AAC Calendar of Events from our homepage for all the upcoming activities.
AAC Adoption News and Views
Our live Internet talk-radio show is a great success! People from all over have clicked in to listen to host Pam Kroskie discuss adoption news and views. This show can also be listened to afterward at anytime.
Pam's most recent guests include Adam Pertman and Patrick McMahon, with Brian Stanton visiting just last week. Brian's next performance of BLANK is listed below in our Calendar Events.
If you missed Brian or any of the shows, you can listen by going to our link on Blog Talk Radio by clicking here:
Have an idea for a show topic?
We love feedback; email Pam at pkroskieAAC@gmail.com
The next show is
November 18 @ 1 pm EST with
Pam Kroskie serves on the AAC Board and also as the Midwest Regional Director.
Adoption on TV
Have you noticed that most TV shows this season have an adoption-related storyline? Many people have and the blogosphere has been discussing it as well.
We thought you might like to join in the conversation. Here are a few blogs we've found:
The Declassified Adoptee: Should GLEE do a PSA on Adoption?
You can also visit us on Facebook to talk about this and other issues.
Join in November,
National Adoption Awareness Month, and receive a 20% discount off of a new membership!
You'll be all set to register for the conference in January and receive a special rate.
Help support the cause: consider a donation today.
Here is a follow-up to a recent story in The Beacon. If you recall in our last issue, Beni (a Seymour Fenichel adoptee) and her adoptive mother, Lois (also an adoptee), were both searching for biological roots. (From August 1, A Shared Story.)
Beni has found her first mother, named Louise.
An Open Adoption Story
Denise Emanuel Clemen
“I remember thinking everyone gave away a baby,” Gabrielle Caswell says.
Now 19, Gabrielle has always known she was adopted. When she was a little girl, her adoptive parents gave her a photo album that included a picture of her birth mother holding Gabrielle in the hospital and told her that her birth mother kept her by her side for an entire day before giving her up.
Because of the openness of her adoptive parents, Gabrielle has always been willing to talk about her adoption. “I told everyone, even strangers,” she says. “I remember being at an overnight camp when I was young and we were playing a game where you tell two truths and a lie and have your partner guess which tale was the lie and I used to always say, ‘I have four parents, and none of them are step parents!’ ”
As she got older, Gabrielle learned other details of her birth and her adoption: that her birth mother chose her adoptive mother, that her birth mother used to call her adoptive mother just so she could listen to Gabrielle’s heartbeat, that her birth mother felt she had to give up her baby daughter due to severe personal and financial problems. “My birth father’s health started rapidly deteriorating. She was working part time and on state aid and already raising a toddler,” Gabrielle explains.
In addition to having information about her birth mother, Gabrielle also knew that she had an older half-sister and an older sister. When she was about 12, Gabrielle learned that she also had a little brother. Although Gabrielle considers her adoption to be an open adoption, that openness didn't always extend to her birth siblings' awareness of her. On Christmas morning when Gabrielle was 13, her older sister first learned of her existence and surprised her with a phone call. “It was the best Christmas present I’ve ever received. I couldn’t have been happier,” Gabrielle says.
After that, the lines of communication began to resemble a more standard open adoption. While there's no legal definition of open adoption, it's considered to be one in which the adopted child is able to develop a one-on-one direct relationship with members of the birth family, according to Insight, an open-adoption resources and support network.
After the Christmas phone call, Gabrielle began talking on the phone and chatting online with her sisters and her birth mother.
When she was 16, Gabrielle decided she wanted to meet her birth family. “I was already in therapy because I was struggling with some depression that was unrelated so I brought my parents in and we started discussing the possibility. My parents were completely supportive. They had no problem with it at all and encouraged my curiosity. My family had already planned on going on vacation to Florida that spring and that is where my biological family lives so we made plans to meet for lunch at a restaurant.”
The meeting did more than satisfy Gabrielle’s curiosity. “It was amazing,” she recounts. “I got to meet my birth mother, half-sister, older sister, and little brother. I couldn’t believe how much we looked alike, how similar our mannerisms were, even some of our interests! I was so happy.” She is now preparing to meet other members of her birth family and her birth father, who was unable to participate in the initial reunion due to health problems.
Gabrielle feels an immense relief that she has been able to meet her birth family. She believes that open adoption should almost always be considered as an option. Her characterization of herself sets her apart from many adoptees who had closed adoptions. “I never felt lost," Gabrielle says, “I never felt confused about where I came from or why I was given up. I never felt unwanted or unloved and my adoption has never brought me pain. I feel like many people with closed adoptions don’t get to experience that … I have a relationship with my biological siblings, I have health information that many adoptees never have, I know where I come from and who I look like. I know so much. I hope, with all my heart, that most adoptees will be able to say that.”
Since only seven U.S. states currently allow adult adoptees unrestricted access to their original birth certificates, the fulfillment of Gabrielle’s wish could be a long time coming.
Gabrielle Caswell is from Rockville , Maryland.
More information about Insight may be found at: http://www.openadoptioninsight.org/index.html
Denise Emanuel Clemen blogs about adoption from the birth mother point of view at http://deniseemanuelclemen.blogspot.com/
ACCESS CONNECTICUT is Gearing Up!
ACCESS CONNECTICUT has been gearing up for the next legislative session in February 2012 to pass OBC access legislation in Connecticut. The group's members have been very active doing public events to bring awareness to their cause.
The ACCESS CONNECTICUT booth/exhibit at the Durham Fair was a big success! Over the four days of the fair, hundreds of people were informed on OBC laws, most unaware that upon adoption original birth certificates get sealed. Names of support and contact information was shared, hopefully increasing attendance at monthly meetings. (Pictured are L to R; Anna-Marie Kerkes, Carolyn Goodridge, Paul Schibbelhute, and Marion Conklin.)
Paul Schibbelhute said, "We couldn't have done it without a great team. We had Dick and Eileen McQuade, Jane Servadio, Marion Conklin, Barbara Pasternak, Carolyn Goodridge, Gia and her mom Nikki Pallone, Anna-Maria Kerkes and Diane Jowdy. And from Rhode Island, Nancy Horgan drove in to help us out."
At a recent UCONN football game, members held their banner for several hours before the game hoping to educate passers-by. (Pictured below are Paul Schibbelhute and Anna-Marie Kerkes.)
On Nov.12, for anyone wishing to join, there will be a sign-waving event in Greenwich, CT at the YMCA. Please check the website for updates and more events.
Great efforts ACCESS CONNECTICUT! May you be as successful as Rhode Island, making CT the eighth state to pass unrestricted OBC legislation.
Book Club Corner
Our November Book Club Corner selection is~
"Good Girls Don't" by Patti Hawn
“When I made the decision to write the letter to the son I said good-bye to 40 years ago,” says Patti “little did I know that I would begin the most profound journey of my life.Although I made a promise to never interfere I broke my word and opened a door which led me into a place where finally I’m forced to confront my truth. Thus began a journey that started on the day I gave my baby away and led me through a lifetime of choices unknowingly borne out of this early experience.
It seems I’ve spent much of my life in search of answers – without ever really knowing the questions.”
Click here to order today.
To learn more about the book and Patti, please visit her website,
If you are interested in having your book highlighted in the AAC Book Club Corner, or on our website, write to us at AACBeacon@gmail.com.
View AAC's entire Recommended Reading book list.