November 10 & 11

Breakout Sessions


Please note the HHS approved sessions for 1.0 credit hours for Iowa licensed foster parents.

Working To Rebuild Attachment and Establish Trust With Your Child Room A

One of the primary areas of early childhood development impacted by trauma is the ability to attach to a caregiver in a healthy way. Disrupted attachment is hard to understand, let alone rebuild. In this session we will help you gain a full understanding of disrupted attachment, and walk through principles and strategies to help you repair and build trust with your child.

(Mike & Kristin Berry, The Resilient Caregiver) 

*Approved for 1.0 Credit Hour

FOR DADS ONLY!: A Unique Conversation for Men Room B

Guys, you are pouring yourself out in order to love and lead your families well through the foster care or adoption journey. It’s amazing, beautiful and exhausting. We get it, and you’re not alone. This workshop is designed for men, husbands and dads just like you that are living through shared experiences and can relate to your journey. You’ll be encouraged in the gospel, inspired in your calling and challenged to take your next best steps forward in a healthy, sustainable way.

(Jason Johnson, Director of Church Mobilization and Engagement with Christian Alliance for Orphans) 

The Joys, Highs and Lows Of Parenting As A Single Parent Room D

There is room and space for parenting as a single parent. Using our waiting time to change the lives of those that need us. 

(Peter Mutabazi, Now I Am Known)

God’s Plan For Adoption & Foster Care Student Center

In this breakout, we will delve into the heart of God’s plan for adoption and providing a home for the orphan. Using 2 Samuel 9 and other relevant passages, our goal is to understand how the gospel informs us of God’s plan for the care of orphans. This breakout will inspire and encourage attendees to be a part of God’s plan by offering love, support, and a forever home to children in need.

(Shaq Hardy, President of Orphan No More Foundation & Former Foster Youth)

How to Crush the Curse of Comparison Mezz 1

Comparison is said to be “an act of violence against oneself.”  It is the killer of joy and peace and a safe place to simply “be.”  Comparison shifts are focus across the room to another, rather than to the cross; to the Christ who calls us and equips us.  It affects us individually and affects our children, thus significantly impacting our families in potentially destructive ways.  Join our conversation in helping us to recognize the culprit of comparison and all it steals from us and from our family.  To recognize the essential need to “name it and tame it.”  Together we will discuss the need to press in and evaluate our own mindset and implement practices to contain this culprit by proclaiming biblical Truth, keeping our eyes on HIM as we recognize the true meaning of “success” is faithfulness.  Faithful to who and what He has created and called us to be.

(Mandy Litzke, Safe Harbor Orphan Care, My Village Ministries, Finally Home Foundation, Family Wellness)

Choosing To Thrive Room B

(During the dinner period)

Is trauma wearing you down?  Are you struggling to give your children what they need because you find yourself on empty, with little to nothing to give?  As trauma parents and parents of jewels with special needs and medical needs, our time is often consumed by the needs of our jewels.  Choosing to thrive is a passion for our presenter Maria, who lives it out every single day.

(Maria Hansen-Quine, LASW, MSW)

*Approved for 1.0 Credit Hour


How To Manage Disrespectful, Defiant, and Aggressive Behaviors Room A

It’s exhausting and defeating to try to make sense of, and manage, extreme behaviors with your children.  Most of the time, you’re in the middle of the grocery store when outbursts occur.  What if there was a proven plan to help you respond to behaviors effectively and bring calm to the middle of chaos?  In this session, we will walk you through a 4-step behavior response blueprint and go-to scripts you can use in multiple situations you may face with your child.

(Mike & Kristin Berry, The Resilient Caregiver) 

*Approved for 1.0 Credit Hour

How Does In Utero Drug and Alcohol Exposure Affect Behavior and Development Room B

Substance use during pregnancy is linked to physical, developmental and behavioral challenges from early childhood through adulthood.  Learn how in utero substance exposure can affect children, as well as who to partner with for your child’s success.

(Michelle Ewest, D.O., F.A.A.P) 

*Approved for 1.0 Credit Hour

From Surviving to Thriving Room D

So many people these days are just trying to survive.  It is my hope that after this session we will not only try to survive, but that we’ll see the possibility of thriving.  In this session we will not only learn why so many people are struggling, we will learn simple changes we can make to start thriving.  In this session we will focus on ways we can complete the stress response, reduce cortisol (the stress hormone that’s wreaking havoc on us), and regulate the nervous system.  This session will be a combination of educational and experiential.  I’m so excited to help you shift from merely surviving to thriving.  

