The dates and times for these sessions are subject to change. We will update this page as those changes occur and will have a final schedule printed and ready at the conference. 

Click this button below to learn a bit more about each of the people leading our sessions. 

Breakout Session 1 - Friday night

Parenting Older Children Who Aren't Following the Script

led by John Moore

As parents and caregivers, we have hopes and dreams for our kids. We try our best to shape their values and behaviors in an effort to help them be successful. What happens when they are fast approaching adulthood and we see them veering “off script”? They’ve decided to pave their own way and reject many of the things you’ve tried to instill in them.
How do you continue to parent well while also letting go of control and allowing them to make their own mistakes? How does your parenting style with your older children (maybe even adult children) affect the younger kids you may still have in your home?


Reboot: Mindful Screen Use for Healthy Families

led by Nina Schroder

With the increasing prevalence and usage of smart devices in our culture, the introduction and use of these technologies in our children's lives can feel inevitable and overwhelming. Through discussion of emerging research as well as her experience on the front lines counseling Digital Age college students at VCU, Nina Schroder, MSW, LCSW, will provide parents with helpful insight into the potential cognitive, social, and mental health effects of high screen use, and share practical strategies for parents to confidently promote a healthy & mindful approach to screen use and well-being for the entire family.

Investing in Biological Families

  

led by Pete and Leila Gunning

Are you pulling your hair out trying to find a way to help your foster or adopted child's biological family? If your heart is open to fostering children or adopting, you may also find yourself desperately wanting to help their biological families. 

Foster or adoptive parents often have unique access into the life of a struggling family. This session will help you look at the big picture, to help you rise above the next crisis, and offer practical tips for fulfilling your role in their restoration.

Everyone Can do Something

led by Jason Johnson

When it comes to serving the orphaned and vulnerable, this can be the mantra of your church and the foundation of the foster care, adoption and orphan care ministry you establish – everyone can do something! 

Your church has the ability to make a significant difference in the lives of vulnerable children and families. The questions are not “can” you or “should” you, but “how” can you and “what” does that need to look like?  

Breakout Session 2 - Saturday Morning

The Importance of Open Adoption

led by Rebekah Hall

&

Robb and Nichole Barth

Open adoption can be a scary and difficult relationship to understand on all sides of the adoption triad. However, it is a very important aspect of adoption that needs to be discussed.  In fact, 95 percent of adoptions are now open in some way, according to The Donaldson Adoption Institute. This session will provide open and honest dialogue with participants, an adoption professional/adult adoptee and an adoptive family who has an open relationship with both birth parents as well as extended birth family members.

Not Your Normal Self-Care Class

led by Michele Schneidler

Don’t worry. Michele isn’t going to give you tips on how to lose weight, spend more time reading your bible, and sign up for solitude retreats. Join her for a real life conversation about taking care of yourself in the midst of broken dreams, strained relationships, and chaotic schedules with social workers, bio parents, teachers, and therapists. 

Transracial Adoption Panel Discussion

led by Kevin Tremper

When families are built through adoption, it isn't unusual to have a mixing of colors and cultures. How do we raise our children  in our culture and with a new heritage while not dismissing their biological  culture and heritage?

A panel of men and women who have adopted children with different race and cultural backgrounds will share their experiences and take your questions.

Getting UnStuck

led by Angie Grant

It's undeniable that the children we love and serve have unique histories and needs. As a result, we as parents must be willing to learn how to love and parent them well. This requires that we take on some new ideas and new ways of relating, communicating, and offering discipline. It means that we must be open to new ideas and learn how to use new parenting tools that will be effective in helping our children heal and grow. But truthfully, this can actually be the easy part. What is often far more challenging is being willing and able to un-learn some of our old ways of parenting. 

Whether it is parenting strategies that were successful with your biological children, ways that you yourself were parented, or parenting approaches that others in your church or circle of friends are using. This session will jumpstart you with new tools from someone who has been there and actually is still there!

Breakout Session 3 - Saturday Afternoon

Advocating for your Child in a School Setting

led by Erin Heath

How many times have we opened up our home and our heart with the best of intentions, but feel overwhelmed with how to help our child succeed in the school setting? A large majority of children in foster care are traveling home to home with an IEP and special accommodations at school. Or maybe your child hasn't been in one place long enough for the school to identify the needs yet.

Erin will help you understand your rights as a parent (including foster parents), what you can ask for, and how to ask for it.
She'll also be ready with strategies for working with your child at home.

Mission Minded Marriage

led by Randall and Kelley Nichols

Life as an adoptive or foster parent can pull you in a million different directions. When attachment, medical needs, and all the other stuff of life keeps coming at you, regular date nights are no longer realistic. You need practical ideas to protect your relationship and keep your marriage on mission. 

Do Rewards and Consequences Even Work for your Child?

led by John Murray

In this session, we explore the efficiency of the Rewards and Consequences approach in parenting.  Do consequences help children learn more effectively?  Do rewards reinforce positive choices and behaviors?  This session will ask each participant to evaluate their parenting skill level and to explore what will help a child’s brain develop properly. Brain function and brain development is the true focus and the science behind those things teaches us a new way to parent this new and challenging generation! 

Learn alternative parenting skills that reduce power struggles, reduce defiance, strengthen attachment, increase efficiency in learning and help parenting to become more fun and rewarding. 

Connecting Faith and Government to End the Foster Care and Adoption Crisis in Virginia

led by Janet Kelly

This session will focus on the importance of getting government agencies and churches to the same table to work in the best interest of the children who need them most. Janet will cover the reasons why this can be difficult at times and also offer practical ideas on how YOU can be part of the solution to the foster care and adoption crisis in Virginia. While fostering and adopting is vital to this mission, there are many other ways to engage the issue as well.