Together for Adoption Canada 2018 Breakouts

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

101 - Adoption 101 - Home for Every Child Adoption Society

This workshop will provide an introduction to adoption and the adoption process. Find out the different types of adoption, costs, the home study process, children available and more! This is geared towards prospective adoptive parents.

102 - Fundraising for Adoption - 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. 


103 - Starting a Vulnerable Children Ministry in Your Church - Jason Johnson

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.  

Jason and his wife, Emily, became foster parents in 2012. They live in Texas with their four daughters and enjoy whatever it is they are doing, as long as it’s together. Jason is a writer and speaker who encourages families and equips churches in their foster care and adoption journeys. As the Director of Church Ministry Initiatives with The Christian Alliance for Orphans he provides consulting for church and organizational leadership teams on strategic planning and effective engagement practices in the foster care, adoption, orphan care, and justice spheres. Jason is the author of ReFraming Foster Care, ALL IN Orphan Care and blogs regularly at www.jasonjohnsonblog.com. 

104 - When It All Goes Sideways - Phil & Jen Wagler

The dreams that led you to adopt are bound to be challenged by the realities of loving and parenting children with wounds.  What happens when it all goes sideways and your marriage and everything you hoped for is shaken.  This is Phil and Jen’s hopeful story.

Phil and Jen Wagler have been married for 24 years. They have 6 children, 4 adopted (2 domestically and 2 internationally). They have been a family in ministry with local churches across the country and in the high call to adopt children, including those with brain-based disabilities. Let’s just say they have never been bored!

105 - Post-Adoption Depression: One Mom’s Story - Julie Olson

Paul and Julie Olson added two beautiful children from Liberia to their family in 2007, only 6 weeks after their 5th child was born. The weeks that followed spiraled out of control for Julie and she found herself in Post-Partum and Post-Placement Depression, and didn’t know it!  Undiagnosed for 3 years, Julie suffered unnecessarily and will share her story with you as well as tell of what she wished she knew, what she wished others knew to tell her, and what she would have done differently had she the chance to do it all over again!

Julie and her husband Paul live in Maple Ridge, BC where she is a stay at home mom and Paul is the Executive Lead Pastor at Burnett Fellowship, where he has been serving for 21 years. They have 5 children; 3 biological and 2 adopted.   


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

201 - Foster Care 101 - MCFD Donna, BSW

This workshop will provide introductory information on becoming a foster parent in BC. Find out the requirements, application process, the home study, education process, about the children and more.

Donna Schachtel is a resource recruitment social worker for MCFD in the South Fraser Region of the Vancouver Lower Mainland.  She has over 21 years of social work experience in the fields of adoption, both local and inter-country, as well as foster care.  For five years Donna worked in the United Kingdom recruiting, training and child finding for adoptive families.  She also worked for a private adoption agency in BC for over eight years.  Donna has also worked alongside Aboriginal communities throughout BC during her time working for Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society (VACFSS) and Knucwentwecw Society.

202 - Voices of Foster Children and Adoptees - Panel with Wendy Kittlitz

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.  

Wendy is the VP of Counselling and Care Ministries at Focus on the Family Canada. She is also a Registered Social Worker in BC and has been an adoption professional for over 20 years. She has trained under Dr. Karyn Purvis in TBRI professional training. She is mom to one biological daughter and one adopted daughter and has been married to Larry for nearly 22 years.


203 - The Church as an Alternative to Foster Care: How Churches Can Help Change Lives & Systems Across Canada - Sandee Harder

Come learn about a national initiative called Safe Families Canada from Sandee Harder, Regional Coordinator in Winnipeg, MB.  Safe Families is an opportunity for volunteers to have a powerful impact in the lives of others through practicing Biblical hospitality ("love of the stranger") 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 to 18 years old) to stay with a Safe Family Host Home while they address the issues that led to the instability in their lives.

204 - Navigating and Advocating in the School System - Cherry Sczebel

This workshop will discuss what it looks like to advocate both for your adopted and foster children in the school system. It will include information about the many resources out there that aren't always made aware of by the professionals in the process, and how to access them.

205 - Post-Placement Depression is Very Real: Counsellor’s Perspective - Karen Peters, MA, RCC

While our recognition and understanding of Post Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS) is still in its early stages, it has become clear that it exists and can significantly impact the lives of families in a similar way to Postpartum Depression. Together we will explore what it looks like in everyday life, and discover the hope possible through personal understanding, seeking support, and walking through the healing process.

