Registration & Event Details

Event Information

We’ll kick off this groundbreaking summit with registration and entertainment starting at 5:00pm Thursday, March 30th. Start Friday or Saturday with a little relaxation time with Yoga or Tai Chi before breakfast at 8:00am. Friday begins with our keynote panel representing experiences from the three communities: adoption, assisted reproduction, and NPE. There are three time slots with five different panels, speakers, creative workshops, and therapeutic options. During lunch and breaks, meet new folks, reconnect with friends, or engage with authors and podcasters. All day Friday we have a special day planned for significant others. We’ll end the day with an hour of comedy. Saturday starts with our plenary speaker, Paul Joseph Fronczak, followed by three time slots again with five different choices with plenty of time to connect with everyone. We’ll end with an exercise to rejuvenate. There’s also a quiet room staffed with volunteer therapists for those moments when you may need a space to take a break. We can’t wait to see you!

Authors, Podcasters, and Exhibitors – Thursday

Thursday – March 30, 2023

5:00pm-7:00pm | Pre-function area

Come meet your favorite author and podcaster or preview what our exhibitors have to offer.

Registration – Thursday

Thursday – March 30, 2023

5:00pm-8:00pm | Pre-function Area

Drop by and check-in for the conference. Pick up your name tag, schedule, and goodie bag. Hang out and meet friends in person.

Additional Info

NAAP and RTK are excited to kick-off this inaugural event. We are here to unite the adoption, assisted reproduction, and non-paternal event communities into one amplified voice; advance awareness and education; seek truth and healing; and foster connections and understanding. We know together we stand stronger.

Presented by

avatar Marcie Keithley

Marcie Keithley

President & Co-founder, NAAP

Marcie’s background includes sales, management, operations, team development and leadership. She has served on a variety of boards such as Habitat for Humanity, United Way, Kiwanis International and Executive Director for her local Chamber of Commerce. She’s a First Mother in reunion since 2008, an adoptive mom, co-founded the Indiana Adoptee Network, and has testified multiple times over the years in support of original birth certificate (OBC) access. She also hosts a weekly Friday night virtual event, Adoption Happy Hour, with global attendance from the adoption constellation. Keithley is the author of The ShoeBox Effect, Transforming Pain Into Fortitude and Purpose as well as the co-author of Frankie and Friends Talk Adoption.

avatar Jennifer Fahlsing

Jennifer Fahlsing

Vice President, Secretary, and Co-founder, NAAP

Jennifer resides in Indiana and she recently retired after working 20 years in the employment industry and is a licensed real estate Broker. She holds a BS in Business Management and her background includes education, training, sales, operations, and public speaking. As an Adoptee and First Mother she has a unique understanding of the challenges involved in search and the gamut of emotions experienced in reunion. In 2013, after three decades of searching she located both her mother and son within a 3-month period. In 2018, after years of rejection she finally reunited with her father days before his death. She has served on the board for the ISSA, joined Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records in 2015, and testified in 2015, 2016 and 2021 in support of OBC access legislation for Indiana Adoptees. In 2018, Jennifer was the recipient of the Angel in Adoption award.

avatar Beth Steury

Beth Steury

Treasurer, NAAP

Beth brings a background in administration, bookkeeping, event planning, marketing, community relations, and writing to NAAP’s passionate commitment to serve all persons touched by adoption. While she spent most of her life on the sidelines of the adoption community, the unfolding of her own foundling-beginnings story awakened a desire to be involved beyond her personal experiences. As a search angel, she delves into DNA to pay forward to other adoptees the gift of finding long-searched-for answers. Her journey of connecting with biological family is chronicled at BethSteury.com. She also addresses relevant topics in her fiction and non-fiction series for young adults. Beth and her husband reside in Indiana.

avatar Kara Rubinstein Deyerin

Kara Rubinstein Deyerin

CEO & Co-founder, RTK

Kara is a non-practicing attorney with an LLM in Taxation and a master’s in Trade & Investment Policy from George Washington University. In January 2018, she wanted to see where in Africa her father’s family came from. Her over-the-counter DNA test revealed she was 50% something but she had zero African DNA. This meant the man on her birth certificate couldn’t possibly be her genetic father. She lost her bi-racial identity with the click of a mouse. Kara discovered she was 50% Ashkenazi Jew. The DNA pandora’s box she opened led to an identity crisis. She’s a passionate advocate for genetic identity rights. Read her blog about being Unexpectedly Jewish in Seattle.

Drinks, Hor d’oeuvres, & Entertainment – Thursday

Thursday – March 30, 2023

6:00-8:30pm+ | Pre-function Area & Ball Room

After you register, mingle with friends, have a drink, nosh and stay for the amazing entertainment.

Additional Info

Open mic from 6:00pm-7:30pm to share your short story, poem, or song (no musical instruments available). From 7:30pm-8:30pm we have a fabulous treat created by Brian Stanton (adoptee) and Corey Goodrich (NPE). 

Presented by

avatar Brian Stanton

Brian Stanton

Brian Stanton is a Los Angeles-based stage actor who is most known for his original solo play BLANK, the true story of his adoption and search for identity. BLANK’s Hollywood premiere catapulted Stanton to perform all over the US and Canada, earning Best Solo Acting awards in New York and Los Angeles. Stanton’s most recent work @ghostkingdom, originally written as a play, was filmed during the pandemic due to theatre closures. Stanton has held screenings of his original film at film festivals as well as for adoption support and educational conferences. The Love International Film Festival honored Stanton with Best Screenwriter and Best Actor awards.

avatar Cory Goodrich

Cory Goodrich

Born in Wilmington, Delaware and raised in Clarkston, Michigan, Cory Goodrich is a Jeff Award winning actress for her roles as Mother in Drury Lane Oakbrook’s acclaimed production of Ragtime, and as June Carter Cash in the Jeff nominated Johnny Cash revue, Ring of Fire at Mercury Theater Chicago, where she was also seen as Alice in The Addams Family, and Alma in The Christmas Schooner, and Carol Brady in the hilarious war between the Partridges and the Bradys in The Bardy Bunch. Most recently, Cory has been seen at Drury Lane as the onstage accordion player in Evita, and at the newly renovated Studebaker Theatre in the premiere of Skates, a New Musical, starring American Idol’s Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young.

