Friday, July 27, 2012

How's NACAC Year 7: The Re-Ignition of Passion

In case you've been my blog reader for a while, you might know that in 2005 I started a tradition of blogging about NACAC from the conference.

Here's the history of those posts.

Pittsburgh 2005

Long Beach 2006

Tampa 2007

Columbus 2009

Hartford 2010

Denver 2011

Being an adoptive parent or working in the field of adoption can be absolutely exhausting.  We can lose our way at times and forget why it is we do what we do.  We can find ourselves almost in a fog ... overwhelmed by the day to day things that surround and plague us.  But NACAC is a place to go to recognize and reignite the passion that moved us forward in the first place.

Remember before you got that first adoption job or before you had that first placement?  I sure do.  Bart and I were out to change the world, one child at a time.  Having been convinced that keeping kids from aging out of foster care was one of the best ways to change the world, we dove into adoption with lots of gusto.  But somewhere along the way we faced some pretty serious days and were repeatedly disappointed.

The same thing happened as I began to work in the adoption field.  Helping friends adopt the first two kids I ever placed was a rush like none other.  Being involved in a match -- or sometimes as many as 80-100 a year -- was adrenaline producing.   And it was like a drug-- this passion -- moving me forward, onward, upward.  But then there was the first time a match fell through - the first time a child I placed ended up in residential treatment -- the first time one of the kids I placed disrupted... and suddenly I started wondering why I had chosen to do what I do.

But each year, as I went to NACAC, it all came back to me.  I rubbed shoulders with, hugged, talking to, listened to, and talked with an audience of people who shared my passion.  Some of them had forgotten it too -- and being together somehow reminded us once again.

In recent conference my passion has been rekindled and reignited by being around people who have heard me speak in the past -- just today I saw so many.  It was so fulfilling to listen as they shared with me how something I had said at a past NACAC conference or other event where I spoke changed their lives in a positive way.

So being here helps me to remember.    I remember that children grow up better in families.  I remember that empowering parents to change themselves leads to more successful placements.  I remember that together -- these people that I have grown to love and I -- ARE making the world a better place because we have adopted or worked in adoption.

Bart and I always leave with new ideas of ways to better parent our children.  I leave with a new desire to be even more effective in my work.  And this year Bart was even inspired to start a new blog about adoption and spirituality called Adoptionality:  Spirituality for Adoptive Parents.

NACAC is that time each year when those of us who are in the trenches can come together and see that flicker of passion in the eyes of someone else who also sees it in us.  That passion reignites ours and suddenly we join together to become a powerful fire.   We take that fire back to our families, to our counties, to our agencies so that people see it in us and their passion is reignited as well.

My role at NACAC has changed.  I have gone from being a wide-eyed observer that nobody ever heard of to someone that many recognize.  But I still need reignition.  I still need to come every year to see and feel passion. 

Tomorrow my good friend Pat will conclude the 38th Annual NACAC Convention with a closing keynote and it will be officially over.  But the rekindled fire of passion from the conference will spread across the country ultimately igniting others who will go on to change this world one child at a time.

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