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

Friday, October 17th

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 (Nightlight\The 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: Hearts on Hold: Practical Encouragement for Waiting Parents
Speaker: Kim De Blecourt
Description: TBA

Session: Let’s Do This Together: The Essentiality of Community in Orphan Care
Speaker: Randy Doleman (The Orphan Care Network)
Description: Scripture is abundantly clear about our [the Church's] calling to care for the orphan, the marginalized, and the vulnerable. Scripture is also expressively clear that we should be living and growing into the likeness of Christ amongst other believers in community. Orphan care, by its very nature, tends to be quite isolating for families. It brings about a busy schedule, numerous rules and legalities, and eventually leads to many families withdrawing from community, causing detrimental effects on both the spiritual and emotional health of all parties, while further separating the needy from the able. The Orphan Care Network helps create and sustain community groups that rally around one another in the calling to care for the orphaned and vulnerable. Join us as we discuss how community is primary and essential to a sustainable orphan care ministry in your church and city.

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.

Workshops B: 2:15 – 3:15PM

Session: Polar Truths: How Do We Grip Seeming Opposites at the Same Time?
Speaker: Jedd Medefind
Description: Caring for vulnerable children wisely and well often demands that we grip seemingly opposite truths and priorities simultaneously. Together we’ll explore hard questions of adoption and orphan care through this lens, mapping out key tensions we must hold…and how to do so with both truth and grace. Note: this workshop will be primarily discussion-based, with guided conversation and deliberation among attendees.

Session: Mentoring is the Baseline of Foster Care
Speaker: John Sowers (The Mentoring Project)
Description: This generation will never believe out gospel – that God can be their father – unless we show up in their lives with the same intimacy that Christ showed up in our lives at the Incarnation. In this session we will discuss how to love and live incarnationally.

Session: Adopting the PERFECT Child and Other Fairy Tales: How to Have Realistic Expectations When Adopting
Speaker: David Wooten (Lifeline)
Description: Every adoptive family enters the journey with expectations – some realistic and some fantasy. When reality and expectations collide, you need a strategy to deal with the disappointment and to readjust your expectations. Come learn how to align expectations and prepare for those days when adoption and parenting is hard.

Session: How to Attach to a Child
Speaker: Laura Beauvais-Godwin (Nightlight)
Description: Transplanted children coming into our homes through foster care, adoption, or stepfamilies, often with histories of trauma, need to become securely attached to us and we to them. Our attachment style is important because our children cannot be any more securely attached than we are. So how do we know if we are securely attached adults, and what can we do to become the securely attached to each other and God?

Session: So You’re Considering Adoption? Five Questions You Need to Ask and Where to Find Answers
Speaker: Amber Steffen (Loving Shepherd)
Description: Thinking and praying about whether to adopt and where to start can be overwhelming. In this session, we’ll explore the five key questions that all couples considering adoption should be asking and, most importantly, where to find answers! If you’re considering adoption yourself or are a ministry leader wanting to effectively equip people who are considering adoption, this breakout is a great place to start.

Session: When the Gospel Leads You Away from Adoption: A Foster Care Perspective
Speakers: Jason Weber, Johnston Moore, & Rhonda Littleton
Description: TBA

Session: The Changing Tide of International Adoption
Speaker: Herbie Newell (Lifeline)
Description: Learn more about the process of international adoption and also explore how the call to adopt internationally is not about being rescued, but is ultimately a call given to those who have been rescued themselves by the grace of Almighty God. Explore ways to be missional through international adoption through simple discipleship.

Session: Foster Care Panel
Speakers: Danny Stevens, Helen Ramaglia, Brian/Barb Fisher
Description: TBA

Session: Innovative Adoption Funding Solutions
Speaker: Rich Metcalfe (Lifesong)
Description: This work shop will equip churches and families to overcome one of the biggest barriers to adoption: money. Learn creative solutions to the funding hurdles, both big and small. Explore specific examples and “case studies” of God’s provision through churches and individuals to meet the financial needs of adoption.

