Providing gospel-centered resources to mobilize the church for global orphan care.


Main Session Attendees

Not counting our emcee (Johnny Carr) and this year’s worship leader (Randall Goodgame), you will hear from 18 different people in our main sessions this year. Six of them will speak for 30 minutes while 12 of them will speak for 10 world-shaping minutes (if you are familiar with TED Talks, you are already familiar with the format we will use)

Each of the six 30-minute talks with be followed by a panel of key leaders within the adoption movement who will join her/him on stage to discuss the presentation and what its implementation would mean in our care for at-risk children. In addition to these onstage discussions, you’ll have the opportunity to hear our twelve 10-minute speakers expand upon their visions in smaller workshop settings. Never before have you had this many opportunities to interact with the leading thinkers out there like you will at this year’s T4A conference. Words can shape the worldand that includes the world of orphan care.

30-Minute Talks

2014 30-Min Speakers

10-Minute Talks

2014 10-Min Speakers

Join us October 17-18 for Together for Adoption National Conference 2014 in Greenville, SC. Learn more:

Note About the Video: The waterfall in the video is a bit more impressive than even we remembered. Sorry about all the noise during the recording. If you think about it, though, the sound of the water does “fit” contextually with the message of the video (“voice like the roar of many waters”; Rev. 1:15)… Judge for yourself!

*Video was filmed at Falls Park in Downtown Greenville.

To Our Facebook Friends & Twitter Followers

by Dan Cruver Published Sep 12, 2014

Ready-Made Tweets Impage

To all our Facebook friends and Twitter followers: Whether or not you are attending our October 17-18 Together for Adoption conference here in Greenville, South Carolina, would you consider helping us spread the word via Twitter and/or Facebook status updates (or, if you have one, even on your blog)? Can’t tell you how much it would mean to us if you did.

We’ve even provided ready-made tweets to make it easy for you:

Thank you so very much in advance!

How to Cut Through the Noise

by Dan Cruver Published Sep 11, 2014

Karyn Purvis 2010 T4A Workshop

To help you dive deeper into the critical issues surrounding caring for at-risk children, we are excited to offer workshops at this year’s Together for Adoption National Conference that cut through the noise.


Workshops A: 10:30 – 11:30AM

Session: A Deeper Look at the Gospel of Adoption as Family Reunification
Speaker: Dan Cruver
Description: How many of us within the evangelical orphan care and adoption movement talk like this? “In the Bible, adoption is never about taking orphans and making them sons and daughters of God. It’s always about God taking the enslaved and giving them the incomparable freedom of joy-filled sonship in His household.” Not many of us talk this way and the evangelical orphan care movement is the weaker for it. Join Dan for this workshop as he expands upon his main session talk “The Gospel of Adoption as Family Reunification” and provides opportunity for continued discussion.

Session: Thriving (and Not Simply Surviving) as an Adoptive or Foster Family
Speaker: Jason Kovacs
Description: Adoption and foster care are filled with incredible joy and great brokenness. Many families find themselves on the other side of a placement and wonder what happened? In this session we will address the common challenges adoptive/foster parents face in raising children from hard places. We will provide some simple principles and strategies utilizing the best of TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) and the gospel to not simply survive as an adoptive parent but to thrive by God’s grace and see your children heal.

Session: Adoption 101
Speaker: Laura Beauvais-Godwin (Nightlight)
Description: Nearly everyone who seeks to adopt does so, and you can too. There are at least six ways to become parents through adoption. In this discussion we will share how to select the best route based on your qualifications, desires, strengths, and the child’s needs.

Session: Faithfully Funding your Adoption
Speaker: Tami Burkett (ABBA Fund)
Description: Scriptural encouragement, practical solutions & creativity that makes you say “WOW” “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) You know in your heart that God has called you to adopt You know His Word says He will generously provide: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Cor 9:8) But when faced with $20K to $40K, the doubt creeps in. Come hear about practical solutions like grants, tax credits, fundraising ideas, and loans (if you still need one after trying these other solutions) — and where to find them! And stick around to the end to participate in a spotlight of some of the most creative — and effective — fundraising ideas from other adoptive families.