A five time Jeff nominee, Cory has performed in productions at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Chicago Shakespeare, Theatre at the Center, Ravinia, Candlelight and Drury Lane. A Graduate of Michigan State University, she is also a singer/songwriter, producer, writer, and mother of two, children’s composer with her two award winning CDs, Hush and Wiggly Toes, and three solo folk albums: W.O.M.A.N, Wildwood Flower, a collection of traditional and original folk songs featuring the autoharp, and her latest project, Long Way Around, produced by Ethan Deppe of The Quiet Regret. She is co-producer of six Season of Carols CDs (Season of Carols, Holiday Music to Benefit Season of Concern, which garnered over $200K for the charity.) and The Second City Divas, Live at Mercury Theater CD with Eugene Dizon.

Her memoir, Folksong: A Ballad of Death, Discovery, and DNA is available on Amazon.

Yoga – Friday

Friday – March 31, 2023

7:00am-8:00am | TBD

Start off your day by focusing your mind and body to move into a relaxed state before the conference day starts in full swing.

Authors, Podcasters, and Exhibitors – Friday

Friday – March 31, 2023

8:00am-9:00am, noon-1:30pm, 3:00pm-3:45pm | Pre-function area

Come meet your favorite author and podcaster or preview what our exhibitors have to offer.

Breakfast, Icebreakers, and Welcome – Friday

Friday – March 31, 2023

8:00am-9:00am | Pre-function Area Ball Room

Join us for breakfast and take a few moments to meet other conference attendees.

Additional Info

Our MC Pekitta Tynes will entertain and help us in getting to know one another. She’ll be awarding prizes throughout the hour. Beverages available throughout the day.

Presented by

avatar Pekitta Tynes

Pekitta Tynes

Pekitta Tynes is a Professional Comedienne, an Adoptee, a Foster Child, Foundling, and the author of the book titled “Thank God I Was Adopted ‘Cause DNA Is No Joke! Pekitta uses humor to share her search experience and her journey to finding her biological connection in-spite of life’s obstacles. Her experience will inspire, motivate and encourage audiences to never give up on their search and provide insight into why searching was necessary, what was the motivation to search, why giving up the search was not an option, and why DNA is no joke. She is one of the 100 Memorable Adoptees in the book Finding Our Place written by Nikki McCaslin with Richard Uhrlaub and Marilyn Grotzky. Pekitta has lived in Las Vegas, NV for 18-years but now resides in Sacramento, CA. Pekitta holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

avatar Marcie Keithley

Marcie Keithley

President & Co-founder, NAAP

Marcie’s background includes sales, management, operations, team development and leadership. She has served on a variety of boards such as Habitat for Humanity, United Way, Kiwanis International and Executive Director for her local Chamber of Commerce. She’s a First Mother in reunion since 2008, an adoptive mom, co-founded the Indiana Adoptee Network, and has testified multiple times over the years in support of original birth certificate (OBC) access. She also hosts a weekly Friday night virtual event, Adoption Happy Hour, with global attendance from the adoption constellation. Keithley is the author of The ShoeBox Effect, Transforming Pain Into Fortitude and Purpose as well as the co-author of Frankie and Friends Talk Adoption.

avatar Kara Rubinstein Deyerin

Kara Rubinstein Deyerin

CEO & Co-founder, RTK

Kara is a non-practicing attorney with an LLM in Taxation and a master’s in Trade & Investment Policy from George Washington University. In January 2018, she wanted to see where in Africa her father’s family came from. Her over-the-counter DNA test revealed she was 50% something but she had zero African DNA. This meant the man on her birth certificate couldn’t possibly be her genetic father. She lost her bi-racial identity with the click of a mouse. Kara discovered she was 50% Ashkenazi Jew. The DNA pandora’s box she opened led to an identity crisis. She’s a passionate advocate for genetic identity rights. Read her blog about being Unexpectedly Jewish in Seattle.

Welcome & Keynote Speaker Panel – Friday

Friday – March 31, 2023

9:00am-10:45am | Ball Room

Three talented authors tell their MPE stories and discuss the impacts of their unique origins on their lives then and now.

Additional Info

We’re kicking off the conference with a bang with a keynote panel moderated by Kara Rubinstein Deyerin featuring Bill Griffeth who had an NPE.

Presented by

avatar Astrid Castro

Astrid Castro

Astrid (she/her/hers) is the founder and CEO of Adoption Mosaic. Adoption Mosaic is a BIPOC woman and adoptee-led business that seeks to build an inviting adoption conscious community by providing innovative adoptee-centered programs and support. Her life-long interest in adoption is rooted in her own adoption at the age of four from Colombia (along with her older sister). Astrid has been in reunion with her birth family in Colombia since December 2011. Astrid has a degree in sociology with an emphasis in adoption. Since 1992, she has traveled the country to lead adoptee youth groups, present workshops on transracial parenting, talking with children about adoption, and various other workshops focusing on adoption. Astrid has also worked in both the private and public sectors of various adoption organizations. Astrid’s personal experiences as an adoptee, a woman of color, and growing up in a white family and community, fuel her professional path to helping others.

ADOPTIONMOSAIC.COM

avatar Chrysta Bilton

Chrysta Bilton

An American writer and memoirist, she authored “Normal Family: The Surprising Truth About My Crazy Childhood.” Her memoir is a captivating coming-of-age story about her reckoning with the secrets both parents had carefully kept from her. Her writing has also appeared in The Guardian, Literary Hub, and Newsweek. She lives in L.A. with her husband and two children.

www.chrystabilton.com

avatar Christine Jacobsen

Christine Jacobsen

Christine Jacobsen is a multi-disciplinary artist sharing her debut memoir, Dancing Around the Truth. Her website and blog contain opinion pieces and samples of the themes she is exploring. Christine has acted, danced, and produced film and theatre. After spending a decade in the performing arts, she earned a Master’s in Counseling from Long Island University. She writes from New York State with her husband, Angelo. Her debut memoir, Dancing Around the Truth was inspired by a DNA testing surprise, which left Christine asking herself, “Who Am I?” When she isn’t writing, Christine enjoys creating visual arts pieces, reading and hiking.

christinefromqueens.com

Therapy Room – Friday

Friday – March 31, 2023

11:00am-5:00pm | Rockbridge Executive Board Room

Some of the topics we’ll be discussing may be triggering and we want to ensure everyone has a quiet safe space to recoup.

