2017 Conference At-A-Glance
38th Annual American Adoption Congress
International Conference
Schedule At-A-Glance

NOTE:  Please be aware of times that Registration will be open.  
These times will be adhered to so those on the Registration Desk volunteers may attend workshops
Disclaimer: Please be aware that this is the latest draft schedule of the 2017 AAC Conference.
However, this information is subject to change based on a variety of factors.

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Time Workshop
Presenters/Degree Workshop Description
Wednesday - April 5, 2017
10:30 A.M.
12:00 P.M.
Town Hall    
1:00 PM
6:00 PM
3:00 PM
5:00 PM
We Welcome the State of Georgia and All Attendees to AAC!e Welcome the State of Georgia and All Attendees to AAC!   East/West Balcony depending on weather
6:30 PM
7:45 PM
AAC Welcome Pam Hasegawa, B.A.
Katalina McGlone, Ph.D.
At this pre-conference gathering you will meet and converse with AAC newcomers as well as old-timers. Join us to share your personal hopes for the time you're here, hear why others came and consider how to make the most of your time . You will leave this interactive session feeling connected and will gain some solid ideas to help you have a rich, rewarding experience.
8:00 PM
9:30 PM
Keynote:   The Neurobiological Impact of Relinquishment and Adoption: Creating a framework for   Healing.   Rob Gent This presentation will explore the neurological, psychological, and physiological impact that relinquishment from a birth parent has on development, coupled with the experience of adoption. As the impact of relinquishment can be significant in the development of the self, this presentation will provide a framework for creating healing utilizing interpersonal interactions to increase relational attunement, disrupt and resolve the cycle of shame, experience trauma resolution, establish neurobiological regulation and integration, promote positive self-concept, and increase capacity for healthy intimacy and joy.
Thursday April 6, 2017
TBD Registration
9:00 AM
10:30 AM
KEYNOTE: Changing Adoption Practices and Policies:  Implications for Adopted Children, Birthparents, Adoptive Families, and Professionals Ruth McRoy Adoption practices and policies have significantly changed over time, and it is important to understand their evolution, as well as the implications of these changes. This keynote presentation will highlight research findings on outcomes of infant and older child adoptions from foster care, openness in adoption, inracial, transracial and intercountry adoptions, and adoptions by lesbian and gay families.   Implications and recommendations for birth and adoptive family members, as well as adoption professionals, will be provided.
11:15 AM
12:30 PM
  Workshop Series 100
  Internet Searching for Family Marilyn Waugh, MA Reconnecting with family is possible if you utilize accurate, updated, and user-friendly internet sites. Marilyn will discuss how to
logically search “reliable” sites that are available to the general public for free or at minimal costs. Multiple handouts will be distributed at this workshop.
  Grieving the Loss of A Genetic Child Kris Probasco, LSCSW, LCSW One of the first losses in adoption is the loss of the genetic child for the adoptive or donor parents. Without resolution of infertility, appropriate letting go and acceptance, emotional attachment will be difficult for the parents.
  Six Word Adoption Memoirs the 2nd Andrew Tash, JD                       Derek Frank, MFA.  Motivated by Jean Strauss' workshop in 2013, giving voice to adoption experiences, Derek and Andrew invited participants at 2015 Denver AAC conference to speak about their adoption experiences, narrowing these to a Six Word Adoption Memoir. We will screen this film, talk about the filming/editing experience, invite interviewees to speak, and conduct a question/answer period for attendees.
  The Role of Information in Birthmother Experience Rachael Clemens, Ph.D. What role does information play in the birthmother experience? This in-depth study describes the experience of eight birthmothers (each participating in some flavor of "open adoption"); patterns include power, trading of trust, shame, on-going coping, and co-crises. Implications for practice are directed to practitioners but relevant to all triad members.
  When Adoptive Parenting Does Not Go As Planned Norman Thibault, Ph.D., LMF
Eric Fawson, LCSW
Thane Palmer, MS, LMFT
This clinical presentation will discuss some of the common traits and skills associated with successful clinical work with adoptive parents. Skills discussion will include working with parents in both an outdoor behavioral health and residential settings. Attendees will leave with specific interventions that they can implement in their practice when working with adoptive parents.
