The 11th annual AFAH Conference will be at Hill Country Bible Church on February 25, 2017. There will be sessions for people who have children placed with them or who are exploring the fostering and adoption options. There will be a special breakout track for professionals. Whether you have a child in your home, you are thinking about fostering/adopting or if you want to learn about supporting roles, there are sessions for you.
Update: childcare registration is now closed.
Jason Johnson is a writer and speaker who encourages families and equips churches in their foster care and adoption journeys so they can find the hope and support they need along the way. I’m hopeful this is a place you can find encouragement and inspiration no matter where you are on your own journey – whether just starting to consider it or already in the thick of it. I am the author of ALL IN Orphan Care and The Beauty and Brokenness of Foster Care and blog regularly here at Jason Johnson | Blog. I have a passion to encourage and inspire families no matter where they are in their foster care and adoption journey and long to see the gospel catalyze a movement of orphan care within the Church across the country around the world.
Supporting Roles Track
SERVING ADOPTIVE AND FOSTER FAMILIES
Kenny and Lauren Humphries have been foster parents for nine years. They have had over thirty kids placed in their home ranging from newborn to seventeen. They have fostered children with many different needs including severe aggression, cerebral palsy, autism, cancer, transplant, dialysis, and teen motherhood. Currently they have six children ranging from 12 months to 10 years old. They've adopted 4 kids from care, and currently foster two others. As a couple, they enjoy helping other families overcome the struggles associated with orphan care and fantasizing about long walks on the beach.
Fostering and adopting is challenging and families need support from others. However, their stories and situations can be intimidating and it is difficult to know what they need and how to best support them. Lauren and Kenny Humphries de-mystify foster parents as superheroes and demonstrate how foster parents greatly need others to help them. They will share practical ways to serve families and insight into why sometimes foster families can appear difficult to help.
DEVELOPING A TRAUMA-INFORMED CHURCH MINISTRY
Julie Kouri is the founder and Executive Director of Fostering Hope Austin. She and her husband have 3 children through adoption. 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), the trauma-informed model created by Drs. Karyn Purvis and David Cross of TCU, authors of The Connect Child. Julie is also an Empowered to Connect Trainer, and her experiences include working directly for Dr. Purvis and her TCU team to develop trauma-informed church ministries in Central Texas. Julie has mentored and trained hundreds of foster and adoptive families.
The foster and adoption communities desperately need churches to understand children from hard places and the families who care for them. Learn more about building a sustainable ministry and the vision for 300 new foster families in the Austin-area.
SUPPORTING A FAMILY IN CRISIS
Amy L. Curtis, LSW, LPC-S, is an adoptee and is currently serving as Director of Post Adoption and Counseling with Buckner Adoption and Maternity Services in Dallas, Texas. She has worked in the field of adoption and foster care for over 30 years as a Licensed Social Worker and a Licensed Professional Counselor. Amy is also working on a Ph.D. in Family Therapy, with a focus on attachment and trauma healing of those most vulnerable around the world. Amy believes adoptees and foster youth are the experts on child placement, yet sees their voice lacking in global conversations, research and policy. Amy has two children who have become quite amazing young adults.
As a leader or friend you may be called upon by a family going through a crisis with their foster or adoptive child. How do you support a family that is experiencing overwhelming struggles? What do you do when a family calls to tell you they are done? In this session you will learn how to respond to and support a family in crisis, in addition to learning about red flags before families accept a placement that may make them more susceptible to problems. Our focus will be on keeping families intact, adding support and relief for successful whole family outcomes.
MENTORING DONE WELL
Amy Ponder is Fostering Hope Austin’s Director of Engagement. She is an Arkansas native and is TBRI trained. Before moving to Austin, Amy helped start The CALL of Baxter Co. and served as its inaugural County Coordinator. She also previously co-founded the Peek-a-Bootique shop for mothers and children in collaboration with the Baxter Regional Medical Center hospital auxiliary. She and her husband have 4 biological children, and she has a passion for teens aging out of foster care. Erin Argue currently serves as the YES Mentor Coordinator for Partnerships for Children helping connect aging out youth with community mentors. Before this, Erin worked at The Settlement Home for Children, where she helped young women as they transitioned from the Foster Care System into adulthood. With years of experience working with youth from hard places, Erin is able to offer insight and guidance in helping with these individuals. She has training in Emergency Behavior Interventions (EBI) and she is a Trust-Based Relational Interventions (TBRI) Educator. Erin is a graduate of Michigan State University.