Additional Info

Licensed mental health professionals are volunteering their time to help conference attendees should a topic, discussion, or comment raise uncomfortable or difficult feelings or memories.   

Speaker Workshops – Friday

Friday – March 31, 2023

11:00am-noon | various rooms

You will have four fabulous topics to choose from during this one-hour speaker time slot. Significant others who attend the conference will participate in their own breakout session during this time.

Additional Info

Minefields: Communicating in High Conflict Situations
We anticipate that most people are reasonable and operate just like we do; however, it’s truly a crap shoot. Will the person we’re reaching out be reasonable or have a high conflict personality? Learn methods for calming and teaching emotion self-management.
Megan Hunter, MBA

DNA Search Angels to the Rescue
Learn about the tools DNA search angels use to assist adoptees, donor conceived, NPEs and others searching for their biological families. Understand what you should do to help your Search Angel and how to avoid pitfalls. We’ll also share some DNAngels’ cases to inspire you.
Aimee Rose Haynes, Jennifer Schweibinz, Kate Penney Howard, and Kelly Grace Hickey

How to Be an Effective Legislative Advocate
Tips on how to find, educate and equip the right bill sponsor; create strong, concise talking points; coordinate powerful committee testimony; neutralize opposition; and strategize passage of legislation based on bills that passed unanimously and some that went down in flames.
Rich Uhrlaub

Weaving Your Unraveled Past Self into Your Present & Future
How many humans does it take to make a Family? Families today have blossomed to all shapes and sizes. Using narrative therapy and portraiture, we design a container to hold ‘the child’ and tell the truth about origins and ancestors.
Joyce Maguire Pavao, Ed.D., LCSW, LMFT

Self Care While Supporting Your Partner’s Genetic Journey
This can be an emotional time for everyone. Discover tools for self-care and support for your partner while they navigate a DNA surprise or the question of reunion.
Bill Mackinnon

Presented by

avatar Megan Hunter

Megan Hunter

Megan Hunter, MBA, is co-founder and CEO of the High Conflict Institute along with author and speaker, Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. who developed the high-conflict personality theory. Megan developed the concept of the Institute after 13 years in policy, legislation and judicial training with the Arizona Supreme Court, Administrative Office of the Courts and 5 years with the Dawes County Attorney’s Office in Nebraska. She is also founder of Unhooked Books Publishing. She leads a team across three continents to bring training and resources on high conflict disputes worldwide.

Megan has trained professionals across a wide spectrum of industries in the U.S. and in eight other countries. Megan holds an MBA and a B.S. in Business and Economics. She has served as President of the Arizona Chapter of the Association of Family & Conciliation Courts, and the Arizona Family Support Council and Nebraska Child Support Enforcement Association. She served 5 years on the Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners and is currently on the Stepfamily Magazine Advisory Board.

She is the author and/or co-author of several books on high conflict interactions.

avatar Aimee Rose Haynes

Aimee Rose Haynes

DNAngels

Aimee is the Associate Director of Staffing and Lead Genetic Genealogist for DNAngels, and also serves on DNAngels’ Board as Liaison to Staff.  Aimee comes to DNAngels with a medical background and was previously an officer and board member of a non-profit organization focused on the elderly and children.  Aimee leads the team of Angels and has helped to develop our training and mentorship programs. 

In 2014, she became interested in the study of autosomal DNA (focusing on single nucleotide polymorphisms) in search of a diagnosis for her daughter who has a rare medical disorder. Between Aimee’s diligence and finding the right specialists, her daughter was finally able to be tested and appropriately treated. 

In her spare time, Aimee enjoys photography, roller coasters, and visiting Cedar Point amusement park with her family. She currently lives in Kentucky with her husband and two daughters.  She takes great pride and feels blessed to share her knowledge and gifts in helping families reunite, answer questions, and ensure each client does not feel alone in their journey.

avatar Jennifer Schweibinz

Jennifer Schweibinz

DNAngels

Jennifer is a Search Angel and volunteer with DNAngels. Jennifer found her love for Genealogy when she stumbled across an old family secret. As she rolled up her sleeves and tapped into her Jersey Girl stubbornness, she relentlessly worked until she found answers. After that, Jennifer found herself volunteering as intake manager for an organization that could teach her a more methodical approach to being a Search Angel. When that organization merged with DNAngels, Jennifer was welcomed to the new team with open arms, and enjoys every moment of it.

In her personal life, Jennifer lives with her husband Mark. They have four sons together. She grew up in a close-knit, supportive family, and loves when the entire crowd gets together for barbecues in the backyard.

Jennifer’s love language is Acts of Service, which she attributes to her appreciation for everyone that reaches out to DNAngels looking for help.

avatar Kate Penney Howard

Kate Penney Howard

DNAngels

Kate is a Genetic Genealogist and volunteer with DNAngels  She is a full-time pastor, wife, and mother.   She earned her Master of Divinity from Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, IN. 

She volunteers to do Search Angel work out of love for others, and a desire to bring healing and wholeness to them.  She loves learning about different places and cultures, and she feels that through this process, she becomes a part of each person’s family who blesses her with the opportunity to become part of their story.

Kate is not only compassionate and caring she has a wonderful sense of humor.  In her free time, she enjoys gardening, canning, and DIY projects.   She lives with her husband, Preston, her Weimaraner Lucy, and her Roomba, Rosie.

avatar Kelly Grace Hickey

Kelly Grace Hickey

DNAngels

Kelly is the Associate Director of Administration for DNAngels and an Original Founding Member.  She also serves on the Board as Secretary.  She met Laura Olmsted in November 2018 when they were paired together as search angels for a support group. 

Kelly Grace lives in a rural town south of Atlanta with her husband, Len, and her clowder of special needs cats.  She has many years of experience tracking down missing people.  She began in 1995 tracking down retired podiatrists for the APMA.   She now works as a Family Law and Estate Paralegal.  She can now add the tale of her conception to her collection of odd paternity stories.

In her free time, she enjoys photography, traveling, her Lime Green Jeep, Tudor history, the Beatles, hats and car selfies, word etymology, making vats of homemade spaghetti sauce, and good chocolate.

avatar Rich Uhrlaub, M.Ed.