12:30 P.M.
2:00 P.M.
  Regional Lunch
2:15 P.M.
2:30 P.M.
  Workshop Series 200
  Birth Identity and Access:
Panel and Discussion 
Jeannie Zoppi, PhD.
Pam Hasegawa B.A.
Pete Franklin
Jennifer Ghouston 
How do you believe lack of access to birth information impacted and informed your adoption identity? What would you hope to shed if you lack access now and gain it in the future? If you know your birth family now, what aspects of your identity have shifted/changed since meeting them? What is new for you because of access and what relationships, knowledge or understanding has access brought you?
  Working with an Ethical Agency: What to Look For Kim Anderson, M. S.   The field of adoption has drastically changed over the last few years. Adoption is now turning into a baby brokering business instead of being focused on the best interest of the child. The practice of adoption works best when agencies are focused on finding families for children instead of finding babies for families. This workshop will examine the best practices in the field of adoption.
  Legislation 101 Erica Babino, B.A.
Tim Monti-Wohlpart
The workshop is a PowerPoint and interactive presentation answering the following: 1) what is adoptee rights legislation? 2) why is it important and why would someone want to volunteer to help 3) how to I start and lobby legislation, 4) importance and how to get the community involved and 5) how to manage the road blocks and pitfalls. It is for new and seasoned adoptee rights advocates.
  Healng the Dark Side of Adoption, A Case Study Thomas Ahern , M.A.
Rob Gent MA, LPC
In deeply personal fashion, Thomas will reveal the impact of relinquishment, trauma and relational dysfunction with the goal of helping others understand the life style obstacles and developmental impact of this complicated topic. He will also share his story in search, reunion, triumph.
4:15 P.M.
5:30 P.M.
  Support Groups
8:00 P.M.
10:30 P.M.
Alison Larkin LIVE! Alison Larkin Alison Larkin is an internationally acclaimed comedienne, award winning audiobook narrator and the bestselling author of The English American, an autobiographical novel about an adopted English woman who finds her birth mother - and her self – in the United States. The novel is set, in part, in Georgia.
In her poignant, hilarious new show, she talks about her adoption by British parents, her reunion with her Southern birth mother, nature, nurture, England, America, parenting all-American teenagers, women on overload - and how to make a decent cup of tea.
Alison Larkin is an internationally acclaimed comedienne, award winning audio book narrator and the bestselling author of The English American, an autobiographical novel about an adopted English woman who finds her birth mother - and her self – in the United States. The novel is set, in part, in Georgia.
In her poignant, hilarious new show, she talks about her adoption by British parents, her reunion with her Southern birth mother, nature, nurture, England, America, parenting all-American teenagers, women on overload - and how to make a decent cup of tea.
Friday April 7, 2017
TBD Registration
9:00 A.M.
10:30 A.M.
Keynote: Revealing Your Genetic Heritage With DNA Blaine Dna We will analyze how DNA can be utilized by adoptees to identify their genetic heritage, including a look into the increasing ease with which biological families are being identified. We will also look at the results of an informal study that attempts to quantify the use of DNA by adoptees in 2016. We will also see how DNA revealed an adoption in my family and how, at age 40, I discovered a brother I never knew I had.
11:15 A.M.
12:30 P.M.
  Workshop Series 300
  Roots: Healing the Neurobiology of Relinquishment Steve Sawyer, LCSW, CADC  This presentation includes cutting edge science while examining working with adopted clients through a neurobiological window. We examine 6 key biological attachment variables and the impact of implicit memories of loss associated with relinquishment from a biological parent. This will include modern parent child research from Heartmath and an overview of healing neurobiology with Brainspotting.
  Educating the Public through Media Susan Friel Williams
Amy Winn 
This workshop will discuss the different methods that the adoption constellation can use to educate the public to adoption issues. From Blogging, to Documentaries, through individual print or online reunion stories, into film and television exposure. How we can use 'entertainment' to educate the public on our issues.
  The Practical and Personal of Search and Reunion April Dinwoodie, B. A.
