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Information Overload

September 20, 2011

I will eventually get back to our adoption journey. I left y’all hanging at the completion of the home study, and there is so much more to tell. But I just wanted to get some thoughts out while they are still swirling around in my head. This past weekend, I went to the Hope for Orphans Institute. It was two days of incredibly useful and awesomely overwhelming information. If you click on the link, you will see the description for the conference is “Preparing the Church for today’s toughest adoption issues.” Topics covered included at-risk and special needs adoptions, adoption disruption (when a child is removed from his/her adoptive home) and adoption counseling services. Sounds intense, right? Well, it certainly was.

As soon as we started on our adoption journey, I started plugging into the plethora of adoption-related resources available via facebook, twitter, adoption bloggers and various other outlets. I just wanted as much information as possible. Most of the sites and organizations I was following would post information about various adoption/orphan care conferences going on throughout the country. Usually, they were nowhere near where I live and therefore cost-prohibitive for me to attend. Then the Hope for Orphans conference was posted on the ABBA Fund Blog. The subject matter seemed a little scary, to be perfectly honest, but it was the first conference I had seen that was within a drive-able distance, so I decided to go for it. A call to my folks to watch my kids, a call to my sweet cousin to crash at her house over the weekend, and it was done. I was going.

On my drive to Dallas, I prayed that God would help me listen well. I just wanted to learn what He would have me learn. I was well aware what an undeserved blessing it was to be able to get away for something like this, and I didn’t want to squander the opportunity. I asked God to give me ears to hear. Also, I knew, just from the brief description of the conference, that there would likely be some facts or discussions that might tempt to me fear, so I asked God to help me not be afraid because of any of the information I would hear but instead to take it and use it to become a better parent.

Friday morning, I arrived at The Hope Center in Plano and took my seat at one of the front tables (because I’m THAT girl). I sort of held my breath as we were welcomed and prayed for, able to tell just from the introduction that I was about to hear some heavy stuff. And boy did I ever. It started with the first speaker and didn’t stop. I scribbled furiously in the provided notebook the entire time. I learned so much that it would take me forever to list it all here. So I’ll just share a few highlights. Some of it I knew already, some I didn’t, but I all learned with new urgency and heard from fresh perspective.

I learned that the adoption journey will not end when we bring our child home. That is the beginning of our journey. I learned that I will need more wisdom, patience, love, understanding and compassion that I can even imagine at this moment or can even fathom having right now in order to parent well. I learned that the pain and loss intrinsic in every single adoption (ie, losing birth parents, siblings, homes, birth countries, not to mention the trauma of abuse or neglect that is often part of the equation) is something that can and will manifest itself in a variety of ways and at a variety of child development stages, so parents must be ever-mindful and sensitive to it. I learned that the Church has a lot of work to do in becoming a place where adoptive parents who are struggling can go for help, assistance, love, compassion and kindness.

Most of all, though, I learned that I have a lot to learn. This institute opened my eyes to the vast amount of knowledge Tim and I will need to obtain in order to meet the needs of our new child. It opened my eyes to how even more desperately in need of God’s wisdom, mercy and help we are for this journey. It opened my eyes to the great needs adopted kids and adoptive parents have and how the Church should be responding to provide support for those needs. I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend this conference and for all God used it to teach me. As I process all I heard in the next days and weeks, I have a feeling I will continually be referring back to some or other part of it on this blog.

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