Rich Uhrlaub, M.Ed.

Coalition for Truth and Transparency in Adoption (CTTA)

Rich serves as president of the Coalition for Truth and Transparency in Adoption (CTTA) and Adoption Search Resource Connection (ASRC). He is part of an advocacy team that has seen over 15 Colorado bills signed into law since 2014 to the benefit of adult adoptees, foster youth, birth/first parents, and donor conceived persons. A frequent presenter at digital and in-person conferences, Rich’s interviews and writings have been published in various news outlets and peer-reviewed books.

www.adoptiontruthandtransparency.org

avatar Joyce Maguire Pavao, Ed.D., LCSW, LMFT

Joyce Maguire Pavao, Ed.D., LCSW, LMFT

Pavao Consulting & Coach

Joyce Maguire Pavao, Ed.D., LCSW, LMFT, was the Founder and CEO of Center For Family Connections, Inc. (CFFC – est. 1995-2012) in Cambridge, MA and New York.  Pavao Consulting and Coaching, and Pre/Post Adoption Consulting and Training 1982-present

Dr. Pavao has done extensive training, both nationally and internationally.  She is an adjunct faculty member in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and has consulted to various public and private agencies, schools, and the court system.  Additionally, she has worked closely with individuals, and families created by adoption, foster care and other complex blended family constructions. .  She has been Principal Investigator on federal grants around Youth At Risk, Homelessness, Transracial Adoption, and LGBT issues in the community of Aging Out Adolescents/Young Adults.

She has developed models for treatment and for training using her systemic, intergenerational, and developmental framework The Normative Crises in the Development of the Adoptive Family and her book The Family of Adoption has received high acclaim.

http://www.pavaoconsulting.com

avatar Bill Mackinnon

Bill Mackinnon

Bill has been a healer, teacher and facilitator for 40+ years. He has been leading small and large groups, ranging from short term personal growth and structured groups, through long term abuse survivor groups. He believes in our inherent capacity to grow throughout life and become more of ourselves. His first career was in psychotherapy in residential treatment, inpatient hospital, outpatient mental health and private practice. He served individuals children & adolescents and families. His second career was teaching/facilitating communication classes in the North America, Central & South America, Europe, the Middle East and South Asia. The principles of change and growth were equally effective in both careers. Helping people to grow, whether challenged by difficulties or aspirations are the most gratifying and fulfilling experiences.

Lunch – Friday

Friday – March 31, 2023

noon-1:15pm | Pre-function area & Ball room

You’ll choose your box lunch option (sandwich, salad, gluten free, or vegetarian), eat with friends, and then take some time to meet authors, podcasters, and our exhibitors. Beverages available all day.

Speaker Panels – Friday

Friday – March 31, 2023

1:30pm-3:00pm | various rooms

All attendees including significant others will choose from one of five different speaker panels with 3-4 speakers and questions and answer time. 

Additional Info

Authors: Loss and Unknown Roots
Join our panel of authors as they discuss their experiences with loss and unknown roots. Each of us experience different types of loss when we lack genetic connectivity. Let explore these themes with these talented writers.

Fathers’ Perspectives: Birth/Genetic/First and Raising/Social/Adoptive
Every father has a unique experience in navigating fatherhood. Hearing their perspectives will broaden your understanding of familial relationships for each person impacted by the loss of genetic connection. By listening these fathers’ (adoptive, birth, genetic, and raising) experiences, it helps us to better understand our own journey.

LGBTQIA+: Coming Out Twice
We often find it difficult to share our true identity publicly. This is compounded for those from the LGBTIA+ community when connecting with new family. Their experiences can benefit anyone navigating coming out about their genetic identity.

Ethnicity Shifts from a DNA Surprise
DNA surprises are complicated enough on their own. Add a significant ethnicity change and the ramifications can be multiplied exponentially. Loss of connection with your culture can lead to feelings of being an imposter. Discover how our panelists have successfully navigated these challenges.

Your Origins…It’s Big Business
Being donor conceived, adopted, or the product of prostitution indicates a possibility of a transactional nature to your origins. Join these panelists as they tease out the implications of the burden this may add for those who are products of these industries.

Break, Refreshments, & Snack – Friday

Friday – March 31, 2023

3:00pm-3:45pm | Pre-function area

Take a break, enjoy a snack, have a beverage. Check out the authors, podcasters, and exhibitors if you haven’t yet had a chance.

Creative and Healing Workshops – Friday

Friday – March 31, 2023

3:45pm-5:15pm | Various rooms

All attendees including significant others will choose from one of five different creative or therapeutic workshops. 

Additional Info

Recognizing Trauma and the Power of Your Inner Healing Intelligence
Explore the multiple ways to work through trauma including talk therapy, journaling, art, finding community, IFS/Parts work, yoga practice, mindfulness, EMDR, Brainspotting, groups, and psychedelic-assisted therapy. Learn why talk therapy doesn’t allow access to where trauma is stored in the brain. We’ll finish with a group resourcing exercise.
Lesli Johnson, MFT

Setting Boundaries for Healthy Relationships
When impacted by a DNA surprise or starting the reunion process, it is important to set personal boundaries that are clear and effectively communicated. Boundaries help us create personal space that is comfortable, safe and establishes mutual respect in your relationships. Learn how to identify unhealthy connections and build strong relationships with the people in your life.
Krista Driver, PhD

Nurturing Your Inner Child
When the world feels in utter turmoil, there is a child within who desperately needs nurturing and love regardless of how old you are or where you are from, where you go, or what you are doing. Meet and greet your own inner child and develop a plan to nurture and care for the child within.
Annette Becklund, MSW, LCSW, NBCCH

Writing Prompts to Explore The Impact of Your Adoption, Donor Conception, or NPE
Writing can be a powerful tool for introspection, self-discovery, and as an aid in self-healing. You will have an opportunity to explore your emotions, language choices, triggers, relationships, and identity issues through therapeutic writing prompts. This is a safe space to explore how far you have come, where you are today and maybe even where you want to go.
Joni Mantell, LCSW

Tai Chi for Emotional Regulation & Self Care
Enjoy this shortened Yang Style form choreographed to The Serenity Prayer for stress reduction and self-regulation. Learn about the importance of self-care for addiction and trauma recovery and how movement can regulate emotions naturally. All ability types are welcome.
Theresa Knorr, CARC RCP

Presented by

avatar Lesli Johnson, MFT

Lesli Johnson, MFT

Ask Adoption

I came “out of the fog” in my mid 20’s after spending most of my life believing that separation from my biology was not relevant to who I was or how I viewed the world. Adoption was just a word that meant I was “special” and birth parents were colorful characters (likely rock stars) created in the fantasy world I visited regularly.