DAI is excited to release their new research surrounding professionals who serve as searchers for adopted persons and their biological families. Our research showed a variety of critical findings, particularly in the area of training as well understanding the full scope of the search experience for the adopted person and their biological families.
  Radical Reform & Grass Roots Activism; Achieving Adoptee Equality in Your State 'Emm' Marla Paul, B.A.
Marley Greiner, B.A., M.A.
Mirren Theiding, A.B., PhD.
Brenda Romanchik LCSW
Why Rights & Not Reunions? DNA & Internet, Why ballot initiatives aren’t fiscally feasible & why Grass Roots activism can work, Why adoptee rights organizations should be adoptee-led, the legal ramifications of sealed records outside of the immediate issue, What veto legislation & compromise mean to those left behind.
  The Importance of Building a Life Book  Miranda Rochol, B.S. We will review the important sections of a Lifebook, how to start gathering information, who to involve while you are building the Lifebook, and what options are out there to build Lifebooks. We will also focus on the conversation between the adoptive parent and child after the Lifebook is built.
12:30 P.M.
2:00 P.M.
Lunch on your own    
2:00 P.M.
3:15 P.M.
  Workshop Series 400
  One First Hand Account of Healing Adoption Trauma Ken Huey, PhD Adoption is a beautiful trauma. This workshop will look at periods in the life of the presenter as examples of some of the effects of that trauma. Using video, stories, and research, it will also propose strategies for healing. For adoptees this will resonate. For adoptive parents this will give hope. For professionals this will give a roadmap.
  Unfettered access to adoption records is near!  Katalina McGlone, PhD Learn effective advocacy with a touch of aloha. We have enough to open our records thanks to changing norms, cultural traditions, prior work of adoption advocates, court rulings and research. We removed the conditional access to records of Hawaii’s 1990 law in 2016. Act 80 gives adoptees, birth and adoptive parents unfettered access to their records when persons adopted in Hawaii are at least 18.
  Ethics in Post Adoption Services  Kim Schenkelberg I would like to present ethics in regards to the search and reunion process. It is not uncommon that those providing services to members of the adoption constellation have no knowledge of many issues related to adoption. It is more than a search. Providing support and education through the post adoption experience is integral to the overall well being and mental health of individuals involved.
  Effectively Engaging Alumi Perspectives  Shalita O'Neale,M.S.W.
Jamole Callahan , B.S.
This workshop shares insights on youth and alumni engagement and advancing the mission of your organization by including the voices of those most impacted by the work of your organization. It will focus on ways to meaningfully engage and incorporate alumni and transitioning foster youth into your organization at every level and will discuss the benefits, barriers and solutions.
  First/Birth Mother Experiences in Open Adoption April Dinwoodie, B.A,
Leslie Pate Mackinnon, LCSW
DAI is excited to release the findings of our new research study surrounding options counseling experience of first/birth mothers in the era of open adoption. This large scale study is the first of its kind to explore in depth the experiences of first/birth parents through both surveys and interviews. Professional perspectives were also obtained. Key findings and recommendations will be discussed.
3:45 P.M.
4:45 P.M.
  Support Groups
5:30 P.M.
6:30 P.M.    
7:00 P.M.
8:00 P.M.
Awards Dinner / Reception    
8:00 P.M. 
9:30 P.M.
Homeful  Amy Mihyang Ginther  What is an authentic life experience? What does a young person learn from living abroad and traveling the world? What wisdom and foolishness should be experienced in our 20s? After graduating college, Amy decides to leave US to figure out who she is and what is important. When events compel her to return to home, Amy navigates a more internal journey, redefining her relationship to roots, self and shifting communities directed by Desiree Burch. The show is autobiographical in nature. There is some offensive language and a few references to drug use. 
9:30 P.M.
DJ and Entertainment    
Saturday April 8, 2017
TBD Registration Open    
8:00 A.M.
9:30 A.M.
Keynote Thoughtful & Intentional Recruitment Language in Adoption & Foster Care Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker, PhD.