Session: Special Needs Panel: Being Changed for the Good
Panelists: Shelly Roberts, Rob/Lisa Braniff, Shannon/Lee Dingle

Saturday, October 18th

Workshops C: 11:00AM – 12:00PM

Session: A Deeper Look at the Politics of Adoption & Reproduction
SpeakerDr. Elizabeth Bartholet (Harvard Law Professor)
Description: Join Dr. Elizabeth Bartholet as she digs deeper into the issues she raises in her main session talk on international adoption as a human rights issue and explores domestic US policy issues related to adoption, foster care, and family preservation.

Session: What if Doing Good Were Simple?
Speaker: Chris Marlow (Help One Now)
Description: This is an important question–one that deserves an answer. Leaders of churches, nonprofits, and mission organizations have to process what it means to innovate and to give their tribes tools and stories that make a difference, activating people to engage in doing good and doing it well. We will discuss future innovative practices of orphan care and how to do work that truly helps and empowers the poor, so they can solve their own problems and lead in their own communities.

Session: In Pursuit of Orphan Excellence
Speaker: Phil Darke (Providence World)
Description: In this workshop, we will discuss the framework for excellence in orphan care communities introduced by the book, In Pursuit of Orphan Excellence. The framework includes Family, Community Integration, Education, Nutrition, Medical/Dental Care, Psychosocial Care, National Leadership, Self-Sustainability, and Spiritual Formation. In addition to discussing the specifics of each of the Framework’s prongs and real-life examples from around the world, we will examine how we can and should collaborate with each other to love orphans with excellence, as God loves them.

Session: TBA
Speaker: Elizabeth Styffe (Saddleback Church)
Description: TBA

Session: Evaluation & Correction: Entering Phase 2 of the Evangelical Orphan Care Movement
Speaker: Daniel Bennett
Description: The scrutiny faced by the evangelical orphan care movement over the past few years is inevitable for a movement that has grown so large and impacted so many lives.An inability or unwillingness to respond to subsequent criticism represents a potential danger to the orphan care movement. A biblical response to critique demands recognition that critics often offer helpful correctives. A movement that will heed reproof will be able to improve and bring greater glory to God. This discussion will consider the ways in which critics strengthen our movement and how to respond biblically to them.

Session: A Story of Orphan Care vs. Adoption
Speaker: Mike Rusch (Pure Charity)
Description: The lines have been drawn between Orphan Care Advocates and Adoptive Families over issues of adoption ethics, advocacy, development, policy, and what is truly in the best interests of the child. Should Orphan Care Advocates be supportive of adoption? Do adoptive families have an obligation to engage in long term orphan care initiatives? Why are orphan care advocates blaming adoptive families for being part of the problem? Does every adoptive family really need to be concerned about ethical adoption practices if long term it helps the child? Is the church helping or hurting the orphan care effort by favoring adoption or orphan care efforts unfairly? These are some of the questions we will work through together to see if adoptive families and orphan care advocates really are working towards the same goals.

Session: Foster Care as a Ministry of Reconciliation
Speakers: Rebecca Moore, Sharon Betts (Miracle Hill)
Description: As churches rally round the image of adoption on earth as a picture of our adoption in Christ, Foster Care is often overlooked. In 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, Paul says that, “(God) through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” In foster care, the ministry of reconciliation is lived out. Foster parents partner with Christ in repairing what was broken and giving all those involved a picture of the gospel.

Session: How Can the Adoption Tax Credit Help Me?
Speaker: Becky Wilmoth (Bills Tax Service)
Description: We will help you understand how the Adoption Tax Credit works, how it can help you, and who qualifies for this wonderful credit. Even though it is not refundable right now, it can still help you with your tax liability for up to 5 years. Bills Tax Service is a Christian owned and operated tax and accounting firm that has been blessed by adoption.

Session: The Journey
Speaker: Helen Ramaglia (From Foster to Fabulous)
Description: Helen uses her own personal story to inspire, captivate and empower society to become heroes in the lives of children in distress. She passionately shares a raw, transparent journey through a lifetime of devastation. Helen also shares about her unique relationship ship with God that has guided her to where she is today. Take The Journey, and hold the heart of a foster child. New understanding that leads to a better outcome for children in distress.

