Who Is This Conference For?

  • People who want to support the adoptive/foster care community
  • People who are exploring foster care and adoption
  • Post-placement families who want to learn more and connect with other families
  • Everyone who is interested in learning more about the social crises in our city caused by the loss of family: homelessness, trafficking, incarceration, and crisis pregnancies.

Restoring Homes. Restoring Families.

  • Date: February 22, 2020
  • Time: 9 AM – 3:30 PM
  • Location: Grace Covenant Church, 9805 Jollyville Road
  • Cost: $30/person
  • Childcare available but limited

Keynote Speaker

Luke grew up in Boise, Idaho and married his first sweetheart, Miranda. Together they have two biological children and have adopted four more. Their joy in experiencing transformation is not limited merely to home renovations, but he and Miranda find their true life’s calling in joy of their growing family through adoption. It was Luke’s heart for adoption that led him to realize his purpose as a designer and real estate investor. The high costs associated with adoption required a much greater outlay than a musician in ministry could ever fathom paying. Luke purchased his first real estate investment at auction, a run down house that needed a full overhaul. He poured a ton of love into it and sought to make it a home that he and his family would be proud to live in. That renovated home not only helped provide the necessary funding for that first adoption, it simultaneously became the canvas upon which Luke began the expression of all things creative that had for years developed within him. Luke Caldwell co-hosts in the new HGTV hit show Boise Boys, which follows good friends and home renovation duo Luke Caldwell and Clint Robertson as they purchase and revitalize outdated homes.
For more see lukecaldwell.com
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Breakout Session Topics

I SAID YES: INTRODUCTION TO FOSTER CARE

I Said Yes presentation is a great first step in learning more about the foster care system. You’ll hear about the 5 Needs of Foster Care and how there is a role for everyone. If you are exploring how you can get involved, attend this session to get an overview and next steps. If you are a ministry leader, attend this session to preview the presentation that FHA can bring to your church to encourage your congregations to get involved!

Speaker: Josh and Kelly Owens

MINISTERING TO YOUR CHILDREN WHERE THEY ARE

We need trauma-informed care because it is the understanding of what happens to the body, brain, beliefs, biology and behavior when a child or an adult experiences trauma.  All children who are adopted or in foster care have experienced trauma.  In this session learn what trauma is and why it is important to respond to children with trauma in a different way.

Speaker: Marci Chandler, Lisa Scott

WHEN SELFLESSNESS IS A DETRIMENT

Foster care and adoption attracts those who are selfless and calls those who sacrifice for vulnerable children and families, but when is that sacrifice and selflessness detrimental for us and those we care for? Engage in honest conversation on the idols of busyness and multitasking, the importance of Sabbath, perseverance, and saying “No”, and the misguided pursuit of balance.

Speaker: Bruce Kendrick

RACIAL EQUITY AND CULTURAL COMPETENCY AFFECTS OUR CHILDREN

Data from Child Protective Services shows that children of color are over-represented in the child welfare system at a rate that is disproportionate to their population in the community. With this information in mind, it is critical that everyone, from social workers, lawyers, advocates, and caregivers, understand and take into consideration cultural competency and how racial inequities affect the children in foster care. Generational and racial trauma will be discussed and candid, honest discussions on how everyone involved in the child welfare system can understand bias and ways to overcome cultural differences will be explored.

Speaker: Honorable Aurora Martinez Jones

RETHINKING CHILDREN’S MINISTRY: HELPING KIDS FEEL SAFE

Churches often focus on the programs, curriculum, lights, and music that make a Children’s Ministry great, but often forget the impact of making children feel safe, secure and loved. Feeling safe can go a long way towards helping them experience and accept God’s love. We will discuss what trauma is, what its impacts are, and how it informs behavior along with practical strategies to serve children in their ministries, as well as a plan of action to empower other leaders and volunteers.

Speakers: Ryan and Kayla North

KEEPING FAMILIES TOGETHER

When a child is removed, the state’s goal is to reunify parents with their children. Often times this means the parents must go through the court system to receive steps they must take before their children are returned. This can be an overwhelming process for families. Learn about an innovative new collaborative between Williamson County Courts, Cenikor Addiction Recovery, STARRY Counseling and Fostering Hope Austin to create a “bridge” model of services to more effectively bring hope and healing to families reunifying and their children.

Panelists: Jessica Kilpatrick, Honorable Ryan Larson, Raul Garcia, Anna Valdez   Facilitator: Amanda Keeter

UNITING CHURCHES

The poor and vulnerable will always be among us.  We cannot stop problems and tragedies in families, but can the churches have a plan for when they do?  Can the churches be prepared to care for all the foster children, adoptive children and support family preservation?  We absolutely can. There are enough churches and there are enough resources and services. FHA can equip churches and there is a plan to change the trajectory of hundreds of children in care.