I spent many years in therapy, racked with anxiety but none of the therapists I worked with helped me connect my symptoms to the early loss I experienced. They didn’t think it was relevant because I was “lucky to have been adopted by wonderful parents.” While it is true I was adopted into a good family, it is also true that those early separations from my biological mother and then my foster family did matter.

Fast forward to present day. I’ve connected the dots of my adoption story and understand that my feelings were normal and helped shape who I am. My personal experience led me to my profession working as a Licensed Therapist and Coach and Consultant, specializing in adoption and related issues.

https://www.askadoption.com

avatar Krista Driver, PhD

Krista Driver, PhD

Mariposa Center

Krista was born to a teen mother and was a child of the foster care system for four years before she was adopted. Dr. Krista Driver started out as the epitome of the “underdog.” It was as an adult that she discovered she was also an NPE (non-parent expected) and has focused her clinical practice on working with others who have a Misattributed Parentage Experience (MPE) navigate their discovery journey, as well as help them build their tree’s and locate living bio-relatives.

As a licensed marriage and family therapist in the State of California, with a doctorate in psychology, Dr. Driver has dedicated her career to working with the most vulnerable in her community. As the CEO of Mariposa Women and Family Center, a nonprofit counseling center that specializes in providing mental health services to women and children, Dr. Driver is perpetually looking for innovative ideas for the agency and ways to build relevant programming to meet the needs of Orange County and beyond.

In 2016, she was recognized with an award for outstanding contributions in the field of mental health by the Mental Health Association of Orange County. Krista is a published author and her book Mani/Pedi – A True Life Rags to Riches story was published in 2019.

www.mariposacenter.org
Kdriver@mariposacenter.org

avatar Annette L Becklund, MSW, LCSW, NBCCH

Annette L Becklund, MSW, LCSW, NBCCH

Annette L Becklund, MSW, LCSW & Assoc LLC

Annette L Becklund is a therapist for over twenty years, specializing in Developmental Disabilities, a Mental Health Consultant, writer, and workshop facilitator. Originally from New Jersey, and now in Florida, she is a person who found out her dad was not her biological father. Annette is an NPE (Not Parent Expected) woman who is a professional member of The MPE Counseling Collective, and a member of several support groups with approximately 10,000 members. Annette and her colleagues published a professional study in the Journal of Integrative Medicine, published an article on NPEs in In Focus, a magazine for therapists in Florida, and has spoken on Ancestry Discoveries and related treatment. She facilitates a Facebook page called Ancestry Discoveries and has been a guest on a podcast on the same topic. Author of “Ancestry Discoveries: What Happens Under the Sheets Doesn’t Stay There” available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Annette self-published Warren is Wonderful, a children’s book for children with autism. She loves spending time with her husband, Ray, a talented artist, her three pups: Abbie, Zeva, Rafiki and cat, Spirit.

For more info: AnnetteLBecklund.com and AncestryDiscoveries.com.

avatar Joni Mantell, LCSW

Joni Mantell, LCSW

IAC Counseling Center

Joni is personally privy to the complexities of genetic bewilderment having undergone her own surprising DNA discovery: that she, herself, was donor conceived. The unique juxtaposition of her professional specialties and personal story—allowing her insight from both the perspective of expert and subject—has given her a deep understanding and passion for working with individuals and families navigating the intricate emotional, identity, self-esteem, and relationship issues related to adoption, donor conception, or other unexpected family matches (MPE).

She has over 25 years of experience as a psychotherapist specializing in families created through adoption and third-party reproduction and is the Founder and Director of the Infertility and Adoption Counseling Center. She received a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Certificate in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy from the Post Graduate Center for Mental Health in New York City. She is a frequent feature writer and contributor to “Ask the Expert” articles for Adoptive Families Magazine and other select publications and is licensed in the state of New York and New Jersey.

JMantellmsw@gmail.com
https://iaccenter.com/

avatar Theresa Knorr

Theresa Knorr

Theresa M. Knorr, CARC RCP (Certified Addiction Recovery Coach, Recovery Coach Professional) is an adopted person in recovery.  She is the owner of BALANCE Recovery Consultation, creator of Tai Chi for Recovery.  She currently serves as the Director of Recovery Education and Training for Friends of Recovery – New York, is a member of the ASAP-NYCB trainer registry, and co-facilitates Adoptee Paths to Recovery peer support meeting for NAAP with David B. Bohl.   

Theresa has over 30 years of experience working as a clinician, clinical supervisor and program director.  More recently, she has worked as a recovery coach, peer professional trainer and community educator.  She oversees the program for the NYS Recovery Conference and founded the FOR-NY Best Practice Trainer program.  Theresa is a daily practitioner of meditation and has been teaching self-care, meditation, and Tai Chi since 2001. 

Theresa has a BA in psychology (UAlbany 1984) and completed holistic medicine and Tai Chi training at Green Mountain Institute in 2000.  She has been credentialed as a substance use disorder counselor in New York (CASAC, 1997 2014) and Arizona (CADAC, 2014 -2017).  Email:  TaiChi4Recovery@gmail.com Website , Facebook , Instagram , LinkedIn, YouTube

Entertainment & Closing – Friday

Friday – March 31, 2023

5:30pm-6:30pm | Ball room

We’re closing the day’s events with a laugh with our favorite comedians.