Session: Navigating Foster Care
Speakers: Lisa Prather and Ashley Lucenti (NightlightThe Bair Foundation)
Description: Not everyone is called to adopt, but we are all called to care for orphans. What about foster care? Is it right for our family? How will having a foster child affect my family? Isn’t it hard to care for a child only to have them leave your home after a short time? What are the guidelines and rules for foster parents? How do I know if I have what it takes? We will answer all of these questions and more in the Navigating Foster Care workshop.

Session: An Adult Adoptee’s Practical Discussion
Speaker: Nemili Johnson (T4A)
Description: Nemili Johnson was adopted as a toddler and has a unique perspective on adoption. She has worked to process and intimately understand the fears and concerns that adoptive parents and adoptees both feel toward various aspects of adoption. This breakout session will present a compilation of adult adoptees’ blogged thoughts, perceptions, and experiences around being adopted. Nemili will bring to light many topics which adoptive parents may be unaware of or do not yet know how to process. She will then explore ways on how to understand these adoptees’ perspectives by revealing practical components that can help parents better understand their own adoptee(s) and bring them new spiritual hope for the future.

Session: Trading in Fear for Faith as you Consider Serving
Speaker: Shelly Roberts (Abba Fund)
Description: Have you wondered if God might be calling you to care for those with special needs either through adoption or fostering? Does the thought of that have you scared silly? Whether you are considering special needs or already in deep, come be encouraged to trade in fear for faith as you serve.

Session: Older Child Adoption – Do You Have What It Takes?
Panelists: Julia MacKenzie, Jerry Tucker, and Agnes Tucker (Foster Care Panel)
Description: Most waiting children around the world and in the U.S. are older or in sibling groups. Wondering how you could manage? Afraid your child won’t bond? Worried your child will have “issues”? Come hear from our experienced panel including a teen adoptee! Bring your hardest questions and your greatest fears and we will keep it real. Panel with discussion and Q & A format.

Session: Helping Orphan via Sustainable Business
Speaker: Andy Lehman (Lifesong)
Description: This workshop will best serve any sized church orphan ministry desiring to be holistic or any entrepreneurs or business-minded individuals wanting to share their expertise to bring culture change to an orphan environment. Sharing what we have learnt from recent successes and pitfalls, we will consider how to grow sustainable agricultural business to create jobs, promote self-worth for orphan caregivers, provide future jobs for orphans as they age, and ultimately bless orphans in a holistic and sustainable way.

Optional Workshop for Organization & Ministry Teams (11:45am – 12:45pm)

Session: What Great Teams Share
Speaker: Dr. Will Gray
Description: No matter why your organization exists, your success or failure will be dramatically influenced by your team’s ability to work well together and lead your organization well. The challenge? Most people are never taught how to work well on teams, or how to build great teams. In this workshop, learn the qualities that great teams share, and how to begin strengthening your own team to be happier, more effective, and more successful as they lead your organization.

Dr. Will Gray is the President of ALIGN, where he helps leadership teams work better together. He has helped more than 100 organizations with communications, identity and strategy consulting, from startups and nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies. He believes each organization has a unique identity that can help it to succeed.


2014 Conference Buttons

by Dan Cruver Published Sep 10, 2014

Will you help us spread the word about this year’s Together for Adoption conference by using one of our buttons?


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Fundamental Question #2: Is Paul’s Language of Adoption to Be Taken Literally or Metaphorically?

By challenging the admixture of the filial and familial language of Paul and John so prevalent in treatments of adoption, we have disentangled John’s  terminology relevant to the new birth from Paul’s germane to the believer’s adoption in Christ. In summary of what we considered last time, the filial terms used by each apostle are similar, but bespeak different elements of our salvation. John speaks of our regeneration and Paul of our acceptance in Christ. It is, then, precisely because these motifs differ that they are distinctively-structured. They share some terms in common (notably “Father,” “sons,” and “children”), yet the motifs they shape are distinguished by Paul’s exclusive use of huiothesia (the placing of a son) on the one hand, and John’s use of gennao (to beget, to give birth) and its derivatives on the other.

With this point made, we take up a second question pertinent to our dippings into metaphorical theology: Has God literally adopted his people as his sons, or has his Spirit inspired Paul to describe our acceptance in Christ by means of the adoption metaphor or model (see later)? The question is worth posing for two reasons:

Reason #1: Interest is hard to come by. 

Few interested in adoption recognize this question or go on to tackle it. Writers use the term “adoption” profusely, but either presume it to be a literal reality or a metaphorical expression. Why there has been scant discussion of the alternatives is hard to tell. I can but offer some suggestions.

