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

1A - Adoption Basics by Tandela Swann

Are you, or someone you know, considering adding to your family through adoption? Do you find the process and steps confusing and daunting? This session will help to answer some of your questions around adoption, where and how to get started, and what to expect in the process. You will learn about the different options with respect to adoption, and the joys and challenges that present along the way in diverse adoption journeys.

1B - Fostering Basics by Sue O’Keefe

Join local Calgary foster family recruiter Sue O’Keeffe for an introduction to fostering. She will be well prepared to answer any questions you may have about what fostering involves, how to apply, what is required, how the process works and what supports are available to families who choose to foster. 

1C - The Devastating Duo of Fear & Shame by Brian and Colleen Derksen

Fear and shame drive a lot of the behaviour we see in our children (and in ourselves) but it's often difficult to see past the behaviour to discern what's really going on. In this breakout, we'll discuss what it looks like when fear and shame drive behaviours, and we'll share a few strategies to help us become more effective at both recognizing and combating these two enemies of connection. 

1D - Launching Your Church Ministry by Kristjen and Tamara Hull

Would you love to see a ministry in your church to care for the orphan and support adoptive and foster families? Come learn practical steps to launch a ministry and grow this ministry to a thriving and effective outreach to families in your community and church. From approaching your church board, to exploring the creative possibilities for your church ministry…we will cover it all  in this informative session. We'll share resource ideas and help you get started.

1E - Dads panel:  How to Be a Trust-Based Daddy by Brian Hargreaves, Terence Jellema, Alan Jones, and Jason Kovacs

Come and hear a panel of adoptive dads share the insights they have learned through parenting. What is unique and special about being a dad?  How have they learned to support their wives in their parenting journeys? How has knowing themselves well helped when children inevitably push their buttons?  Come to hear their stories and ask them questions to help you be better prepared to be a trust-based daddy. 


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

2A - What I Wish I Had Known About Adoption Before I adopted—Panel discussion

Hear from experienced adoptive parents about their experiences—good and bad—and what they learned from each. Specifically, we will ask them what insights they feel would have helped them if they had known sooner in their process. There will be an opportunity for you to ask questions, so come expecting to learn from those who have walked this road ahead of you.

2B - Helping your church volunteers be trauma informed by Pastor Randy Burtis

In this session, we will define what trauma is and explore its effect on children and discover what are the common behaviours we see in children who have been impacted by trauma. Armed with that awareness we will then dig into ways to be trauma-informed and how to support your volunteers as they partner with the parents in providing care for these children while they are participating in our church programs.

2C - Understanding Attachment: theirs and yours by Julie Lidstone

There are many factors that influence a child’s development – many over which parents/caregivers have little control – but attachment security is one important factor parents/caregivers can influence. A secure attachment is important for our children as it provides a foundation for resiliency, well-being, and satisfying relationships. Research tells us that the best predictor of a child obtaining secure attachment is that his/her parents/caregivers have made sense of their own childhood. In this session, we will look at how to determine our own attachment style and how to make sense of our childhood experiences in order to guide our children toward secure attachment.

2D - Better Together: Building Connections in Canada for Family Restoration, Foster Care & Adoption 

​        by Wendi Park


It's great when a person is passionate about caring for vulnerable kids, but it can also feel extremely isolating and overwhelming. Find your piece in the child welfare puzzle and get connected. This workshop will look at ways one can effectively build meaningful supports within the community and across Canada. We will address the challenges and the benefits of collaboration with government, social services, organizations and the community at large, as well as discuss healthy opportunities for your church to be relevant to your community child welfare needs. 

2E - Self- Care for Mommas by Debra Delulio Jones

Based on her own personal experience, Debra will share with moms how to become empowered to give themselves their much-needed yeses to alleviate stress. She will discuss symptoms of Compassion Fatigue that can result from a difficult parenting journey. She will also address overcoming unhealthy thinking that prevents us from taking good care of ourselves (we are the temple of God in Christ). Come and learn, get permission to take good care of you so that you can take good care of your family. 


2F - Screening of the Documentary - "Lost Kites"


In April of 2013, the LOST KITES team came together in Kona, Hawaii. They had recently completed two documentary projects and overseas volunteer service in Argentina, Panama, Rwanda, Uganda, India and Nepal with media advocacy non-profit, A Voice for the Voiceless. They had all witnessed the plight of children separated from their family, and wanted to do something about it. “I want to see what is the best way to help children without families – what is that?” Asked director, Samuel Rich. And so they set out on a 22 nation journey for two years, with a lean budget from crowdfunding and donations from family and friends. Statistics appeared daunting at the start, 8-10 million children living in orphanages, and 100 million on the streets, but the more the team traveled, the more hope for family began to emerge. 70+ interviews with social workers, advocates, doctors, and authors revealed strategies that the team is now sharing with the world in their film.


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

3A   Preparing Extended Family by Brian & Angela Hargreaves group

Join Brian and Angela Hargreaves for a look at helping your family and friends understand what it is to bring home your fostered or adopted child. We will explore different avenues of conversation for informing them that you and your new child need some time to cocoon or bond and how that looks. All foster and adopted children have experienced some sort of trauma even if they are newborn when you take them home. In this session, we would like to discuss the different ways you can help family ad friends understand how important it is that you bond with your new child. Experts recommend that you have one week of cocooning for every month that your child has not been with you—for family and friends that have never experienced fostering/adoption, that can be a difficult thing to understand. We will hep you understand cocooning and preparing your family and friends to support you in this.

3B - Safe Families by Sandee Harder

“Safe Families Canada is a movement of compassion involving collaboration between area churches, volunteers and Christian organizations in order to support at-risk children and parents in need. Safe Families is an opportunity for volunteers to have a powerful impact in the lives of others through practicing biblical hospitality and extending the love of Christ to people in need — all from their own home! Parents experiencing a temporary crisis can arrange for their children (newborn through 18 years old) to stay with Safe Families volunteers while they address the issues that led to the instability in their lives.”  Come and hear from Sandee Harder, who is leading a program to start Safe Families in Winnipeg.

3C - Transracial Parenting by Jason Kovacs 

Transracial adoption brings with it many important questions and often unforeseen challenges. How should we think about the issue of race? How might this influence (or not influence) how I raise my children and interact with other people as a transracial family? In this workshop we’ll answer these questions and more through the lens of the gospel story of our adoption by God through Jesus.

3D - Fostering & Adoption Culture Shaping by Joyce Rees

This breakout session is particularly geared for ministry leaders seeking to shape community participation in foster care and adoption. We’ll talk spiritual formation to enable healthy heart response within the community, as well as pragmatics for best practices within your congregation. Bring your questions, experience, and ideas!

3E - Voices of Adoptees and Foster Kids - Panel Discussion

It is vitally important to remember that as foster and adoptive parents, we do not live in the “skin” of our children. Their perspectives and experiences are different and we need to get used to hearing their understanding of their journeys. We will have the privilege of interviewing a panel of adoptees to hear how their stories can help us parent our children most effectively, by learning from what was helpful and not helpful to them.  



We are offering two pre-conference options at Together For Adoption 2017 during the day on Friday, May 12th. Please visit each pre-conference page to learn more about each.

Pre-conference Option #1

Introduction to Empowered to Connect Parenting with Brian and Colleen Derksen

Pre-conference Option #2
TBRI Advanced - Practicing the Skills with Debra and Alan Jones

Together for Adoption Canada 2017 Breakouts