Session: Helping Orphans 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 Lunch Workshop: 12:15 – 1:00PM

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

Dr. Parks is a 1980 Criminal Justice graduate of the University of South Carolina. He received a Masters Divinity degree from Erskine College and Theological Seminary and earned a Doctorate degree 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 since 1991.

Workshops D: 2:30 – 3:30PM

Session: Ethical Adoption Practices
Speakers: Herbie Newell, Jason Kovacs
Description: In this conversation we will talk straight with adoption agency directors, asking them the hard questions surrounding ethics in adoption and orphan care. As those who are on the front lines of adoption how do they approach ethics? Is there a conflict of interest? What do they do when they find out ethics are on the line in a particular situation? What are they doing to prevent abuse and what does the future hold for adoption agencies and families?

Session: Know Orphans
Speaker: Rick Morton (author of KnowOrphans: Mobilizing the Church for Global Orphanology)
Description: Jesus’ call to engage the world and make disciples is to His church. Correspondingly, God’s command to care for orphans and vulnerable children is made to the church as well. To understand the needs of orphaned and vulnerable children, the church must first know these children and understand their needs in context. Armed with this knowledge, the church prepares itself to assume responsibility for ethically, compassionately, and comprehensively meeting the needs of orphaned and vulnerable children in Jesus name. Come engage a discussion of the maturing of the evangelical orphan care movement and how the church can truly pursue a global James 1:27 vision.

Session: Best Practices on Working with International Pastors
Speaker: Scott Vair (World Orphans)
Description: You speak different languages. You come from different cultures: You have different expectations, and experiences. Communication is difficult at best. And yet you share a common hearts desire to see orphans and vulnerable children cared for, loved, and protected. Most importantly you share the love of Jesus. Join us as together we explore some best practices in working with international pastors.

Session: Infinitely More
Speaker: Alex Krutov (The Harbor St. Petersburg, Russia)
Description: Alex represents The Harbor in St. Petersburg ministry where the primary focus is to help orphans who have aged out of the state orphanage system to socially adapt in the areas of spiritual, emotional, educational, social, basic life skills and professional skills and orientation. This session will cover Alex’s life experience on being raised as an orphan for 18 years, issues that orphans face upon emancipation from the state system and how to successfully transition them into society to become productive, self-sufficient, educated, employed and active citizens.

Session: ICWA: When Good Intentions Go Awry
Speaker: Johnston Moore (Home Forever)
Description: The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was passed in 1978 in an effort to address a problem: Native-American children were being removed from their families by well-meaning, but often misinformed, social workers and agencies and being placed in non-Native homes for foster care and adoption. Tribes argued that in many of these cases, the children were not being neglected or abused, but were simply being reared in culturally-appropriate ways that were unfamiliar to non-Native child welfare workers, and that as a result, tribes were losing their children and children were losing connection to the tribal cultures in which they had been raised. The Congressional response was well-intentioned, but ultimately short-sighted, as thirty-four years later, tribes are given an inordinate amount of power in many child custody proceedings, and the law is impacting far more children than it was ever intended to touch, including multi-ethnic children with mere traces of Native-American blood and no previous connection to any tribe or tribal customs. In many private adoptions, tribal representatives, who have never met the child, will persuade courts to overrule the wishes of a birth parent who has chosen an adoptive plan for his or her child, and in many foster care cases, tribal representatives will persuade courts to move children out of foster homes in which the children have lived for considerable amounts of time and in which the children have formed deep, psychological attachments, to live with distant relatives in states far from where the children were raised. In this breakout, we will look at the intent of the law, the actual practice of the law, and the detriment to innocent children due to its misapplication.

Session: More Than Enough: The Power of Unlikely Allies Working Together for Children in Foster Care
Speaker: Jason Weber (Christian Alliance for Orphans)
Description: TBA

Session: Adoption/Fostering Kids from Hard Places
Speaker: Mandy Litzke
Description: TBA

Session: Practical and Legal Aspects of Adoption
Speaker: Raymond Godwin
Description: Contrary to popular opinion, the United States does have many children to be adopted. This discussion will cover the practical and legal aspects of the domestic adoption process, including the role of the attorney/agency, Adoptive Couple, and Birth Parent(s). The emphasis will be on the steps of the adoption journey.