November 8 & 9

Breakout Sessions


Staying Connected: Making Your Marriage a Priority Room B

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)

Communicating Through The Hard Emotions For The Parent/Child Relationship Room D

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)

Building & Maintaining Resiliency Student Center

How do I keep going even when I feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and defeated as a caregiver? It’s a question we often ask ourselves, especially when we’re dealing with extreme behaviors. But, there is hope in the midst of this. In this session, we will walk you through a practical, 3-part strategy to help you build and maintain resiliency 365 days a year. 

(Mike & Kristin Berry, The Resilient Caregiver)

A Journey Through Both The Brokenness & Redemption In Adoption ROOM 1

Sharing my story as a mom who had a heart for the fatherless and how my heart was opened to also include women in crisis and how the two work hand in hand.

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

Secondary Trauma & Biblical Self Care Room A

This breakout will explore the importance of Biblically informed self-care. Topics include the risk of secondary trauma and burnout for foster and adoptive parents, a Biblical foundation for self-care, creating space for self-care in a busy family, and practical ideas for foster and adoptive parents to build actual self-care into their lives.

(Jamie Finn, Foster The Family)

REFRAMING THE STRUGGLE - Finding Strength When Things Are Hard Room B

A breakout session for foster/adoptive parents and/or those considering it. We address the fear/ apprehension of “not having what it takes” and walk through a number of scriptures/stories and examples to help them “reframe” some thinking through those experiences through the lens of the gospel.

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

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, LMSW/therapist/trainer/consultant)

Understanding Sensory Behaviors Student Center

Children with a trauma history may also have sensory seeking, or avoidant behaviors. But how do we as caregivers connect with our children in spite of these behaviors? In this session we will break down the primary sensory behaviors, discuss why they occur, and walk through strategies you can use to successfully care for your child and help them feel safe and secure in the process. 

(Mike & Kristin Berry, The Resilient Caregiver)

Trauma Informed Care Room 1

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.”


The Hard Work Of Rest: Cultivating Thriving Souls On The Journey Room B

This session focuses on why caring for ourselves and our souls is critical to not just surviving the journey, but thriving on it. You can read more about the ideas expressed in this session here:


(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 as parents focus on how to help our 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 humbled at the opportunity to explore this with you, and pray it is the beginning of your own healing journey.

(Darcie Van Voorst, LMSW/therapist/trainer/consultant)

Behavior Response & Regulation Strategies Student Center

We know that a trauma history often dictates present behavior. But how can successfully parent children who are often disrespectful, defiant, aggressive, or obstinate? In this workshop we will walk through a proven framework you can apply to your parenting to help you respond to your child’s behavior in a way that brings calm in the chaos. You’ll also learn valuable strategies to help your child return to regulation during big feeling moments. 

(Mike & Kristin Berry, The Resilient Caregiver)

Coming Soon Room 1

Coming Soon

Michelle Ewest Room B

(During the lunch period)

Coming Soon

Building Strong Foundations: A Workshop for Foster and adoptive parents/advocates on forming healthy and supportive relationships Room D

(During the lunch period)

In this empowering workshop tailored for foster and adoptive parents/advocates, we delve into the intricate art of forming healthy and supportive relationships. Jim Rohn’s words resonate deeply as we explore the impact of the people we surround ourselves with on our personal and family journeys. Despite the challenges that come with not choosing our initial environments or families, this workshop is designed to challenge and guide you in reshaping the way you navigate relationships.

Drawing from personal experiences of overcoming foster care challenges, our facilitator shares a compelling narrative of resilience, detailing the key relationships that played pivotal roles in becoming a successful husband and father, fostering a healthy family dynamic.

This workshop is a unique opportunity for foster and adoptive parents/advocates to gain valuable insights and practical guidance in creating an environment conducive to long-term success for their families. Join us as we embark on a journey to build strong foundations and foster relationships that stand the test of time.       
(Justin Black, Redefining Normal)

Rest For The Restless Heart (A Session for Women) Student Center

(During the lunch period)

Our hearts can be so prone to restlessness. Trying to find our worth and value in the things of this world. Trying to find our hope and happiness in the circumstances we are living in. But we end up weary, exhausted, anxious, guilt-ridden and drowning. Christ Jesus has abundantly more for us than this! He desires for our hearts to rest in Him alone, trusting Him with our past, present and future! Come join Nicole Young as she tells her personal testimony and opens the Word of God to share the transforming power of God’s grace and the rest He wants us to live in everyday.

(Nicole Young)

The Adoption Tax Credit Works Room 1

(During the lunch period)

This session is designed to help adoptive families, caseworkers, agencies and attorneys understand how the adoption tax credit works and how it helps families plan their financial decisions surrounding adoption. We will explain when to claim the credit and how to claim the credit on their tax return. The amount of the adoption tax credit and income exclusion will be discussed, along with the Modified Adjusted Gross Income limits.

We at Bills Tax Service have been blessed by adoption.  Our objective is to help as many families as possible understand this amazing credit. There is so much misinformation out there that we want to make sure families use this credit.

We walk will through a simulated tax return, show how it affects your return, how to carry it forward, what documentation you will need if the IRS requests documentation.

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

Attached Foster/Adoptive Parenting Room A

Secure attachment is the greatest gift we can give our foster/adopted children. This breakout will define attachment theory, explore attachment styles, and provide practical tips for attachment rich parenting.

(Jamie Finn, Foster The Family)

Funding Your Adoption Room B

Private domestic and intercountry adoptions are expensive. In fact, data continues to show that the high cost is the #1 reason families considering adoption decide not to move forward. During this session, you’ll learn about current adoption grants, loans and fundraisers available along with their requirements for eligibility. Come learn how to fully fund your adoption because money should never be an obstacle to a child having a forever family.

(Jared DeLong, Executive Director of Both Hands Foundation and Madison Ziegenbien, Program Manager with Pathways For Little Fee)

Embracing Love Within: A Workshop On Practicing Self-Love and Healing Through Trauma Room D

Who shaped your definition of love? What habits or people have contribute to your our healing and success? It says in scripture that we should love our neighbors we love ourselves but how many of us have been pouring from an empty cup? The burnout retention rate for fostering adoptive parents is extremely high. Second and third hand trauma is running rampant within families and eventually destroying our marriages and personal identity. Foster care alumni Justin Black explores how God can fill our cup in order to be used as servants for His kingdom.

During this lesson, we will give you the tools you need to take the next steps toward self-love and creating your own happiness with what you have been given. Only then will individuals experience professional and personal growth.

(Justin Black, Redefining Normal)

Connected Families Parent Coaching Model Student Center

This is looking at the for messages that we want our children to receive in order to build a healthy identity in them. Guides parents on how to parent with these messages in mind. The for messages are:  You are safe with me (Foundation), You are loved no matter what (Connect), You are called and capable (Coach), You are responsible for your actions (Correct).

(Vicky Wieben, LISW, RPT-S + Owner of Bright Light Counseling in Johnston, Iowa)

Infant Adoption: The Players In The Drama. The Experience - The Process - The Law Room 1

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)

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