Kathy Mackechney, LCSW
Displaying pictures. Describing histories. Listing diagnoses. Mentioning hobbies. Social media posts: “I was in foster care 873 days, and today I was adopted!” These are common methods used to recruit foster/adoptive parents. The drawbacks to these approaches are numerous, including violating youth privacy and expecting potential caregivers to be educated regarding the qualities necessary to successfully parent youth from hard places. An adoptee-centric paradigm shift proposed by two adult adoptee mental health professionals who have a passion for adoptee rights includes a focus on youth privacy and recruitment language tailored to finding caregivers to match these youths’ needs.
10:15 A.M.
11:30 A.M.
  Workshop Series 500
  Beyond Legislation: Role of Institutional Policy Ana Elisa Franco, M.P.P. Discuss the ways that triad members and Professionals can influence institutional policies to promote access to records and information. Focusing on adoption agencies, we will explore what can be done outside of the legislative process to minimize secrecy and promote respect of all triad members.
  Open Adoption: A Parent's Journey Thomas Rector This workshop explains a father’s journey developing a methodology based upon current neuro-scientific research and practical application of the Biosocial Cognition Model to open adoption. The model connects elements of a child’s behavior, environmental influences that affect the child, and hones a parents’ ability to assess the child’s needs.
  What You Don't Know Can Hurt Me  Eileen Drennen, MFA
Clare Allen, B.A.
Leslie Pate Mackinnon, LCSW
Michelle Pellegri,B.A. 
This workshop will explore the importance of providing prospective birthmothers with informed, honest counseling. The social worker I got in 1976 was fresh out of college, unschooled in the realities of women and children. She confessed regret for all she had not known in 2010, when I interviewed her for my book. Unfortunately, this still happens today.
  Adoption and Relationship Addictions Daryn Watson  Addictions are very common with adoptees. Drinking, drugs, gambling and many others are very common struggles with teenage and adult adoptees. My addiction struggles were with romantic relationships. After several years of going from unhealthy relationships, I realized my dating patterns were not working anymore. I want to share my journey with others to help them see healthy relationships.
  Richard Gitelman the adoption matchmaker Debra Allen , B.S Presentation of how I stumbled upon the adoptions facilitated by Richard Gitelman an art dealer turned baby matchmaker. The games and tricks he used and the manipulation of birth mothers and adopting parents to get them to agree to the child placement. I've reunited 77 of these families to date.
11:30 A.M.
12:45 P.M.
Lunch on your own    
12:45 P.M.
2:00 P.M.
  Workshop Series 600
  Pitfalls & Promise: Open Adoption Over Time Rebecca Falco                CoPresenters TBA Most adoption professionals are trained to facilitate the “match” through finalization of the adoption. But for the newly created extended family of open adoption, the journey has just begun when the professionals’ jobs are done. From the adoptive parent’s point of view, what does open adoption look like over time? What pitfalls? What positive consequences? What education is needed?
  Core Issues of Adoption as a Normative Response Marie Dolfi, LCSW, M.S.W. Core issues of adoption (loss, identity, rejection, guilt/shame, intimacy, grief, control, abandonment, loyalty, fitting-in, entitlement, & claiming) are a normative response to relinquishment, adoption, and how professionals, society, & support systems treat adoption triad members will be discussed.
  Yes/And: Adoptee Writers on Intersectional Trauma and Identity Liz Latty
Mark L Keats
Mariama J. Lockington
Lisa Marie Rollins
This workshop will center the voices of four adult adoptee writers working to add to the canon of contemporary literature with original stories about adoption identity and experience. Through playwriting, memoir, essay, fiction, and poetry— these writers explore complex narratives engaging with queer, multiracial, and multinational identities, using an intersectional lens to push adoption discourse in new and necessary directions. As adoptees who believe in storytelling as a powerful tool for healing and building community, this workshop aligns well with the conference's theme: A March to Change: Healing Through Action. It asks participants to consider the importance of recognizing the complexity of the adoption experience, and to consider what stories comprise the dominant narratives of adoption and what stories are being buried. How can an intersectional approach to adoption trauma support healing for those living with multiple marginalized identities? How can authentic storytelling be a tool for survival and connection?
