Together for Adoption & Fostering Canada 2019 Breakouts

​​Breakout Session 1 Options: Saturday morning (10:30-11:30 am)

101 - “Adoption 101” with Heather Richardson 

Having spent years learning about issues surrounding adoption and fostering (attachment, trauma, safeguarding, lifebooks, FASD and more), Heather now uses her knowledge gained to facilitate an adoptive parent support groups and provide support to families on their adoption journey as a Parent Liaison with Adopt4life. She is also a PRIDE trainer with a local agency, a trained advocate and has her certification in Critical Incident Management. She was an active member on her Foster Parent Association Board and with various focus groups and committees. Always seeking to make a difference for adoptive families’ journeys, Heather has become sought after for speaking engagements on the topics of openness, transitions, adoption and adoption resources. 

Heather has years of knowledge and experience as an adoptive and foster parent. She and her husband have 3 beautiful children and were foster parents for over 10 years to many children. They are also kin parents and have one heart child who is 24 years old. As part of their journey, they became WrapAround parents to a few special youth who have left care. 

102 - “Starting a Ministry for Vulnerable Children” with Kristjen & Tamara Hull

Whether you are just getting started or are expanding an existing ministry, this breakout is uniquely tailored to help you take the best next steps in your church’s foster care and adoption journey. We will construct a general framework of principles for you to uniquely apply to your ministry as well as help you form an action plan of practical “next steps” moving forward

Kristjen is a high school teacher in Surrey, BC and Tamara is a Circus Ringmaster, also known as, a stay-at-home mom :) They attend Southgate Church, where they are both active in leadership, as well as lead the "Above and Beyond Orphan Ministry," responding to the needs of adoptive and foster families in their community. Shortly after getting married in 2009, they felt a strong call to care for the widow, orphan and neglected of this world. They became the directors of ABBA Canada Foundation in 2011, helping families fund adoptions and bringing adoption awareness to the Church. They live in Langley, BC with their four amazing children, ages 7, 5, 3 & 1. 

103 - Safe Families with Jennifer Francis

Safe Families is a movement fueled by compassion to keep children safe and families intact. Through Host Families, Family Friends, and Family Coaches, we temporarily host children and provide a network of support to families in crisis while they get back on their feet, so they can be safe families for their own children. We aim to keep children out of the foster care system and to provide supportive relationships that will give them stability in the long run. In Canada we are currently operating in six communities: Toronto, London, Winnipeg, Kitchener-Waterloo, Windsor and Niagara. The movement is spreading across the country and we are working on opening new chapters in more cities and provinces.

Jen Francis is the founder and Executive Director of Safe Families Canada. As a missionary kid during her childhood, she saw first-hand the suffering of orphans and vulnerable children around the globe and now works to engage local Canadian churches in caring for at-risk children in their own communities and keeping their families together through Safe Families. Jen is married to Nick and they love Jesus and thoroughly enjoy raising their kids, Emma and Josiah, together in downtown Toronto.

104 - “Snowplow Parents: Strategies for supporting a child with ADHD or FASD” with Jacob Moon

In this session Jacob Moon will talk about raising a child with ADHD and FASD and how the behavioral challenges have caused him and his wife to learn more about becoming better at 'Snowplowing', or clearing the path so the child can succeed and avoid stumbling on his/her path to success at play, school and at home. ​

Jacob Moon has been recording and performing full time for the past 20 years, and is released his 11th CD recently with his new band, The Commissionaires. He has shared the stage with Gordon Lightfoot, Ron Sexsmith and just recorded a song that will appear on the next Rush CD. His music has taken him all over the world, and his heart for justice has led him to advocate on behalf of children living in poverty. He and his wife Allison have adopted three children in Hamilton over the past 9 years, and he speaks and sings regularly across Canada about that experience.

105 - Honouring Sibling Relationships with Sue Badeau

This workshop will engage the audience in discussions about the importance of the sibling bond, the sibling experience for children in foster care and strategies for parenting sibling groups even in challenging situations involving blended families, shared trauma histories, “parentified” siblings, raising one or more siblings who have been separated from other siblings and more. 

