10 May 2013


I'm still whirling around a bit as I "unpack" from Summit 9. As I look back over my notes & hand-outs, I am flooded over with such a sense of satisfaction. The kind you get from eating just-the-right amount of your very-most-favorite foods - not the satisfaction from seeing a car get pulled-over that recently sped past you on the highway. Filled-up, content, satisfaction. That.

I should back up a little though. There might be a couple of you that aren't really sure what Summit 9 is or why we went.

The Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) was started to bring a sense of unity to the adoption/orphan care world - rather than a bunch of churches/organizations doing their own thing their own way, there was a desire to come together toward the common goal.

"The Christian Alliance for Orphans unites more than 100 respected Christian organizations and a national network of churches.  Working together, our joint initiatives inspire, equip and connect Christians to reflect God’s heart in caring for orphans in adoption, foster care and global orphan care initiatives." [from CAFO homepage]

They decided to "leave logos and egos at the door." The first Summit had 39 people in attendance. This year there were over 2500!

You might remember that I wasn't sure if we were the right fit for Summit 9. After all, our church doesn't have an orphan care ministry and we don't work for any orphan care organizations either. Aaand we didn't win a free registration.

But God. He always leads well when you are listening, and we were and He did. Brad and I had a sense that we should go, and we had an honest-to-goodness offer from Barbie to watch all four boys for us. We started looking at breakout sessions and considering which might be most beneficial. We were leaning toward the sessions that helped with starting an orphan care ministry within your church. We weren't sent by our church. We hadn't even discussed it church leadership. It just made sense to us even if it didn't really make sense at all.

You see, through our own adoption journey we learned a lot about the foster care system. While feeling like we were "fighting the system" to get to finalization; the reality is that "the system" is understaffed and overwhelmed. There aren't enough caseworkers for all of the cases and their are never enough foster parent homes. Not only are caseworkers carrying more cases than is desirable - the cases are rarely clear cut and often heavy. Add to that heavy, complicated caseload the pressure to find a local foster home when there are none. This, to us, is a place where the Church can step in and love well. And the time is now.  It will likely be messy.

As you know, we've already collected over 40 bags for our local foster care office's supply closet. The caseworkers can grab a bag for each child that comes in to care and get rid of their trash bags. You know, it's the caseworkers that hate to see children carrying belongings in trash bags? They requested bags for their children. We've also collected more outfits than I can count so there are items for kiddos to wear if they need something when they come in to care. A caseworker won't have to run out to Wal-mart hoping to find a suitable outfit for a child in the midst of crisis. A couple posts on Facebook and these needs are fulfilled. I can only imagine what could happen if our churches were organized to help in this way.

After going to Summit 9, I don't have to imagine as much.   We got a glorious glimpse into all the ways God is working in the adoption/orphan care movement.  It was refreshing just to see the number of people, churches, organizations gathered around this central focus. 

I will probably blog a bit more about some of the individual highlights we experienced.  For now, just know we were reassured over and over again that we were right where we were supposed to be.

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