Additional Info

They say laughter is the best medicine and we are taking advantage of a good laughs ability to reduce stress and improve moods. “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” – Charlie Chaplin

Presented by

avatar Laura High

Laura High

Laura is a New York actor and comedian and donor-conceived. She received her B.A. in Theatre Performance from Nazareth College. Laura has had lead roles on TV shows, and national commercials. Laura performs stand-up comedy at venues like Broadway Comedy Club, Bananas, and headlined Carolines on Broadway. Laura has been featured on the New York Comedy Festival and won the ‘Broadly Funny’ Divison at the 360 Stand Up Festival. Laura is a rising content creator. Laura has gone viral several times on TikTok and her following has grown exponentially in a short amount of time. Laura writes, produces, and edits all of her own work. 

https://www.laurahighfive.com/

avatar Pekitta Tynes

Pekitta Tynes

Pekitta Tynes is a Professional Comedienne, an Adoptee, a Foster Child, Foundling, and the author of the book titled “Thank God I Was Adopted ‘Cause DNA Is No Joke! Pekitta uses humor to share her search experience and her journey to finding her biological connection in-spite of life’s obstacles. Her experience will inspire, motivate and encourage audiences to never give up on their search and provide insight into why searching was necessary, what was the motivation to search, why giving up the search was not an option, and why DNA is no joke. She is one of the 100 Memorable Adoptees in the book Finding Our Place written by Nikki McCaslin with Richard Uhrlaub and Marilyn Grotzky. Pekitta has lived in Las Vegas, NV for 18-years but now resides in Sacramento, CA. Pekitta holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

Movie Time – @ghostkingdom – Friday

Friday – March 31, 2023

8:00pm-10:00pm | Ball room

Join Brian Stanton as we view his documentary @ghostkingdom and stay for Q&A afterward.

Additional Info

The story of adoption is a ghost story, full of fantasy, mystery, and missing persons, who, for the most part, are “as if” dead, unlike respectable ghosts, who are unambiguously dead. Many with a unique origin story have a ghost kingdom.

Presented by

avatar Brian Stanton

Brian Stanton

Brian Stanton is a Los Angeles-based stage actor who is most known for his original solo play BLANK, the true story of his adoption and search for identity. BLANK’s Hollywood premiere catapulted Stanton to perform all over the US and Canada, earning Best Solo Acting awards in New York and Los Angeles. Stanton’s most recent work @ghostkingdom, originally written as a play, was filmed during the pandemic due to theatre closures. Stanton has held screenings of his original film at film festivals as well as for adoption support and educational conferences. The Love International Film Festival honored Stanton with Best Screenwriter and Best Actor awards.

Tai Chi – Saturday

Saturday – April 1, 2023

7:00am-8:00am | TBD

Start off your day by focusing your mind and body to move into a relaxed state before the conference day starts in full swing.

Authors, Podcasters, and Exhibitors – Saturday

Saturday – April 1, 2023

8:00am-9:00am, noon-1:30pm, 3:00pm-3:45pm | Pre-function area

Come meet your favorite author and podcaster or preview what our exhibitors have to offer.

Breakfast, Icebreakers, and Welcome – Saturday

Saturday – April 1, 2023

8:00am-9:00am | Pre-function Area Ball Room

Join us for breakfast and take a few moments to meet other conference attendees.

Additional Info

Our MC Pekitta Tynes will entertain and help us in getting to know one another. She’ll be awarding prizes throughout the hour. Beverages available throughout the day.

Presented by

avatar Pekitta Tynes

Pekitta Tynes

Pekitta Tynes is a Professional Comedienne, an Adoptee, a Foster Child, Foundling, and the author of the book titled “Thank God I Was Adopted ‘Cause DNA Is No Joke! Pekitta uses humor to share her search experience and her journey to finding her biological connection in-spite of life’s obstacles. Her experience will inspire, motivate and encourage audiences to never give up on their search and provide insight into why searching was necessary, what was the motivation to search, why giving up the search was not an option, and why DNA is no joke. She is one of the 100 Memorable Adoptees in the book Finding Our Place written by Nikki McCaslin with Richard Uhrlaub and Marilyn Grotzky. Pekitta has lived in Las Vegas, NV for 18-years but now resides in Sacramento, CA. Pekitta holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

avatar Marcie Keithley

Marcie Keithley

President & Co-founder, NAAP

Marcie’s background includes sales, management, operations, team development and leadership. She has served on a variety of boards such as Habitat for Humanity, United Way, Kiwanis International and Executive Director for her local Chamber of Commerce. She’s a First Mother in reunion since 2008, an adoptive mom, co-founded the Indiana Adoptee Network, and has testified multiple times over the years in support of original birth certificate (OBC) access. She also hosts a weekly Friday night virtual event, Adoption Happy Hour, with global attendance from the adoption constellation. Keithley is the author of The ShoeBox Effect, Transforming Pain Into Fortitude and Purpose as well as the co-author of Frankie and Friends Talk Adoption.

Plenary Speaker – Saturday

Saturday – April 1, 2023

9:00am-10:15am | Ball Room

People with a unique origin story often struggle with what is their true identity – join Paul Joseph Fronczak as he discusses his journey to find himself.

Additional Info

Paul always felt like he was someone else. At 10 he found three boxes that changed everything. He learned about an infamous kidnapping in 1964 that remains unsolved to this day, that he was abandoned on a street corner at age 2, and he wasn’t Paul after all. 

Presented by

avatar Paul Fronczak

Paul Fronczak

In an instant, Paul Fronczak became a man without a name, a birthday, or medical history—an “unidentified living person,” in official terminology. Ten years ago, Paul took a DNA test that disproved the story he’d been told about his identity—that he was “Baby Fronczak,” the infant who’d been kidnapped from a Chicago hospital in an infamous 1964 crime. Paul has spent the last ten years searching for answers—and looking for the real Paul Fronczak. “I’m on a mission,” he says, “and I can’t stop until I find out what happened.” A military veteran and former actor as well as an avid bassist and Rush fan, Paul now lives in Las Vegas, and has a daughter he calls “the greatest kid in the world.” Paul is devoting himself to helping others with unknown parentage issues. His motto: “Leave no stone unturned.”

Therapy Room – Saturday

Saturday – April 1, 2023

11:00am-5:00pm | Rockbridge Executive Board Room

Some of the topics we’ll be discussing may be triggering and we want to ensure everyone has a quiet safe space to recoup.

Additional Info

Licensed mental health professionals are volunteering their time to help conference attendees should a topic, discussion, or comment raise uncomfortable or difficult feelings or memories.   

Speaker Panels – Saturday

Saturday – April 1, 2023

10:30am-noon | various rooms

All attendees will choose from one of five different speaker panels with 3-4 speakers and questions and answer time. 