Speaker: Julie Kouri

WHAT ABOUT ADOPTIVE PARENTS?

Did you feel a lot of attention and support while you were going through the adoption process and then when the adoption was finalized, all support disappeared?  Perhaps you too, thought the hard part was over once the adoption was finalized, only to realize that adoption issues still come up after years of your son or daughter are home.  Join Julie Kouri, adoptive parent for 14 years of 3 kids as she provides insight on all the seasons of hope and challenges with adoption.

Speaker: Julie Kouri

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CHILD AND PARENTS ENTERS THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM

Navigating the legal child welfare system can be difficult. In this session, Judge Martinez Jones will shed light on the process families go through in a CPS case from the investigation stages to various permanency outcomes. Judge Martinez Jones will discuss legal timelines, required court hearings, and the caregiver’s role.

Speaker: Honorable Aurora Martinez Jones

SPECIAL NEEDS ADOPTIONS

There are many children with special needs available for adoption. This can be overwhelming, but there are resources to support a family. Learn questions to consider before adopting special needs and how to advocate for resources.

Speaker: Amy Roberts

BUILDING MY VILLAGE FROM ONE: Practical Tips For Creating A Meaningful, Sustainable Community Around the Single Parent

Experienced parent, Hallie Graves will lead a discussion based on real-life experiences of the ups and downs of being a single foster parent and the hope that you can welcome a child into a single parent household.

Speaker: Hallie Graves

INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION 101

Is your heart pulled internationally for the orphans overseas? The process is long and not as prevalent as it once was, but there is still much to learn before making a decision. Learn the basic process and steps to take to adopt internationally.

Speakers: Whitney and Nick Runyon

DOMESTIC INFANT ADOPTION 101

Is domestic infant adoption the option for you? Learn the basic process of infant adoption and questions to ask. Understand open adoption and how to begin the steps to adopting an infant through a private agency.

Speaker: Sarah Boyd

ADOPTING FROM FOSTER CARE 101

There are many children and teens available for adoption right now. Learn about these kids and how to begin a process to adopt through foster care.

Speaker:  Heart Gallery Director

About Our Breakout Speakers

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Honorable Aurora Martinez Jones

Judge Martinez Jones is part of the new court in Travis County, the 459th.  As a County Associate Judge, she has led local reform efforts to provide a more compassionate, trauma-informed and efficient process towards child welfare cases. She also worked as a sole practitioner, representing families that needed a voice, with hands-on experience in the diverse legal issues that have come before the court.

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Bruce Kendrick

Bruce Kendrick is the Director of Life Initiatives at Watermark Church in Dallas.  He and his wife, Denise fostered 30 children, adopted 5 kids, and co-founded Embrace Texas, an organization that supports the recruitment and retention of foster and adoptive parents. 

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Anna Valdez

A native Texan, Anna Valdez lived in Monterrey, Mexico for the past 5 years as a Program Coordinator for the international organization, Back2Back Ministries. She is a TBRI practitioner and mentor. Along with being a Program Coordinator, Anna worked as a caregiver in an orphanage in Monterrey. There she was the primary caregiver for 17 teenage girls in a span of 5 years with whom she successfully applied the TBRI principles. Under the direction of nationally known social worker and author, Jayne Schooler, she trained families, other caregivers and professional staff in the Trauma Competent Caregiver curriculum. Anna managed 9 other trainers and was on the ground floor of developing and translating the curriculum. Her experience includes developing group specific training for volunteers, support groups for foster parents and caregivers, and helping institutions move through the continuum of trauma informed care. Anna is fluent in Spanish and taught high school English before moving to Mexico.

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Jessica Kilpatrick

Jessica Kilpatrick is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works as the Chief Program Officer at STARRY in Round Rock, Texas. Jessica attended the University of Texas in Austin and received her Bachelor of Science in Applied Learning and Development and Texas State University to earn her Masters Degree in Professional Counseling. She has over 20 years of experience in working with children in foster home, school, community center, and counseling settings. Jessica worked as a counselor at STARRY for 4 years before becoming their Program Support Specialist and later, Director of Training and Program Development for both the Counseling and Foster Care Program. She worked for over 2 years to implement trauma-informed care throughout STARRY services and the greater community. Jessica is now the Chief Program Officer at STARRY working to develop, sustain, assess, and improve programs. Jessica is a Trust-Based Relational Intervention Educator®, Practitioner®, and Mentor® and has spent the last 5 years studying under the mentorship of TCU’s Institute of Child Development. She has trained over a 1,000 teachers, parents, and professionals in Trust-Based Principles. Jessica is passionate about changing the world for children.