This workshop will include a powerpoint presentation and interactive discussion on the 
following topics:
· Importance of the Sibling Bond
· The Sibling Experience for Children in Foster Care
· Tips and Tools for Parents when raising brothers and sisters together
· When Siblings are Separated – maintaining the bond even when the siblings are not placed together
· Managing a large-family household after sibling adoption 

Sue Badeau, is a nationally known speaker, writer and consultant. She is former president of the North American Council on Adoptable Children and current board member of Justice for Families and has worked closely with the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children, All Families, National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Casey Family Programs and the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care. She trains adoptive, foster, and kinship caregivers and child welfare professionals across the country on trauma, parenting, permanency for older youth, family engagement, self-care and many other topics. Sue and her husband, Hector, are lifetime parents of 22 children, two by birth and 20 adopted and have also served as foster parents and kin caregivers to more than 75 children.  They have authored books on permanency and trauma including, Are We There Yet: The Ultimate Road Trip, Adopting and Raising 22 Kids, Building Bridges of Hope: A Coloring Book for Adults Caring for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma, and the child’s companion version, “Bubbles and Butterflies” both illustrated by their daughter Chelsea Badeau.

106 - “Loving our children relentlessly and with intention like our Heavenly Father loves us” with Dr. Carmen Ferber

How we can be like our Good Shepherd who left the 99 to go after one? In our intentional commitment to our children during those challenging circumstances that go beyond what we could have imagined. Come and hear an experienced adoptive mom and professional share her heart for loving children as God has loved us.

Dr. Carmen Ferber is the Executive Director of Morningstar. She has her Doctor of Ministry in Christian Counselling Psychology. Dr. Carmen Ferber is a mom of 20 of which only three are biological, a gramma of 22 and has been married almost 43 years to the same man. She is above all thankful, grateful and blessed.

Breakout Session 2 Options: Saturday  (11:30 am -12:30 pm)

201 - Fostering 101 with Heather Richardson

I love children, I can do this! Love is given, but it takes more than love. Have you considered becoming a foster parent, are you new to the fostering world? What does it take? How does it work? What options are out there? What supports are there? This breakout session will discuss both private and public fostering in Ontario. Examining yourself, your family and your network to determine if you are ready. What skills are essential? What training or background knowledge is needed? Session includes a chance to ask questions to resource parents from both sectors and the opportunity to learn what it’s like.

Heather has years of knowledge and experience as an adoptive and foster parent. She and her husband have 3 beautiful children and were foster parents for over 10 years to many children. They are also kin parents and have one heart child who is 24 years old. As part of their journey, they became WrapAround parents to a few special youth who have left care. 

202 - Fundraising for Adoption with Kristjen and Tamara Hull

The high cost of domestic and international adoption can be daunting. This workshop will introduce participants to the ministry of ABBA Canada, an adoption funding option in Canada. Learn how your church can support adoption through ABBA Canada, how your family might secure some funding assistance, and how you can creatively raise financial support for your adoption.

Kristjen is a high school teacher in Surrey, BC and Tamara is a Circus Ringmaster, also known as, a stay-at-home mom :) They attend Southgate Church, where they are both active in leadership, as well as lead the "Above and Beyond Orphan Ministry," responding to the needs of adoptive and foster families in their community. Shortly after getting married in 2009, they felt a strong call to care for the widow, orphan and neglected of this world. They became the directors of ABBA Canada Foundation in 2011, helping families fund adoptions and bringing adoption awareness to the Church. They live in Langley, BC with their four amazing children, ages 6, 4, 2 & 9 months. 

203 - “Rethinking children's ministry: creating an environment of safety” with Lorelee Siemens

God has called the church to care for widows and orphans. The church is rising up and answering that call. As the members in your church begin welcoming children into their homes, what can you do to support them? I am going to look at what the child needs, what the family needs, and what your church volunteer needs. I am going to give you practical ways and step by step guides to help the foster and adoptive families in your church thrive.


Lorelee Siemens is a speaker, blogger, and podcaster.  She speaks at pro-life events, churches and adoption groups. Lorelee is a pro-life and adoption advocate.   As an adoptee herself she has a personal mission to show adoption in a positive light.  Even as an adoptee the process of adoption seemed daunting and she was full of fears.  Now that she has gone through the process and adopted two children, she is ready to help others through the process. Now as an adoptive parent Lorelee speaks about the unique needs the adoptive family has.  Lorelee spent five years working as a children's pastor and also worked with CEF Ontario.  As an adoptee, adoptive parent, and years of experience in children's ministry, she has a unique perspective. Lorelee is married to Alex and they now have four daughters age 12-15. You can learn more about her at 

204 - "Who, Me?! Equipping you to share the message" with Brandalyn Musial

It can be intimidating to consider sharing the call to care for vulnerable children with your church, especially if it is breaking new ground. But where God calls, he equips! There are a number of great resources out there to support you in sharing this critical message. Whether you're a pastor or you just have some passion, you're starting fresh or augmenting some existing vision and ministry initiatives, you can utilize the tools of Stand Sunday, Orphan Sunday and others to tailor your message to your church or small group. You'll leave ENCOURAGED that you can do it, INSPIRED that you should and EQUIPPED with practical tools to begin implementing effective strategies in whatever your home context may be. And you'll also discover that you are not alone!