(Darcie Van Voorst, Mental Health Therapist, Trainer, and Consultant)

Beauty In The Brokenness Student Center

We see brokenness in our stories and the stories of those we care for. In this breakout, we will look at how God’s promise of restoration brings beauty to the brokenness we all experience. Using stories from scripture and real-life examples, we will explore how God uses brokenness to bring about deeper intimacy with Him. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on and share their own experiences of brokenness and learn practical ways to trust in God’s promise of restoration.

(Shaq Hardy, President of Orphan No More Foundation & Former Foster Youth)

Returning To Your First Love Mezz 1

Returning to our first love is remembering- the “WHY” that drove us to say “YES.” Remembering our “WHY” helps us persevere when things are tough.

(Mandy Litzke, Safe Harbor Orphan Care, My Village Ministries, Finally Home Foundation, Family Wellness Instructor)

Creating A Home That Celebrates Diversity Mezz 2

The children God brings us are incredible gifts, who come with their own unique diversity. Learning the diversity of our new jewels is a steep learning curve for us as adoptive/foster parents. Unexpectedly we find ourselves having conversations around special needs, race, culture, identity (including adoption identity). Our call as adoptive parents is to be intentional with these conversations, while simultaneously creating a home environment that celebrates the beautiful diversity of our new family. Come and engage in a conversation around diversity where the following three questions will be answered:

  1. What is diversity
  2. Why diversity should matter to me as an adoptive/foster parent
  3. What I can do to implement diversity at home

(Maria Hansen-Quine, LASW, MSW)

The Adoption Tax Credit Works Room 1

The Adoption Tax Credit is one of the most misunderstood credits in the IRS code and we will help you understand it in this session. We will explain how the Adoption Tax Credit works, when to apply for it and the dollars amounts of the credit. There will be a PowerPoint presentation, then a question and answer time allotted. We have been blessed by adoption and want to help as many families as possible. 

(Becky Wilmoth, Adoption Tax Credit Specialist and Enrolled Agent for Bills Tax Service)

For Those With Questions: An Open and Honest Conversation Room B

You probably have questions, or thoughts, or fears or struggles….or, all of the above. And perhaps you’re not sure if you’re allowed to ask them or say them, or whether or not there’s a safe and understanding place to take them. Now there is. Join us for an unscripted conversational type breakout where you can begin to publicly process what has been largely personal and private in a safe and supportive place. Come with your questions, hopes, fears and dreams. Leave encouraged. 

(Jason Johnson, Director of Church Mobilization and Engagement with Christian Alliance for Orphans) 

Holistic Alternatives for Mental Health Room D

(During the lunch period)

Stress and trauma are two of the leading causes of mental health challenges.  We will take an in-depth look on the impact of stress and trauma on the brain and body.  Although therapy can be helpful for some people in their mental health journey, quality therapy isn’t always accessible (nor always needed!).  In this session we will explore holistic alternative for improving mental health.  Although mental health challenges are challenging, the solutions don’t have to be.

(Darcie Van Voorst, Mental Health Therapist, Trainer, and Consultant)

*Approved for 1.0 Credit Hour

Comforted in Brokenness to be a Comfort Student Center

This breakout is for anyone who desires to learn how to use their life experiences to comfort kids dealing with trauma.

(Shaq Hardy, President of Orphan No More Foundation & Former Foster Youth)

Simplifying When Life Feels Overwhelming Mezz 1

As a fellow adoptive mom, Erin Port, knows first hand how challenging life can get.  She founded Simple Purposeful Living the purpose of helping overwhelmed moms simplify areas of their life so they can make margin for what matters.  In this session, we will tackle some common headaches families face like simplifying meal time, simplifying daily routines & habits, and practical tips to get things done when life feels hard.  Together, we will simplify what doesn’t matter so you can focus on what does!  We will laugh and have fun a long the way!

(Erin Port, Founder of Simple Purposeful Living)

How To Choose An Adoption Agency Room 1

This session will be about how to choose an adoption agency, things to consider when looking at domestic and international agencies, and what questions to ask when choosing an agency.  We will show you resources that are available to help in the process of choosing an agency.  In addition, we will discuss various opportunities for grants to assist with the adoption costs.

(Sarah Hofland, New Horizons Adoption Agency

Staying Connected: Making Your Marriage a Priority Room B

(During the lunch period)

Often times in the foster and adoptive journey, one of the first things to take a “back seat” on the priority list is our marriages. This workshop is designed to help bring our marriages back to their rightful place – as one of the most important things we can focus on and pour into. We don’t just want marriages to survive the journey, but to thrive and grow because of it. That’s what this workshop is designed to help you with. 