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Marci Chandler

Marci is a licensed Physical Therapist and received her MSPT from Texas State University in 2008. After graduation she worked with people who had experienced traumatic brain injuries in both the acute and rehabilitation settings. She and her husband Mark have a 10 year old biological son and a 6 year old adopted daughter. Since adopting her daughter, Marci has volunteered with the Embrace Ministry of Vertical Chapel and has received certification to train other caregivers to become Trauma Competent.

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Hailie Graves

Hallie Graves is a 30-something from the great Austin, Texas. Not a fan of the linear life, Hallie’s a speaker and writer, a lawyer with a boutique law firm, the Outreach Director for Polished Austin (@polishedaustin), and a #singlefostermom with infant placements, and is overly interested in just about everything. Hallie is passionate about encouraging people to live fully in light of the grace and freedom of Jesus and to use every ounce of all they’ve been given in this life. She loves the Austin library, Broadway shows, queso, yoga, words, and her people. Hallie’s involved in the Austin Stone Community Church, Foster Village, and The Archibald Project, and has degrees in voice, physics, and law.

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Josh and Kelly Owen

Josh and Kelly Owen live in San Marcos, TX with their five kids—two biological children, one adopted child, and two foster children. As an adoptee himself, Josh has always had a heart for the orphan and as a twin, Kelly has always had a heart for sibling sets. Before they ever got married, God had written these things on their hearts and they knew one day they’d be serving siblings in foster care. Josh serves as the Teaching Pastor of Soma San Marcos and Kelly oversees the Children’s Ministry. They are passionate about equipping the local church to love and serve the orphan well! Fostering Hope Austin has been a vital resource to their family over the past few years, as they have trained up several babysitters to come alongside them on this journey. The Owen family loves the outdoors! In the summer, you can usually find them having fun at the river and in the winter, they take advantage of local hiking trails.

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Sarah Boyd

Sarah Boyd has always had a heart for children. She has been in education over 15 years . She has taught in the classroom, both public and private, and later worked as a dyslexia therapist. She now works as a part time teacher trainer. She graduated from the University of Texas and later received her Masters of Education in Reading and Writing from SMU. Sarah and her college sweetheart, Lambert, have been married for 16 years. Together they came to this conference many years ago with a desire to see where God was leading them after some years of unexpected challenges to starting their family. They have two beautiful children, Lucy (6) and Luke (2). Both of their children were infant domestic adoptions. Sarah is passionate about sharing their story of adoption and encouraging others that may be on a similar journey.

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Judge Ryan D. Larson

Ryan D. Larson was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott as judge of the 395th District Court, a court of general jurisdiction, in 2016. Prior to his appointment, Judge Larson was the Director for Administrative Hearings at the Texas Railroad Commission. He previously served under then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott as an assistant attorney general.
Outside the courtroom, Judge Larson is an appointee to the legislatively created Prevention Advisory Task Force, a statewide task force charged with making recommendations to the Texas Legislature on strategies for the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Judge Larson is a member of the Williamson County Inns of Court, a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, and a deacon at his church. He is married to a brilliant and beautiful trademark attorney, and together they have two children, ages 5 and 9.

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Raul Garcia

As an educator, mentor and community leader, Raul Garcia has inspired and touched the lives of students, clients, and colleagues for over 20 years. A licensed chemical dependency counselor with a masters in social work, Raul has spent the last three years with Cenikor as a Facility Director and Lead Clinical Manager for the Foundation. He has helped lead Cenikor Austin since its inception and help sustain its continued growth. Prior to Cenikor, he spent eleven years with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, managing outpatient services for incarcerated men and women. During his time, as a volunteer, he was a key contributor in the development and growth of the Recovery Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC) organization, serving as Chair for four years. A common thread in Raul’s professional and volunteer positions is his deep belief in community collaboration and holistic long-term care for people seeking recovery. Raul has consistently and compassionately advocated to build and improve recovery services for those suffering with addiction, their families and the community at large.

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Lisa Scott

Lisa earned her JD from St. Mary’s University, where she worked at the Human Rights Clinic and under a HUD grant to provide legal services to San Antonio’s vulnerable populations. After graduation, Lisa worked as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Supervisor where she was the Guardian Ad Litem for children involved with Child Protective Services (CPS). She and her family have adopted two children through the CPS system in Travis County, and in 2018, Lisa co-founded Embrace Ministry of Vertical Chapel, which provides support and care for parents of foster and adopted children.

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Julie Kouri

Julie has been leading and supporting foster and adoption ministries across Central Texas for more than a decade. Julie is an approved Educator in Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) and an Empowered to Connect Trainer. Her experience includes working directly with Dr. Karyn Purvis and Texas Christian University to develop trauma-informed church ministries in Central Texas. As an adoptive parent to her own three children, Julie has mentored and trained hundreds of foster and adoptive families.