Additional Info

The Impact of Growing Up with Secrets & Lies (NPE Speakers)
Secrets fester and unconsciously negatively impact a person’s sense of self and their relationships. Lies have far-reaching consequences for the secret holder and their family. The panelists will discuss the effects of untruths, withheld information, and the unanticipated baggage they bring.

Lessons Learned & Implications for the Future (Adoptee Speakers)
Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past. The panelists will review historical missteps in the adoption world and explore the ways different groups, organizations, and countries are attempting to right past wrongs and ensure a more ethical future.

Ethics & Human Rights in Our Origins (DCP Speakers)
No one’s conception should be facilitated unethically. Alternative family building must take place in a principled environment. The U.S. is the only country that has not signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Children. The panelists will discuss advocacy and reform in this highly unregulated space.

Mothers’ Perspectives: Birth/Genetic/First and Raising/Social/Adoptive
Society puts a higher burden on moms. But what if we each took a moment to walk in our mother’s shoes? Gain understanding and empathy for these moms (adoptive, birth, genetic, and mom of someone with an NPE) and their diverse experiences.

Podcasters: Themes of Genetic Identity Discoveries
Podcasters are in a unique position to identify the overarching themes associated with adoption, assisted conception, and non-paternal events. Join your favorite podcasters as they discuss what they’ve learned from interviewing us.

Lunch – Saturday

Saturday – April 1, 2023

noon-1:15pm | Pre-function area & Ball room

You’ll choose your box lunch option (sandwich, salad, gluten free, or vegetarian), eat with friends, and then take some time to meet authors, podcasters, and our exhibitors. Beverages available all day.

Creative and Healing Workshops – Saturday

Saturday – April 1, 2023

1:30pm-3:00pm | Various rooms

All attendees including significant others will choose from one of five different creative or therapeutic workshops. 

Additional Info

Transformative Journey Storytelling
Participants are guided through a creative arts technique that allows for the development of metaphors, imagery, and symbols that become a source of strength and meaning. Storytelling is an ancient part of our shared humanity and a powerful way we organize and make sense of our experiences, develop self-understanding, and strengthen a sense of belonging.
Carla Barnes, MS, LPC

Mind/Body/Energy Training for Self-Love & Forgiveness
An essential component to healing is learning how to re-connect with yourself, love yourself, and recognize your own value. This can be achieved through training your mind and body with simple energy exercise and meditation to bring yourself back into balance. Understand and experience how simple energy exercises can help with your inner healing.
Danielle Gaudette

Flash Memoir Writing
Let’s write “Flash memoirs.” Gain confidence in #ownvoices. Jumpstart getting your story down, whether you’re writing for friends & family only, for short published pieces, or to pen a memoir. Quickly master the options for “point of view” and “unreliable narrator” and understand the five parts of a “narrative arc” in #foundfamily stories.
Michele Kriegman

Navigating Family Relationships with Unique Origins
Isolation, rejection, and relationship upheavals are common experiences for many DNA-surprised individuals. These experiences often challenge family systems and identity. This workshop will discuss how DNA surprises affect family systems as well as the impact DNA surprises has on personal identity. This workshop will offer strategies for feeling less “stuck.”
Gina Daniels, PhD

Self-Care Habits: 3+ Years After Discovery
Because the processing never ends, self-care must play an integral role in the journey of everyone who makes a genetic discovery. Explore tools to continue the healing process and help you be prepared if and when triggered. Empower your mental and physical well-being to hold on to how far you’ve come and to continue growing.
Ereka Howard

Presented by

avatar Carla Barnes, MS, LPC

Carla Barnes, MS, LPC

Carla Barnes MS LPC and Associates

Carla Barnes, Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas, is a therapist and owns a group counseling practice working with children, teens, adults, couples, and families using the Parental Identity DiscoveryTM approach, integrating a combination of EMDR, grief, trauma-informed, attachment, and family system skills to support the NPE/MPE. She works with clients to assimilate the unexpected changes in their identity, mood, and family dynamics, increasing coping skills, and self-actualization. Furthermore, Carla first became familiar with misattributed parentage in 2016 with the discovery that she was a MPE herself. What she learned through this experience is that there are others out there like her, and that there is hope and healing through this journey. Currently, she hosts a virtual NPE/MPE support circle every other week and all NPE/MPE’s are welcome to join. She can be reached at www.carlabarneslpc.com.

https://www.carlabarneslpc.com/

avatar Danielle Gaudette

Danielle Gaudette

Danielle Gaudette is a twenty-year trainer and mindfulness coach in Body & Brain principles and practices – an energy training method that was vital to her own inner healing journey that began after her overwhelming reunion with her birth mother, actress Kate Mulgrew, in 1998. In her recently published teaching-memoir, Healing Tree: An Adoptee’s Story of Hurting, Healing and Letting the Light Shine Through, Danielle shares how through discovering the power of the mind-body connection, she was able to re-connect with herself on a deep level, giving her the strength to face her primal wound, eventually leading her to a path of self-love and self-forgiveness. 

She seeks to share her story, as well as the tools that empowered her, to help others find the courage to cultivate a healing relationship with themselves.  She currently lives in Kirkland, Washington where she works as the regional director of Body & Brain Centers. Her Healing Tree blog can be found at daniellegaudette.com.

avatar Michele Kriegman

Michele Kriegman

Michele Kriegman, was born, relinquished, and adopted in New York City. She graduated from Wellesley College and received a Japanese Ministry of Education graduate scholarship to Sophia University’s Department of Mass Communications in Tokyo. There she began a journalism career at ABC News, followed by multi-year assignments with Nippon TV’s top-rated morning show, among others, and was a producer on a Gabriel Award-winning documentary on Peace Studies in Boston and Hiroshima.

Although she is a storyteller by nature, like many adoptees she was missing her own backstory well into adulthood. Finding her birth-father in New York before the state opened its records helped complete it. Most recently, a DNA test kit that came as a Chrismukkah present revealed an unknown adoptee sister!

Having worked in a second career as a cybersecurity professional for over fifteen years, Michele now devotes herself to writing full time, focusing on two genres: cybercrime mysteries, and search and reunion novels. Her birth-father’s complex effort at redemption later in life inspired the 2022 novel Finding Faith: The Birth-Fathers’ Club Series. Other novels in the series are ROCK MEMOIR and From a Desert City by the Sea. She reclaimed her birth-name, Suzanne Gilbert, to write her 2014 debut novel Tapioca Fire.