Our aged-out youth, our foster families and our biological families need mentoring. There are many programs that need long-term mentors, and while the people needing support are different, the characteristics of outstanding mentors remain the same. Learn from Amy and Erin as they explain what characteristics make great mentors and how you can grow those qualities in yourself.
Exploring Adoption and Foster Care Track
FOSTERING AS A MISSION
Carrie Overman, Chrystal Smith, and Kylee Craggett are passionate about the foster care community. Carrie and Chrystal are both foster and adoptive moms who lead orphan care ministries in their churches. Chrystal also runs a non profit, Foster Village, that provides resources and support for foster families in the Austin area. Kylee has the unique perspective of growing up with foster and adoptive siblings and is now a social worker at a child placing agency.
Travis County and the surrounding counties need 300 new foster families so that no child goes without loving care during an extremely difficult time in their lives. In order to foster well, we need people who are missionally minded and prepared for the challenges and joys. Learn from two foster families and a social worker about the steps needed to move through the process, how to prepare your heart when children return to biological families, and what you need to know about kids from hard places.
Matt Kouri is a 3-time adoptive parent with his wife, Julie. He is TBRI trained and an ETC trainer. Matt was appointed, by Governor Perry, to chair the Texas Adoption Review Committee and by the Texas Attorney General to the Choose Life Advisory Committee. Professionally, Matt is the CEO of Greenlights for Nonprofit success, a nonprofit management consulting organization.
Kenneth is an author, blogger, and podcaster. He and his wife adopted their son in 2012 through foster care. Kenneth writes and talks about topics related to foster care, adoption, missions (both local and foreign), non-profit work, and a few others. The common theme is being the hands and feet of Christ in a hurting world. Kenneth currently serves on the board of Fostering Hope Austin.
FIRESIDE CHAT WITH THE DADS
Let’s admit it, this foster/adopt thing is just a little bit crazy. Bringing a sibling set of 4 into your home in the middle of the night. Flying around the world to get your son or daughter. Adopting a son who’s bigger than you are. Building a relationship with the biological family of a child living in your home. Then giving that same child back to the bio family. No wonder people think we are crazy sometime. With such emotional, financial, and even physical risk, why would anyone want to do this? Who lives on this edge besides crazy people? Hear why Matt Kouri and Kenneth Camp, two of the most boring, normal, non-crazy dads you have ever met, believe that living on this edge is the best thing that has ever happened to their marriages, their families, and their faith.
BRIDGING RACIAL LINES
Latasha Morrison is the Operations Director at Gateway Church and the Founder of Be the Bridge to Racial Unity, a national movement to overcome racial injustices. She an abolitionist, bridge-builder, engager, and a leading voice in the fight against human trafficking.
The choice to adopt a child or children of another race is to enter new territory both culturally and personally. Do you have friends of other races? What is your family background, culture, race, ethnic identity? These and other questions will be explored as we talk about the real challenges families face when adopting across ‘racial lines.’ Our goal is to foster ongoing familial discussion, introspection, and awareness.
Sarah Miller is Fostering Hope Austin’s Director of Training and Education. She and her husband have fostered 20 children and have 4 children through adoption and 2 biological children. Sarah is a TBRI Educator and is an Empowered to Connect Trainer. She is also a registered nurse, with experience working in both emergency rooms and public schools.
Are you so new to this process you are not even sure what you don’t know? Does adoption terminology sound like a foreign language to you? Do you need the basics to help you feel like you can even start exploring the various processes? A panel of families will give you a quick overview of all the adoption options and present basic questions to ask yourself as you explore what adoption would look like for your family.
RELATIONSHIPS WITH BIOLOGICAL FAMILIES
Janice and Brandon Reyes are foster and adoptive parents with nine years of marriage and three kids, ages 8, 8, and 7. They met as teachers of inner city youth in Bronx, NY, where they fell in love and discovered a shared joy in caring for kids from hard places. After having two biological boys nearly one year apart, in 2015 they adopted their daughter after a nine-month foster care placement. Looking back, Brandon now considers his greatest achievement to be having taught four kids to ride a bike. Janice enjoys reading everything out there on parenting and trauma and applying all she's learned to help raise a generation of kids who love God, love people, and love themselves. They are active in their church and enjoy advocating and supporting others whenever they can.
