Last year I attended an incredible adoption conference called Together for Adoption. There, for the first time, I saw the author of my favorite adoption book: Until We All Come Home. I didn’t brave the crowd to fight my way in for a brief handshake, I did what I usually do with celebrities: I admired from afar. Both Kim and I were attendees at Together for Adoption last year and both of us agree that it was well worth while. This year it will be even better.
Of course the founders will give you lots of reasons that the Together for Adoption Conference will be better this year, (I’ll get to that in a minute) but for me, one reason was the clincher. Kim de Blecourt is one of the presenters! That was what tipped the scale in convincing me to pry into my incredibly busy schedule to attend Together for Adoption this year. If you don’t understand why I would say that, then you need to read her book. Kim spent over a year in Ukraine, refusing to leave without her new son. I won’t spoil the end of the story, but Kim has become an icon for people stuck in the middle of adoptions in foreign countries where bureaucracy has created gridlock. Kim’s great faith (she reminds me of my wife, Amy), tenacity (she reminds me of me), and optimism (she’s like no one I have met, before), make people believe that anything is possible. If you are concerned about orphans, or if you just need an energy drink for your faith, read Kim’s book. If you ever get the opportunity to meet her or hear her speak, don’t pass it up. Kim maintains a blog called Nourished Hearts. The articles are well worth your time, but at the top, right now, you can click on a link where Kim is hosting a contest for three lucky winners who will receive free registration to the 2014 Together for Adoption Conference. Here’s the link: http://nourishedhearts.com/contest/contest-together-for-adoption-conference/
The best part of last year’s Together for Adoption Conference was that breakout sessions were taught by real people who had experienced the things they taught about.
For quite some time, Christian Adoption has taken a beating. Many were of the opinion that Evangelicals only cared about converting naïve orphaned children to Christianity. My attendance last year at Together for Adoption convinced me that the conference was about the best ways to help orphans in a very practical sense. Breakout sessions that I attended were outstanding. Together for Adoption was the only adoption related event I have ever attended where I was not presenting and I spent the entire time soaking up what others had so carefully prepared. I attended sessions on troubled child adoption that talked about families in crisis. Boy… We’ve been there! Another session I went to was done by adult siblings where one was the biological son to his parents and his little sister was adopted from India. I was fascinated listening to Nemily Johnson talk about growing up in a white family in “white” Wyoming. She and her brother helped me to better understand the relationship between my biological children and the ones that we adopted. I attended a session on Special Needs adoption and was overwhelmed. To me, the best part of last year’s Together for Adoption Conference was that breakout sessions were taught by real people who had experienced the things they taught about.
The theme for this year’s Together for Adoption Conference is Urgency and Complexity. I couldn’t have come up with a more fitting subject, myself. The problems surrounding orphans and the best ways to help them are very complex and we need to know what we are doing if we are to do more good than damage in an area that is filled with wolves in sheep’s clothing. But that doesn’t mean we can drag our feet while trying to figure out what to do. Orphans needs are urgent. And when they don’t receive help, they often die. We need to stop believing that we can solve the world’s orphan problem by throwing food and clean water at it. The problem is far more complex than that.
Together for Adoption is an Evangelical Christian organization. Breakout sessions are alternated with chapel worship of an Evangelical nature. No one would be forced to attend the chapel services if they only wanted to attend breakout sessions, which are more secular and practical in nature. Those of you who follow my writing, know that Amy is the one of great faith in our relationship, and that while I do consider myself a believer, I lean more to my engineering background where I can calculate answers, and never need to “just accept” anything. That being said, historically, I have found myself at odds with more than one evangelical pastor.
Dan Cruver, pastor, and president/co-founder of Together for Adoption, went out of his way during the closing session to make attendees feel comfortable and welcome, whether or not they shared the same commitment level with others in the service.
Last year I didn’t know if I would feel comfortable or not in the worship services during Together for Adoption, but I decided to attend the first one and see how it went. After the first, I never missed one. Dan Cruver, pastor, and president/co-founder of Together for Adoption, went out of his way during the closing session to make attendees feel comfortable and welcome, whether or not they shared the same commitment level with others in the service.
So, if you want to educate yourself on how to best help orphans, if you are part of a family where adoption plays a part – and you want to do better, or if you just want to stand with me in line, to meet Kim de Blecourt (I’m gonna do it this year!), do yourself and your family a favor. Make the time to attend this year’s Together for Adoption Conference on October 17th and 18th in Greenville, South Carolina. Here’s the registration link: http://www.togetherforadoption.org/2014/
Oh, and Dan… Thank you. When I try to imagine how Jesus would treat those who are trying, I believe it would be the same way that you did last year at the end of the conference. What a remarkable response to the question: WWJD? You are awesome.
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