Okay, so here’s the official post on my experience at Summit VI.  The Christian Alliance for Orphans put on another amazing and life-changing conference this year. 

The General sessions were inspiring!  It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I know that I was particularly moved by Mary Beth Chapman, who bravely shared her experience with losing her adopted daughter, Maria Sue.  She said she hates speaking in public, but she spoke so eloquently, so genuinely, it felt as though we were guests in her family room, and she was just telling us her story as we sat together over coffee.  The way that she and her husband, Stephen Curtis Chapman looked at each other, winked, gestured, as she spoke…it was so adorable.  We could feel the love between them, how this tragedy in their lives, brought them together, made their bond even stronger.  What an amazing testimony.

I was also profoundly affected by Stephanie Fast.  She was adopted at the age of nine, from South Korea.  Her story is tragic, and she has every reason to be a shell of a human being, completely broken.  She remembers being abandoned by her mother, placed on a train and just sent away.  She remembers desperately trying to walk back to her village, following the train tracks from the direction she came.  She remembers the atrocities she faced, that no child should ever have to face, experiencing evil in human form, hiding in holes dug out by soldiers in the hills during the war, shunned by everyone she comes across because she was mixed-race.  She is now 53, a woman who is strong, confident, and in my mind, the poster child for why adopting older children is an awesome thing, and how beautiful and amazing things can come from it.  She knows that her ability to overcome all that was stacked against her is only due to God.  Despite the horrific tragedies she faced, the hand of God is so clearly evident in her life.  As she spoke, I was so moved, I was choking back sobs.  Tears streamed down my face, and I was trying REALLY hard to avoid going into the “ugly cry”.  You know the one.  Catching my breath, hiccups, gasps, burps, ghastly noises, snot….oh yeah.  The Ugly Cry.  I managed to avoid it, but oh, how my throat hurt!  Blech.

Along with the General sessions, there were also breakout sessions.  A decent sized list went with each session, offering some great choices for smaller, more intense information on adoption, foster care, or global orphan care.  I loved hearing Dr. Karyn Purvis, of Texas Christian University.  She specializes in children who come from “hard places”, i.e., any child who has experienced trauma, loss, or abuse.  She was AMAZING.  I also loved Michael and Amy Monroe, founders of Tapestry at Irving Bible Church.  Their ministry is such a great example for Craig and I to follow as we make our strides toward starting up our own foster care, adoption, and global orphan care ministry at our church.  They have provided a wealth of resources for us!

Finally, one of the coolest sessions was a panel of two adoptive moms and a handful of teeenagers.  The teens were all black and the moms were white, and the session was about raising a transracial family.  It was so great to be able to listen and hear from those who have “gone before”.  I realized that one day, I will be a mother to a black man, and I had no idea what to do about that.  It’s an awesome responsibility.  My son will face racism and the thought makes me sick…but how do I help him navigate that?  This panel was so helpful, encouraging, and insightful.  I feel so much better about the task ahead of me.

If you have any interest in going to Summit next year, GO!!!!!  It is SO WORTH every single moment.  To be around people who share this passion, is so uplifting and grounding at the same time.  I am inspired and equipped because of Summit.  THANK YOU to all who worked so hard to put it together.  Now I just want to know where it’s going to be next year!!!???