First, the silence is part of a broader neglect of the discussion of the function of religious language. Surprisingly, the comprehending of how biblical figures of speech depict the reality of God’s dealings with us is largely untouched.

Secondly, Scripture seems to give us few clear indications of how its language works. This likely explains why theologians assume one of two general philosophical positions: naive or critical realism. Whereas the naive realist perceives the external world as it really is (meaning in this context that God has truly and really adopted his people), the critical realist perceives the external world as a representative reality (meaning that adoption is a way of describing our acceptance in Christ accommodated to our finite minds). Only more Bible-based discussion of the variant naive and critical realist options will tell us the degree to which Scripture speaks to the matter.

Thirdly,  it seems to me there has been a fear of going beyond Scripture. In principle, this is laudable. As a strong advocate of the injection of biblical-theological concerns into the discipline of systematic theology (following the likes of John Calvin, John Murray, John Frame, and Richard Gaffin), I would not want us to veer into the realm of speculation. But there is an opposite danger, and that is of falling short of what Scripture teaches. As those called to love God with all of our minds (as well as our hearts, etc.), we must not shirk the difficult questions (to quote scholar O.T. Allis, or was it Robert Dick Wilson?). To borrow Calvin’s axiom, it is only where Scripture leaves off teaching that we leave off learning.

Reason #2: Answers are hard to come by.

The question we are taking up inquires whether adoption is archetypal to God, in which case we image-bearers have derived societal adoption from him; or, whether Paul wrote from out of his Hebrew and Graeco-Roman world, having been inspired by the Holy Spirit to describe our acceptance in Christ by means of adoption. We have said enough to anticipate that the naive realist, with his emphasis on literal reality, concurs with the former understanding of the language of adoption, and the critical realist, perceiving the world in terms of representative reality, with the latter. As we’ll see, the naive realist gets on with explicating Paul’s use of adoption in terms of its positioning in his writings and theology. The critical realist spends more time investigating the metaphorical garb ~ in effect, what is not literally true ~ but does so in order to discern from Semitic, Greek, or Roman backgrounds to Paul’s use of adoption what is actually true.

In my own writings to date I have taken more of a critical realist position, but, truthfully, by an assumption originating in the early to mid 1990s rather than by a self-conscious decision. So I revisit this issue with some humility and open-mindedness. I cannot promise dogmatic answers, but do think that the discussion helps to deepen our appreciation of the profundity of what it means, through faith in Christ, to be adopted sons, daughters, or children of God.


[A more extensive consideration of the discussion introduced here is found in Tim (J. R.) Trumper, "The Metaphorical Import of Adoption: A Plea for Realisation. II: The Adoption Metaphor in Theological Usage," Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 15:2 (Autumn 1997), 98-115.]


For more from the ministry of Tim J.R. Trumper, go to: (personal); (church)

T4A 2014 Conference Video

by Dan Cruver Published Sep 9, 2014

Join us October 17-18 for Together for Adoption National Conference 2014 in Greenville, SC. Learn more:

Note About the Video: The waterfall in the video is a bit more impressive than even we remembered. Sorry about all the noise during the recording. If you think about it, though, the sound of the water does “fit” contextually with the message of the video (“voice like the roar of many waters”; Rev. 1:15)… Judge for yourself!

*Video was filmed at Falls Park in Downtown Greenville.

Heaven and Earth

I received an email several years ago from a couple that decided to move to Africa in order to bring their children home. So difficult had the adoption process become that they realized the only way to bring their children home was move to Africa—and move they did! What in the world motivated this couple to move across the world in order to bring their children home? Here is how the husband answered that question in an email he sent me: “The ‘sacrifice’ seemed surprisingly small to leave the comforts of America for [Africa] when we compared them to Christ’s loving act of leaving the glories of heaven for the hardships he faced on earth.”

In Ephesians 1:5, Paul writes that God the Father “predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (emphasis mine), through the one who became man, taking to himself our very bone and flesh. Amazingly, the Son of God joined himself to us, not as a one who would keep a safe distance, but as one who would enter into the very heart of our world’s mess. Jesus came near to the broken by becoming broken for us. For the poor Jesus became poor. So near did he come to us that he embraced our suffering by suffering for us and in our place. The glorious Son of God left the perfection of heaven to the brokenness of earth in order that he might bring us into the joy and gladness of his family. Now that is amazing love.