Karen works with children, youth and adults at Thrive Life Counselling & Wellness in Fort Langley; specializing in parenting, family dynamics, adoption preparation and support, couples communication, grief and loss, anxiety, depression, and life adjustment challenges. She is also the Practice Analyst for MCFD’s Child & Youth Mental Health Services in BC. Karen and her husband have built their family through adoption and live in Surrey, BC. They have personal experience in open adoptions with both birth families, with interracial family challenges, and with raising young ones who are impacted by in-utero trauma, learning difficulties, sensory integration challenges and mental health needs.



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

301 - Finding Your Fit in Foster Care - Jason Weber

The idea is two-fold – (1) help attendees figure out how their personality and experiences have uniquely equipped them for various roles in foster care beyond foster parenting and adoption and (2) challenge attendees to take this breakout home and conduct it themselves for their church and/or community.

Jason Weber and his wife, Trisha, have been caring for children from U.S. foster care since 2001 and have had the privilege of adopting their five children from foster care.  Jason has helped to produce and write several books, bible studies, and other tools all created to serve churches as they care for hurting kids including the recent children’s book, Farmer Herman and the Flooding Barn (BroadStreet Publishing).  Jason writes a regular column for Fostering Families Today magazine and is the host of the Foster Movement Podcast, which highlights the stories of former foster youth and national foster care advocates.  Jason serves as the National Director of Foster Care Initiatives for the Christian Alliance for Orphans and currently lives in Plano, Texas. Website: cafo.org/FosterMovement.

302 - Bringing Dignity to Birth Parents - Colin & Tina Ury

We have an opportunity to minister in love to birthparents and extended family members in unimaginable ways with the goal to bring healing, build long term relationships with an eternal focus.


Colin and Tina have been married for 24 years, have 4 children and live in the Seattle area. They adopted their two girls from the Foster Care system when they were infants making them third generation of adoptees in the Ury family. The Ury's are passionate about the ministry of adoption and enjoy sharing their experiences and encouraging families to consider the bigger picture of adoption. 

303 - 
Better Together: Navigating Collaboration & Contextualization in Canada - 
Forever Families, Wendi Park

This workshop will examine the Canadian child welfare landscape and the essential role of local churches across Canada. We will address the challenges and the benefits of collaboration with government, social services, organizations and the community at large who may not be operating out of the same biblical paradigm and discuss healthy opportunities for your church to be relevant and thriving as a caring gospel centred community. 


Wendi is Executive Director and co-founder of Forever Families of Canada, a newer charitable Christian network that is passionate about connecting, equipping and mobilizing the Canadian Church to effectively care for vulnerable children and their families. Wendi devotes much of her time being a student & networker of the Canadian child welfare scene and an advocate for effective and biblically-based Canadian Church involvement alongside government, social services and community. She is a wife and mother to homemade, adopted and other kids who call her mom.​

304 - Disability Tax Credit - Martin Hamer, RN

This workshop will provide an introduction to the disability tax credit and the requirements for getting approved. Attendee’s will be walked through the application form and process and gain valuable information on how to apply for their own children who may qualify for assistance.

Martin Hamer is a registered nurse with over 42 years of experience in all areas of health care. He has spent the last 10 years working with a Chartered Accountant helping people determine if they are eligible for the disability tax credit. He also does an assessment, which in written form, goes to the family physician to assist him/her in completing the application form and can be included in the application. This is done on a fee-for-service basis. 


305 - Parenting an Anxious Child: Why It's Different with Adoptees!

Research shows that adoptees are more vulnerable than the general population to anxiety and depression and yet often don’t receive the help they need. Parenting a child with anxiety can be a confusing and stressful experience. Often typical interventions don’t seem to work for adoptees and can even make things worse.
In this workshop, parents will have an opportunity to reflect on the function of their child’s anxiety and learn more effective ways of responding. Adoptee-sensitive therapeutic interventions for anxiety will be shared, and parents will gain a better understanding of when, and how, to provide the right kind of support for their child.


Consultant, Educator and Therapist, Meagan holds Masters Degree in Counselling Psychology. She has specific training in Observed Experiential Integration (OEI), a trauma therapy effective in treating people of all ages, languages and cultures. Meagan is dedicated to the area of anxiety and trauma with a focus on parent-child relationships. She is effectively able to work with parents to find a greater understanding of their child’s experience, to make sense of difficult behaviours and implement strategies that reduce anxiety. Meagan’s experiences with overseas orphanage work were formative in developing her passion for working with children who have experienced caregiver disruptions and other relational traumas. Meagan’s parenting plate is full – she has been blessed with 4 amazing children!



We are offering two pre-conference options at Together For Adoption 2018 during the day on Friday, May 25th. Please visit each pre-conference page to learn more about each.

Pre-conference Option #1

Symposium on Foster Care and the Church - Transforming Canadian Foster Care through Church and Government Partnership - Amanda Preston

Pre-conference Option #2
Marriage Workshop - Colin & Tina Ury