Website: https://reunionlandpress.com/

eBookshop: https://www.amazon.com/author/michele

avatar Gina Daniel, DSW, LCSW, PhD

Gina Daniel, DSW, LCSW, PhD

Gina Daniel LLC

Gina discovered her NPE status the day after Father’s Day in June 2018 after completing a recreational ancestry DNA test. While shocked with this discovery, her entire life began to make a lot more sense. At the time she was in a doctorate program and made the decision to study the NPE experience for her research. While it was incredibly healing and rewarding to hear the experiences of other NPEs, it also reinforced an understanding of what was lacking for individuals going through this new, typically unexpected, experience. As a licensed clinical social worker working in mental health, Gina is making it part of her mission to educate NPEs, their families, and the professional community about DNA surprises. Misattributed paternity is not new to society but learning about it through a recreational test certainly is.

Gina resides in central Pennsylvania, has two adult daughters attending Penn State University, and has a very supportive husband who navigates the chaos with her. She is a graduate of Millersville University with a Doctorate in Social Work, Temple University with her Master of Social Work and the University of Maryland (Europe) with her B.A. She just bought and rehabbed a building that opened as Graystone Mental Health and Wellness on July 1, 2022. She works in a local school district as the high school social worker but will complete that gig at the end of this school year to grow Graystone into retirement. She also needs a nap.

Dr. Gina Daniel, DSW, LCSW
School Social Worker
Mechanicsburg Area School District
gdaniel@mbgsd.org
(717) 506-0864
https://www.ginadaniellcsw.com/

avatar Ereka Howard

Ereka Howard

Ereka is a speaker, co-author, Certified Life Coach, Clinician and Adoptee. Since the precocious age of eight, she has graced and impacted audiences throughout the nation alongside with her adoptive mother. Ereka has been recognized as an authority on motivation, peak performance and peer leadership which have made her well-respected amongst her community and audience. She creates an authentic connection with her audience as they think, laugh, applaud and remain engaged. Ereka has a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Sports Science and a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is currently working on a Doctorate in Counseling Education and Supervision.

https://mserekahoward.com/

Break, Refreshments, & Snack – Saturday

Saturday – April 1, 2023

3:00pm-3:45pm | Pre-function area

Take a break, enjoy a snack, have a beverage. Check out the authors, podcasters, and exhibitors if you haven’t yet had a chance.  

Speaker Workshops – Saturday

Saturday – April 1, 2023

3:45pm-4:45pm | various rooms

You will have five great topics to choose from during this one-hour speaker time lost. 

Additional Info

Reunion & Pitfalls – Genetic Magnetism, Speeding, Boundaries, and Communication
There is often an intense magnetism when we meet genetic family for the first time. Learn how to deal with these emotions as well as identifying the pitfalls and strategies to give your reunion the best chance of success. Understanding the hazards lurking in reunion, might offer a second chance at family connection.
Leslie Mackinnon, LCSW

Genetic Identity Crises and Careers – How to Find Your True Self at Work
Research shows “family of origin” is a critical factor in shaping career identity. What happens when “family of origin” is complicated? Learn how untangling your roots can help you better understand career choices and find greater work satisfaction.
Michelle Tullier, PhD

FOG (Fear, Obligation, Guilt) Fazes for Familial Connection
We’ll work through the 8 phases of emerging awareness as one confronts, processes, and resolves the impact of loss of genetic continuity in their life. What does it really mean to “Come out of the FOG”? Let’s discuss where you are in your journey learn to integrate your stories.
Amy Barker D’Alessandro, LMHC and Jennifer Joy Phoenix, MSSW, LSWAIC, MHP

Navigating Your Genetics & Health
Discover what a genetic counselor does and doesn’t do. What are the options when family history is limited or unavailable? Learn the difference between the DNA testing platforms: direct-to-consumer, medical-grade proactive testing, whole genome or exome sequencing. See how to navigate family history information and integration genetic information into your life.
Gina Davis, MS, CGC

Squaring the Hippocratic Oath & MPEs
Many medical organizations and articles endorse non-disclosure of an MPE. Let’s discuss the moral hazard of this approach and how to improve medical professionals’ management of an MPE to ensure genetic transparency as well as a child’s and family’s long-term well-being.
Richard Wenzel, Pharm.D. CPPS

Presented by

avatar Leslie Pate Mckinnon, LCSW

Leslie Pate Mckinnon, LCSW

Leslie Mackinnon, LCSW

Leslie Pate Mackinnon has maintained a private psychotherapy practice for four decades. She resides in Atlanta and presents both nationally and internationally on issues that impact families conceived through adoption and third-party reproduction. She’s been on GOOD MORNING AMERICA w/ Robin Roberts, and on CNN discussing the impact of the internet on adoption. She was featured in DAN RATHER’s investigative report; ADOPTION OR ABDUCTION and was most recently on the Katie Couric show along with her oldest son Pete.

Leslie’s story is included in the book; The Girls Who Went Away, and the documentary A GIRL LIKE HER. Drawn to the field by placing her two firstborn sons for adoption when she was a teenager, her passion today is to educating as many therapists as possible, before she drops! She currently serves on the Evan B. Donaldson’s Board of Directors. For fun she reads voraciously, listens to jazz and sings in a gospel choir. For more information about Leslie, please visit www.lesliepatemackinnon.com.

avatar Michelle Tullier

Michelle Tullier

Dr. Michelle Tullier is a nationally certified career counselor with more than 30 years’ experience helping people navigate both the practical and emotional sides of career development and job search for more fulfilling and successful work lives. She served as Executive Director of the Georgia Tech career center, as one of Monster.com’s first online career coaches, and in regional leadership roles with a global outplacement firm serving clients from individual contributors to executives. She holds a PhD in Counseling Psychology from UCLA and BA from Wellesley College.

Michelle now manages Careers Uncomplicated, a full-time career coaching practice that serves clients of all ages remotely across the U.S. (www.careersuncomplicated.com). Since learning of her NPE status in 2016, Michelle has done deep and difficult work to process the shock of her new identity and has developed a special interest in how MPE experiences can impact career choices, career identities, and attitudes toward work.

avatar Amy Barker D’Alessandro, LMHC