As Christians, we owe our place in the household of God to the relentless, loving, unyielding pursuit of our Triune God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit took a “whatever it takes” approach to redeem us so that we might receive adoption as sons. When God sent forth his Son into the world, he did so knowing his Son would face the agony of Gethsemane and God-forsakenness upon the cross. Wonderfully, by the glory of the Father Jesus passed through death into resurrection. God had secured our place in his family. He essentially moved heaven and earth to get us!

Do you know what orphans need? You knew I was going to ask that question, didn’t you? Orphans need Christians who have been so gripped by the relentless, loving, unyielding pursuit of their God for them that they will “move heaven and earth” to visit them in their affliction. The church of Jesus Christ needs this kind of commitment in order to fulfill the biblical mandate to care for orphans. Obviously, this certainly does not mean that every believer needs to move across the sea for the sake of the fatherless (although I must say that it would be very interesting if this did happen!). What it does mean, though, is that we, together, are committed to caring for the orphan even if it brings us pain—emotional, physical, spiritual, economic, or otherwise.

If we are to become God-like in our care for the fatherless, we must live and move and find our daily joy and comfort in the story of redemption. The reality of what God has done for us in Christ is the key to mobilizing the church to visit orphans in their affliction.

Will you join us October 17-18 in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina as we look at the tough issues of adoption ethics and practice, family preservation and reunification, the fatherless problem in the U.S., and indigenous and international adoption through the lens of God’s relentless love? We’re bringing in many of the very best voices out there to cut through all the noise. Join us!

Learn more about this year’s Together for Adoption National Conference.

In addition to his 10 minute general session talk, Dr. Toney Parks is also leading a breakout session during lunch on Saturday, October 18th, on an extremely important and timely subject: parenting African-American children in our post-Ferguson country. Dr. Parks session is entitled: Advice for White Parents of African-American Children in the Post-Ferguson 21st Century. Please join us for this timely workshop.

Session: Advice for White Parents of African-American Children in the Post-Ferguson 21st Century
Description: Join African-American pastor Dr. Toney Parks as he shares wise advice for White couples parenting African-American children in the post-Ferguson United States.

Dr. Parks is a 1980 Criminal Justice graduate of the University of South Carolina. He has a Master of Divinity degree from Erskine College and Theological Seminary and an earned Doctorate in counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary. Dr. Parks is also an Assistant Professor of Biblical Counseling & Practical Ministry at Erskine Theological Seminary and has been the pastor of the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Travelers Rest, South Carolina since 1991.

See the Conference Schedule.

Register Now for T4A National Conference 2014.

10 Minutes to Shape the World

by Dan Cruver Published Aug 27, 2014

*See the image at the bottom of this post.

We may not usually be consciously aware of the power of our words or the words others speak, but if we stop to think about it, we know that our words can change the way others think and live. Our words have the power to create new situations. Just think of the power of “I love you”, or “I hate you”, or “I’m so very proud of you”, or “I couldn’t be more disappointed with you”. Words shape the world and how we relate to and live within it.

This recognition of the power of our words to shape the world we live in is why we are putting more speakers in front of everyone than we ever have before. Not counting our emcee (Johnny Carr) and this year’s worship leader (Randall Goodgame), you will hear from 18 different people in our main sessions this year. Six of them will speak for 30 minutes while 12 of them will speak for 10 world-shaping minutes (if you are familiar with TED Talks, you are already familiar with the format we will use). You likely will not agree with everyone, but you will feel the power of their words and the vision they cast for how we can better care for at-risk children everywhere on the globe.

And if a talk or three particularly affects you in significant ways, you’ll have the opportunity to hear each of them expand upon his or her talk in a workshop. These workshops will also provide you with the opportunity to discuss those ideas and their implications. This is one reason we are absolutely convinced that this will be the best Together for Adoption conference yet. Learn more about our 10 minute talks to shape the world.


Special Video Invite from Haiti

by Dan Cruver Published Aug 16, 2014

Michael Robison (who is in Haiti right now finalizing the adoption of their daughter) sent this special video inviting you to join him at our October 17-18 national conference in Greenville, SC. Thanks, Michael!

Learn more about this year’s conference


Register now.

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