Christian Alliance for Orphans – Summit 8

Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit VIII

Christian Alliance for Orphans‘ annual conference, this year called Summit 8, is coming up in just a few weeks.

And oh, friends, I wish I was able to go. (It’s just that two trips to California in as many months might be just a touch too much for our family right now.)

I know. I’ve had conflicted feelings about the Christian orphan movement before, mainly because I believe I’ve witnessed the fallout after families sign up for adoption as a redemptive act, and then encounter a vastly different reality when they come face-to-face with their child. I still believe that when we move families to adopt using emotional appeals and sermons on moral imperatives, it can set up both family and child for difficulty and heartbreak later, when they’re unprepared and left without support after coming home.

But the more I interact with Christian Alliance for Orphans, the more impressed I am. They’re very proudly and solidly part of what Christianity Today recently labeled “the burgeoning Christian orphan care movement,” and they’ve seen crazy growth in their conference over the last eight years. (Year 1: Less than 40 people. This year: Anticipated 1,800-,2000.)

But they’re not just focusing on “the beginnings of things,” as I wrote in that post a few months ago.

“I… see [Summit] deepening and maturing in very important ways,” wrote Jedd Medefind, president of CAFO, in an email, “moving from what in early years was focused heavily on the adoption ‘process’ and also the beauty of adoption — to now including those topics, but also speaking much more about the challenges of nurturing kids from tough backgrounds, the local church supporting adoptive families and adoptees, and other themes that wade deep into the complexity and pain alongside the joy.”

When I started this blog, I wondered how the leaders in the Christian orphan movement would feel about it. If they ever noticed it, I assumed, actually, that they would view it as a distraction, a hindrance to the cause of finding families for the world’s orphans.

Instead, Mr. Medefind and other staff at CAFO have embraced me and my message of transparency and honesty about the pain and loss in every adoption. They have affirmed the importance of seeing both sides, and they seem unafraid and unthreatened by a debate about the complex issues surrounding adoption. They even hosted me as a guest blogger on their blog.

I’ve gotten the impression that they trust God to move in people’s hearts and lead them. I think they’re open to a variety of voices and topics because they know they’re not the ones in charge.

I deeply respect any Christian organization that can do that.

If you’re able, consider attending Summit VIII. It’s on May 3-4 at Saddleback Church in Southern California, and here are just a few of the speakers and musicians who will help lead the event: Rick and Kay Warren, Francis Chan, Dennis Rainey, Ryan Bomberger, Stephen Curtis Chapman and Geoff Moore.

The conference is for anyone at any stage, including adoptive families, those interested, orphan care ministries in churches, social welfare professionals and more.

Workshops cover a wide array of topics, such as attachment and trauma, HIV orphans, adoption theology, in-country strategies, adoption funding, leadership workshops, microfinance, multicultural family issues, and many, many more.

Jedd, if you can find a way to teleport me to Summit VIII, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll be praying for everyone attending this year, the speakers and leaders, and trusting God for the rest.

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4 comments on “Christian Alliance for Orphans – Summit 8

  1. Melissa says:

    I stopped by after reading the teaser at CAFO. I haven’t had a chance to read much yet, but I appreciate your honesty in adoption. As an adult adoptee, we waltzed into our adoption 3 years ago pretty starry eyed and were blindsided. I wouldn’t change it for the world because God has used our situation in hugely redemptive ways. Adoption is surey a refiner’s fire. However, we came out with a renewed passion to tell our story–the good, bad, and the ugly–to whomever would listen because knowing can really be half the battle. As we jump into a second adoption, this time for 2 Ethiopian teenagers, we are so thankful for the work of CAFO and its partners and praying that God would lead us gently through this fire.

    Many blessings to you as you seek God after saying Goodbye to Rwanda.


    • Thanks for stopping by, Melissa — I had a very similar experience… “starry eyed” is the perfect description. Sounds like we have much the same heart for telling the truth about it! Wow, blessings and prayers on your next adventure! Isn’t it amazing what happens when we open our hearts?

  2. Tereasa says:

    I have had similar feelings in regards to the Christian orphan movement. I have felt that celebrity adoptions have only made it worse. It is good to see, however, a workshop with a list of truly relevant topics. I believe the people who are honest about their difficulties, surrendered to God and encouraging to others are a redeeming quality of the movement. Thanks for blogging! (BTW, I am adding you to my list of blogs recommended for adoptive families.)

    • Interesting thought about celebrity adoptions… I don’t want adoption to be fashionable, or viewed lightly, but I I also appreciate the visibility it’s gotten, in part because of celebrities. But you’re so right, it’s a very delicate dichotomy.

      Thanks so much for adding me to your blog list!