I have a confession to make. I'm kind of embarrassed actually to even write this, but it is true.
As you know, I'm a Christian. I've never hid that or downplayed it and often my blog has been borderline offensive, most likely, to those of you who don't share my faith. But my adoption work has all been in the public sector.
As you may know, for the first eight years of my training and speaking in adoption, I was speaking to caseworkers and foster and adoptive parents at conferences around the country. And my jobs have always been in agencies whose goal is to find homes for foster children and it has been my passion to do so before they age out.
My experience with international adoption, other than our two from Guatemala, has been to try and find homes for the kids who have disrupted from an international adoptive placement. So I began to form a negative opinion about "well meaning people" who are not prepared to handle the children they bring from orphanages to the U.S.
I think this is why I have been skeptical about the orphan care and adoption movement in the evangelical church. In retrospect I'm not sure why I chose not to investigate it further ... maybe it was just a lack of time ... but I was a bit dismissive about the new "fad" of going and getting an orphan and bringing them to the U.S.
REFRESH changed all of that for me. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of people out there who are doing things that are much different than what I assumed. Very few of them are going to other countries to bring home infants are toddlers. Many are bringing home older kids, sibling groups, and kids with medical issues who are hard to place. They are doing so with much less financial support than those of us who adopt from foster care receive.
In addition, the orphan and adoption care ministries in many churches are doing a lot to promote the issue of waiting children adoption in the U.S. as well as supporting foster children. The book Orphanology that I finished yesterday, details all kinds of very cool programs that are supporting orphans all over the world, including us here in the U.S.
When I was at REFRESH I met some amazing people. People who are parenting children that are more difficult than my own and doing it with grace and dignity. People who may or may not have been expecting to have the challenges they do are facing them with God's help and making a big difference in the world.
I'm hoping to slowly get to know other folks and share my story. Mainly because of what I wrote here about encouraging people to prevent their lives from turning out like mine. The Orphan Care Movement is new and the majority of kids who have been adopted in the last decade are hitting their teen years about now or will be soon. Even most of the leaders and speakers in the movement do not have the "been there done that" stories that I have to share.
So I'm excited about possibilities in the future ... even if it is just meeting more amazing people like I met last weekend. I intend to begin to follow some blogs and to reach out to some of the folks out there who are in this journey with me. Maybe that's the one thing that I concluded after my weekend -- it isn't an "us and them" journey -- we are all on the same journey. It may look a bit different as to how we got here, but our kids are the same. FASD, brain trauma, and attachment are all the same whether they were acquired in an African village, an Eastern European orphanage, or the streets of Chicago.
I'm regretting my hasty misinformed judgments and am ready to move on and connect with others and broaden my base of influence... and support! REFRESH did more for me than I did for the people there for sure.
Enough rambling. You get my point.