We were so thrilled to greet all the wonderful prospective adoptive parents on Saturday. Being up early on a Saturday makes it all worth it when you see such beautiful smiling faces. They were prompt, eager to learn, and grateful for the granola bars in their snack bags.
The morning started out with the basics of how to choose the right adoption agency from a team made up of Herbie and Daniel from Lifeline Children's Services and Ryan with America World Adoption. They were great folks to get us started bright and early!
We also had the privilege of hearing from Dr. Jeannie Zoppi who addressed some frequently asked questions from those considering adoption. She tackled some hard questions and common misconceptions, like "Will we really love our baby? Will our baby really love us?" Our prospective parents were able to share some of their personal worries and concerns. We learned from Dr. Zoppi that the worries of adoptive parents are very similar to the worries that biological parents experience before birth.
Next, Kelly Ellison of Your Adoption Finance Coach taught us the "tricks of the trade" in financing your adoption. She gave some tools - tools that really work - that couples can utilize to make their adoption more affordable. The first step is the simplest but the most important: Tell your inspirational story.
After a delicious all-American lunch buffet we heard from a panel who shared their personal stories. Heidi Cox (Gladney Center for Adoption) and Susan Cox (Holt International) tackled legal questions and questions about race and identity in adoption, while Janelle Ison talked about her experience as a birthmother, Lauren Koch as an adopted child, and "Jake's Dad" (sweetest baby ever!!) as an adoptive father. After a week of discussing policy and practice with adoption service providers - the paperwork, the liaisons, the foreign governments, the counseling, the accreditation, etc.- it felt good to get back to the heart of the matter. Needless to say, no one who stood up was able to finish their story without getting emotional. While the panelists, and participants for that matter, dried their eyes, we got started with our raffle drawing. These folks chose from either Searching for the You We Adore (a beautiful and heartwarming children's book on adoption) or Castaway Kid (a story about life in an orphanage).
After lunch, we heard about how adoptive parents can support their children, specifically those adopted through foster care, and build lasting, love bonds with the child after they have experienced trauma and/or loss. Samira and Ellen with D.C. Child and Family Services talked about the 107,000 children who are available for adoption through foster care in our country. If you're interested in adoption through foster care, please contact us!
The last session was a breakout - on open domestic adoption and building attachment after an intercountry adoption for the ladies and adoption from a man's point of view for the guys. For the gals, Kris with Bethany Christian Services delivered (again) a wonderful talk on how to build a lasting bond with your adopted child and Tamara (Adoptions from the Heart) talked about the benefits of choosing an open domestic adoption. The guys heard from Sam (Adoptions from the Heart) who facilitated an informal discussion on the feelings and thoughts of the adoptive father throughout the process.
|Mixing and mingling with exhibitors|
This year's conference was so wonderful and we want to thank everyone who put so much effort and work into making it nearly perfect. We're always looking for ways to improve, so we encourage you to contact us if you have any feedback you'd like to share with us! (And get excited: we are looking for a new venue for next year to make travel more convenient for everyone! Nashville, perhaps? Let us know where you'd like to go!)
All in all, it was a great conference. Lots of heartfelt stories, best practice recommendations, and stimulating conversations. We are so glad we could have so many professionals and prospective parents join us. We want you to know that we recognize and appreciate all the hard work you do for families. Your labor is a labor of love, and we are proud to support you.
Until next year, keep up the good work! We'll see you in 2013!!