Navigating the relationships with biological families can be difficult, whether you are adopting or fostering. But there can be joy in these relationships, both for us and our children. Every family has a unique experience with the biological family. Even so, we can maintain a softness in our hearts for them regardless of the boundaries that may or may not be needed. Whether your child is adopted or reunification is the plan for your foster child, this presentation will provide insight on having a healthy relationship with biological parents.
Dr. Ken Wilgus received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and Clinical Internship at Michael Reese Medical Center in Chicago. He received a Masters degree in School Psychology from Trinity University in San Antonio after completing his Bachelor’s degree from Baylor University. He was formerly the Director of Psychology for the Child and Adolescent Department at the Minirth-Meier Clinic in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Ken Wilgus is a licensed psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their families, couples therapy and individual therapy with adults. He maintains a private, outpatient practice with offices in McKinney and Dallas.
Dr. Ken Wilgus knows the incredible challenges that parenting teens can bring to a family and he knows that teens with trauma can be even more difficult. Dr. Wilgus brings a loving and firm approach to parenting teens that will allow parents to understand their role in giving their teens healthy independence.
THE LIES WE BELIEVE ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Dr. Chris Thurman is a psychologist in private practice in Austin, Texas. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestseller, The Lies We Believe, and his most recent book, The Lies Couples Believe. He and his wife, Holly, have been married for thirty-six years and have three grown children they are crazy about and a granddaughter they think hung the moon. Dr. Thurman's professional passion for forty-years has been to help people break free from faulty beliefs and attitudes and the emotional and relational destruction they cause.
We are all prone to faulty views of what a relationship is supposed to be like. In this presentation, Dr. Thurman will cover the three deadliest lies we believe about having a close bond with others, lies that cause damage to a sense of safety and security in our intimate relationships. Healthy, biblical ways of thinking about relationships with the people we love will be explored along with how to be transformed by the renewal of your mind to be the loving person God meant you to be.
FOSTERING FOR THE LONG-TERM
Kimberly and Doug Uyechi have fostered for over 6 years and have 3 children through adoption. Their last year has been working at an emergency placement shelter meeting and transitioning more than 53 toddlers, elementary-aged and teenagers. Doug is a technical consultant at Hewlett-Packard and also serves as a part time associate worship pastor at First Baptist Church Salado. Kimberly serves as director of the Georgetown Christian Home Educators Association and works full time homeschooling their children.
Our community has a great need for foster families who can commit to long-term fostering. But the fostering journey can be difficult and it is hard to find joy in the journey and sustain a missional mindset. Learn how Kimberly and Doug Uyechi, who have fostered for over 6 years, have continued to foster well through the challenges and broken system. Learn steps to finding joy, peace, and rest while ministering to others in distress.
Sarah Sherwood is a certified Life Coach, Spiritual Director, Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner, and she has over a decade of experience as a licensed Massage Therapist, to help others clear their path and move through the things they fear the most. Sarah helps people explore and identify what is holding them back, and offers practical strategies for overcoming obstacles and tools for using a mind-body-spirit connection to transform lives.
We want to provide a special time just for caseworkers, therapists and child welfare professionals. Attend the general session with everyone and then join Sarah Sherwood, Life Coach, in her session and network with other professionals at a special lunch setting designated just for you. End the conference with Dr. Ken Wilgus, an expert in raising teens, author and psychologist.
9:00-10:15 General Session with Keynote Speaker
10:15-1:40 Intensive with Sarah Sherwood and Lunch
Discover how to maintain a soft, compassionate heart while having the resiliency, and tenacity, to get through the difficulty of working in the foster care system. Learn tools to regulate your nervous system, and fact check the beliefs and narratives you are making up, so you can be more present on the job.
Sarah will train you in her unique approach to self-regulation, as well as lead you through practical application, and experiential exercises, to deepen your understanding and bring about new perspectives. Because of Sarah’s coach-approach, you will leave with actionable steps to move forward in a new, resilient way.
1:50-3:00 Dr. Ken Wilgus
3:00-3:30 Closing General Session