(Jason Johnson, Director of Church Mobilization and Engagement with Christian Alliance for Orphans) 

Self-Compassion: A Prerequisite to Self-Care Room D

Parenting children from hard places will likely be the most challenging thing we will ever do in our life.  Left unchecked, the stress and overwhelm can overtake us.  Often, we are parents focus on how to help out children; in this session we will learn ways to better care for ourselves.  We will start by taking a look at how stress is impacting our overall well-being.  We will then explore how body-based approaches increases self-compassion which results in self-care becoming more natural.  I am humbles at the opportunity to explore this with you, and pray it is the beginning of your own healing journey.

(Darcie Van Voorst, Mental Health Therapist, Trainer, and Consultant)

Communicating Through Hard Emotions For The Parent/Child Relationship Student Center

(During the lunch period)

Do you ever feel like you don’t know what to say or how to respond when your child is being difficult or having a meltdown? Regardless of the age of your child or whether they came from hard places, we can sometimes feel like we’re speaking a different language and our parenting is ineffective. Whether you’re a veteran parent or preparing to become a parent, this session will help you understand how to communicate and engage the whole child when their emotions are intense and their behavior is challenging. From the perspective of an adoptive parent and Registered Play Therapist, you’ll learn trauma-informed, attachment-based ways to calm, connect, and correct a child so your relationship thrives. 

(Jill Thomas, LISW, RPT-S, PMH-C) 

*Approved for 1.0 Credit Hour

Don’t Go At It Alone, We Need One Another Mezz 1

(During the lunch period)

God has created us for connection and a desire for relationships: relationship with Him and relationship with one another. Soon after God perfectly created us and everything we needed – we broke it and sin entered the world. Ever since then, we find ourselves both in need of relationships and simultaneously aware of how difficult (and broken) relationships can get. The good news is that Jesus came to redeem the brokenness and He gave us instructions in His Word about how to care for each other. Come join us as we explore how to engage in community and look to one another for strength and support throughout life’s journey.  

(Vicky Wieben, LISW, RPT-S, Owner of Bright Light Counseling)

Trauma Informed Care Mezz 2

(During the lunch period)

This session will explore how Adverse Childhood Experience affect every aspect of a person’s life.  Research from Dr. Bruce Perry will be presented in such a way as to help parents and caregivers best deal with children’s trauma responses.  There is a difference between “being safe” and “feeling safe.”  Typical triggers will be introduced and discussed. Geared towards helping children who are or were in the foster care system.  Presented by a foster and adoptive parent who has “been there, done that.”


*Approved for 1.0 Credit Hour

Fighting For The Heart Of Your Family Room A

So many things attack today’s family that it’s hard to keep your head above water.  When you factor in children who have a trauma history, it’s often lonely, overwhelming, and isolating.  However, there is a way that families like ours can thrive.  In this session, we’ll explore influence and what it truly looks like for foster and adoptive parents.  Plus, we’ll get to the heart of the matter and walk through strategies to build lifelong trust and connection as a family unit.

(Mike & Kristin Berry, The Resilient Caregiver)

Infant Adoption: The Players In The Drama. The Experience - The Process - The Law Room B

Based on the Iowans For Adoption Power Point Presentation titled “EXPERIENCING ADOPTION,” this is the journey through an infant adoption as experienced by each of the players: The Birth Parents; The Infant: The Adopting Parents; The Adoption Services Provider; and the Attorneys.   All the decisions and interactions, the legal rights, and many events that happen between the major figures in an adoption, all described through the framework of the law. This is how adoption happens.  

(William Pearce, M.A., Founder of Adoption Associates of Iowa) 

Using Our Past As A Compass To Show Us What Turns To Take Room D

Fostering Kids with trauma needs us to revisit our own past to help us.  How my past trauma has helped me know how to best to be there for my kids. 

(Peter Mutabazi, Now I Am Known)

Q&A with a Former Foster Youth Student Center

During this breakout, bestselling author and international speaker, Tori Hope Petersen will answer the burning questions you have for a former foster youth. In this engaging and discussion based breakout Tori will openly share about her experience to equip and encourage listeners! 

(Tori Hope Petersen, Bestselling Author, International Speaker and Founder of Beloved Initiative)

*Approved for 1.0 Credit Hour

Adoption Is God’s Redemptive Response To Brokenness Mezz 1

Starting an adoption journey can be scary and full of unknowns. Locking arms with someone that has been down this road is a beneficial and necessary way to honor birth families, adoptive families, and adoptees. Faithful Adoption Consultants advocates from the adoptive family, but in doing so, teaches them how to love all those involved in the adoption process BIG and WELL

(Courtney Lott, Co-Executive Director of FAC and Lead Adoption Consultant)

How The Church Can Recruit & Support Foster Care Families Mezz 2

Jesus’s example shows us his heart to care for the vulnerable.  God created the church for community.  This combination makes the Church the perfect place for foster care.  This session will equip churches to recruit and support foster families within your church.

(Emily Easton, Four Oaks Connections Recruitment Coordinator)

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