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Redeeming the Wait: Conference #1

December 10, 2011

Starting on the adpotion journey automatically thrust us into a world we knew nothing about. Did you know there is an entire world of blogs, conferences, books, articles, experts and interactions between all manner of orphan care advocates, whether that be adoptive parents, social workers, pastors, just to name a few? I certainly did not. But at some point during the wait, we realized we needed to start tapping into this world to find out what resources were available to help us, not just with the adoption process, but the lifetime of parenting that would follow. Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I am a giant nerd and I love to learn. I love to sit in class and take notes and ask questions and get answers. So, I started following blogs and put myself on mailing lists so that I would know when conferences or trainings were coming to my town. After months of notifications from various sources, I finally found a conference that was close enough that I could drive. It was the Hope for Orphans Institute   in Dallas. The subject matter sounded a little intimidating, covering subjects such as at-risk and disrupted adoptions. And yet, after looking at the list of experts who would be speaking, I knew the information taught would be so invaluable that I just had to go.

Upon arriving, I quickly realized I was just about the only pre-adoptive “waiting” parent there. Almost everyone else was an adoption professional (social worker, counselor, therapist, etc.) or a current adoptive parent, in the trenches, dealing with difficult circumstances with their kids. So I just listened. And I learned a ton. As speakers explained their work with foster and adopted children, including the range of difficult behaviors the kids display as a result of the trauma experienced in their past, I realized that Tim and I are going to have our work cut out for us. Please don’t misunderstand. I would never say that every single adopted child will be more difficult to parent than a biological child simply because of their adoption. That’s a common misconception and absolutely untrue. But what this conference taught me is that children who have experienced neglect, trauma, abuse, loss and grief, as the children coming from foster care and orphanages sometimes have, have a great number of scars on their hearts, some of them hidden, that parents and caregivers must be diligent to be sensitive to in order to help their children heal.

I am grateful for the work of Hope for Orphans and how they are serving the church by equipping those in the body of Christ to know how to serve and love the children from hard places in their midst. I am grateful for their willingness to put on this conference and talk about some of the hardest issues faced by these children and their parents, providing vital information, support and care to those in these situations.

After I got home, I was talking to Tim a mile a minute about what I learned, and I told him that it was strange because I felt like all the things I was telling him should make me afraid. I mean, I learned a lot of hard things and heard some really sad stories about children who have abuse and neglect in their past and how it affects them. Shouldn’t that “scare us away?” But it didn’t. It certainly opened my eyes and gave me a desire to learn and become more informed and equipped to love and parent my child in such a way as to help them heal. It certainly let me know that I have work to do, that this will be hard, likely the hardest thing we’ve ever done. And yet in the midst of all that, I just felt peace. I knew that this is what God had called us to and that He would equip us and give us all the strength, wisdom and grace we need for the journey.

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