"If God uses availability over ability, I'm exhibit A!" Called out of a successful career and lifelong passion for marine biology in 2014, Brandalyn responded with a dramatic change in life focus (from marine science) to the Biblical call to care for the fatherless. As a particularly unlikely candidate for this work (not a parent, not keen on the idea of personally fostering or adopting and trained in starfish and SCUBA diving) the learning curve has been steep. But the opportunity to share the Biblical call with her church family revealed a deeper understanding of this Biblical mandate and a desire to equip and inspire others to do the same. Brandalyn is passionate about the power of Stand Sunday and Orphan Sunday and is actively engaged with Canadian churches to bring equipping resources to congregations across the country

205 - Fitting the Pieces Together: Transitioning with Terra Bovingdon

This hour long session will look at transitioning from the beginning of the process to after the honeymoon ends. Hands on strategies will be covered for when coming together as a family is challenged by behaviours, past relationships and connections, grief and loss, anxiety, and fear of trusting.  

Terra Bovingdon has been a child and family therapist for over 20 years, specializing in families coming together through foster and adoption. She has been working with the Halton CAS and several other CAS offices in Ontario stabilizing children in foster care, providing court ordered relinquishment visits, reunifying children to birth families, facilitating openness in adoption, transitioning children into adoptive families, addressing grief and loss, and supporting all parties at times of adoption disruption. Terra has had the privilege of presenting nationally and internationally.  She is a registered Masters of Social Work with the Alberta College of Social Workers and the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. Terra is extremely excited to carry on her passion for learning and collaborating with professionals and families in Ontario. 

206 - “Caregiver Fatigue and Self-Care” with Brian & Colleen Derksen

Parenting is often complex and difficult! Raising children with unique needs and challenges can make it feel impossible. Join us for a conversation about the realities of parenting children with challenging needs, and how we can take good care of ourselves so that we can continue to provide care for our children.  

Brian & Colleen Derksen are from Calgary, Alberta, and are the proud parents of Kolbie, Logan  and Rylie. Soon after adopting, they realized that their default parenting strategies were not going to cut it, so they pursued Empowered to Connect training. They are grateful for the ways in which ETC has brought hope and healing to their family, and are passionate about sharing what they are learning with other families. They regularly run groups in ETC parenting support in Calgary at their church (First Alliance) and are now the Canadian trainers for Empowered to Connect.

Breakout Session 3 Options: Saturday afternoon  (1:30-2:30 pm) 

301 - “Grief and Loss in Foster Care & Adoption” with Terri Ann Gaynik

This session will look at how grief and loss impact each member of the adoption triad and foster care relationship. Focusing on the unique perspective of each member in these relationship, Terri Ann will share how grief and loss is real, and powerfully impacts the adoption and foster care experience. Relying on her own experience with much grief and loss in the adoption process, Terri Ann will share how the Lord has so graciously helped her cast her eyes with deep intimacy to the only one who really knows what she is going through, and provides her hope for a time free from all earthly suffering.

Terri Ann Gaynik is a Christian wife and mother of four. She and her husband have built their family through international, domestic, and embryo adoption. When she is not juggling tweenie and infant schedules, you can find her drinking strong coffee while studying the bible, writing, and hiking. She writes on grief, loss, and the unique challenges of adoption parenting.

302 - “Fostering, adopting and mentoring older children, teens and young adults who have aged out of care” with Lesli Bartlett

Many of the children in need of forever families in our Canadian foster care system are “older” children and teenagers. Experienced foster & adoptive parent, Lesli Bartlett will be sharing about older children, teen adoption and moral adoption. She will speak on both the joys and struggles in day to day life. She will also discuss how attachment and bonding is similar and different when adopting an older child or teen.

