If you are an adoptive parent, or thinking of adopting, or interested in orphan care, or just curious about social justice issues for children, consider coming to the Together For Adoption conference in Phoenix this October 21-22. I will be leading four sessions on helping children transition from group care into family life, and there is a really great line-up of speakers and breakout sessions.
I will confess, I was a little ambivalent about attending last year. Would it be a conference full of clueless do-gooders? Would there be any acknowledgement of the difficulties of adoption? Would there be a focus beyond traditional adoption, or on family preservation? Would we be subjected to watching countless slideshows of shiny happy adoptive families set to (gasp) Contemporary Christian music? Would we sit around slapping ourselves on the back for being good Christians for having “saved” our children?
Would someone read the starfish story?
What I found surprised me. The sessions for adoptive parents dove right in, focusing on the impact of trauma, abuse, and neglect in the early years of a child’s life. It was evident that there was a huge passion for bringing healing to children from “hard places” . . . foster care, orphanage settings, and neglectful environments. It was both encouraging and inspiring . . . for the healing that needs to take place in my family, but also for the millions of children who will grow up in neglectful environments and never make the human connections with a parent that is so needed for a child to succeed.
We also heard from many who are championing causes beyond adoption. There were people dedicated to addressing clean water, poverty, hunger, pregnant teens who may choose to parent, and girls who have been trafficked into the sex trade (READ THIS!). People there seemed very cognizant that adoption was only one arm of caring for orphans, and that families in third world countries need our help to stay together. While it was good to see that Christians are spearheading so many social justice causes, it was also, again . . . overwhelming. With each new ministry I learned about, I felt both inspired and burdened at the same time. We live with so much excess. So many do not. There is so suffering in this world, and this conference for me is both a reminder of the goodness of humanity, but also of the fact that there are many children who are victims of ugliness and cruelty, both directly and indirectly. (i.e., being ignored by those who hold the privilege).
I think there is something so powerful about child welfare advocates coming together in one place to look at best practice, to share stories, and to plan for the future. If you are interested, there is a discount early-bird rate that ends August 31st. If you are already planning to go, let me know!