  The Impact of Infertility on Building Families by Adoption & Third Party Reproduction Phyllis Lowinger, M.S., LCSW The purpose of this workshop is to understand how infertility impacts families formed by adoption and third party reproduction. The focus of the workshop will be: Infertility: 1) A complicated loss. 2)The differences between having a child by birth from a child thru adoption and 3rd party reproduction. 3)What third party reproduction can learn from the history of adoption.
  A Family Systems Approach to Working With Families in Foster Care and Pre/Post Adoption Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao, PhD This course will present models for treatment, looking at these concerns as normal developmental crises, needing psycho-education and strategies for strength. We will explore the ethical issues after adoption for birth, foster and adoptive families. Objectives: 1) To understand the framework of my theory: The Normative Crises in the Development of the Adoptive Family. 2)To learn to understand the issues contributing to the families’ difficulty and to development of a treatment plan or template with the family. 3) To learn the models for treatment in the adoptive family for birth parents, adoptive parents, adopted people as well as for the professional who becomes a part of the bigger picture and larger system of adoption. This overview will include lecture, discussion, case example and perhaps video.
2:00 P.M.
2:15 P.M.
2:15 P.M.
3:30 P.M.
  Workshop Series 700
  Educate To Erase FASD Rebecca Tilou, B.S. This workshop will tell my story of being adopted, having closed records, relying on non-identifying info for my health. Getting diagnosed with FAS at 34 years old. This is one reason open records and original birth certificates is soooo important. I will show my YouTube video of my life with FAS.
  Post-Placement Care- A seminar by Ashley Mitchell Ashley Mitchell  Ashley Mitchell is sharing the forward movement of post-placement support for mothers that lose their children to adoption, that make a choice to place or that are found in a position to relinquish their rights due to state forced termination. " The pain doesn't stop because we become more educated, but the healing can become more effective." -Ashley Mitchell, Owner BTG.
  If You Are Not Your Experience, Then Who are You? Nancy Verrier, LMFT In the case of relinquishment the experience of being separated from one another is such a devastating trauma for both mother and child that it seems to color every aspect of ensuing relationships. Added to this for the adoptee is the dilemma of fitting into a non-genetic family. This workshop is designed to learn ways to become aware of the beliefs that influence attitudes, feelings, and behaviors, to challenge the beliefs and to integrate those experiences into the reality of who you truly are.
  I Can Tell My Own Story Angela Sharp. M.A. The artist will introduce 'From the Inside Out: Navigating Transnational and Transracial Adoption' an interactive, non-linear dialog between the adoptee and her North American mother, her South American birth mother, and the founder of her orphanage el Buen Pastor. Oral history interviews, videos, and documents on this website highlight the messiness, love, and politics of transnational adoption.
  Where The Rubber Hits the Road: Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adopted Tweens and Teens Susan Merkel, M.S.W.  Societal changes during the past thirty years have led to greater acceptance of adoption as a family building plan and considerable changes within the adoption industry. While the numbers of adopted children in the United States is estimated at 1.5Million, and international adoptions tripled between 1992 and 2002, stigma and misunderstanding of adoptees continues to be a challenge in schools, and within the mental and medical health communities. Identity formation for adoptees, a primary developmental task during adolescence, is more complicated due to the dual role of genetically based identity tasks and psychological adjustment tasks related to their biological family. Teen and tween adoptees who feel marginalized and isolated areat greater risk for depression and maladaptive coping behaviors. Transracial internationally adoptees face additional complications in identity formation related to racial and ethnic marginalization. This interactive presentation will introduce attachment theory and positive identity concepts; the unique developmental tasks adoptees face during their tween and teen years; and the importance of cultural heritage for all adoptees.
4:00 P.M.
5:15 P.M.
Six Word Memoir Film  Andrew Tash, JD
Derek Frank, MFA. 
Motivated by Jean Strauss' workshop in 2013, giving voice to adoption experiences, Derek and Andrew invited participants at 2015 Denver AAC conference to speak about their adoption experiences, narrowing these to a Six Word Adoption Memoir. We will screen this film, talk about the filming/editing experience, invite interviewees to speak, and conduct a question/answer period for attendees.