Lesli is a proud mother of 8 children; 5 by birth and 3 who grew in her heart. Lesli and her husband, Jeff, have been foster parents for over 15 years and she has spent more than 10yrs working in child and youth mental health. Her passion makes her a strong advocate for youth in and out of care. Lesli wears many hats in her day to day life. Lesli is the Ontario representative for home for every child. As well as a regional parent liaison for adopt4life. She is also the founder and executive director of Wraparound families, which seeks to find families and support within churches and communities for youth who are moving on to independent living or have aged out of foster care. Lesli's involvement in the First Nations community and her passion for helping families who have adopted First Nations children learn more about their child's heritage are of critical importance for her, including helping adoptive families connect with their First Nations community. Lesli is also a PRIDE co-facilitator and continuously attends training related to addictions, attachment, FASD, advanced facilitation and more and is certified in Tramua and Crisis recovery.  Lesli strongly encourages having a good support system, as she is very thankful for her family, friends church, and aboriginal communities who have been a constant source of support for her family.

303 - “It Drives Me Crazy” with Lyndsey Stevenato

This breakout session will define sensory integration and introduce the sensory systems.  A review of normal sensory processing development will be given. Sensory Dysfunction will be identified with tools and strategies for parents.

Lyndsey is the owner/operator at Lyndsey Stevenato Children’s Therapy Services” in Barrie Ontario.  She is an Occupational Therapist certified in Sensory Integration and the Sequential-Oral-Sensory approach to feeding. 
Lyndsey started her career in 1986 in Sudbury at the Children’s Treatment Centre and Integrated Services for Northern Children.  She then moved to London, Ontario and worked as a Senior Therapist at CPRI.  She landed in Barrie in 1991 as a manager for CCAC (Community Care Access Centre) and was the first paediatric OT at Barrie’s Royal Victoria Hospital in the preschool and neonatal program.  She started her own private clinic in 2001 in Barrie.​

304 - “Open vs. Closed Adoption” with William & Melanie Walker

In this session we will discuss the difference between open and closed adoption, the significance and challenges these bring to the child and the family as a whole. William and Melanie will share their unique story of their open adoption with their daughter's birth family. There will also be time to ask questions and have discussion.

William and Melanie Walker have been married for 13 years and have adopted 2 children from birth. They have a unique open adoption with their daughter's birth family, but a closed adoption with their son's birth family. William and Melanie homeschool their children and travel with their music partnering with Compassion Canada and releasing children from poverty.

305 - “Family Conflict Resolution & Mediation” with Taralea Scammel

How can Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution guide and support processes of Adoption and Fostering? Come join as we share information about these two resources and responses and discuss some “real” stories and how families were best served through such restorative processes.

Hi folks I am Taralea Scammell, Accredited Family Mediator and Alternative Dispute Resolution ADR Practitioner. I am a wife, mother, foster mother, sister, daughter and friend to some very special people. I am so blessed! I have been working within the areas of child protection and families in crisis for almost twenty five years. Currently, I am practicing Family Group Conferencing an ADR response for families involved with child protection as well as Family Mediation with families experiencing difficulties in their relationships. 

306 - Transracial Parenting & Understanding Your Child’s Culture with Heidi Payne

Welcoming a child into your family through Transracial Adoption requires thoughtful planning and considerations to ensure that they develop a positive identity in relation to their connection to their first culture and securely in your family. Some topics discussed will include: 

  • Maintaining connections to your child’s country of birth, honouring their heritage and melding the cultures represented in the whole family
  • The impact of early trauma
  • Dealing with racism
  • Encountering the unknowns

We invite you to join Heidi in an interactive session to discuss these unique considerations and practical strategies to utilize when parenting a child from a different racial and cultural background. She will share personal experiences from her family’s journey as an Interracial/Transracial Family. There will be opportunities for Q&A.

Heidi lives in London with her husband and is the adoptive mom of 2 children. Heidi’s family is a trans-racial, trans-cultural family grown through international adoption from South Africa. Heidi adopted her son in 2008 and daughter in 2014. She has over 20 years of educational and professional experience including childhood & family relations, developmental services work and early childhood education. She has always had a focus on promoting inclusion and diversity, fostering empathy, increasing resilience, and developing secure connections. Heidi is involved with the Families with Children Adopted from South Africa Parent Support Network and sits on the Networks Leadership Circle. She is committed to providing quality support and services to adoptive families through her role at Adopt4Life.

We are offering two pre-conference options at Together For Adoption & Fostering 2019 during the day on Friday, May 24th. 

Please visit each pre-conference page to learn more about each.

Together for Adoption Canada 2019 Pre-conference #1
How We Love - Milan and Kay Yerkovich

Together for Adoption Canada 2018 Pre-conference #2
Trauma-Informed Relationship-Based Parenting  - Brian & Colleen Derksen