Make sure to check out the article in the Beehive newspaper about our most recent FSA SW Regional Conference that was held in Tempe in October. Special thanks to Valerie Ipson who attended the conference and wrote the article.
At the conference Josh and Andrea Allen were replaced by Shane and Megan Hilton as the Mesa FSA Co-Chairs after 2+ years of service. Be on the lookout for more information about FSA Leadership changes and next year’s activities.
Adoption Conference Celebrates the Roles of Birthparents, Adoptive Parents and Adopted Children
By: Valerie Ipson
Organized around the idea that birth families, adoptive families and those adopted have much to offer each other, a recent Families Supporting Adoption (FSA) conference held at the Tempe ASU Institute, recognized the three members of the adoption triad and the significant relationship they share.
“Linked in Love: Celebrating Adoption Together” was the theme of the regional conference.
An adoptive parent of one, Andrea Allen, who co-chaired the event with her husband, Josh, says, “Traditionally, FSA has only been attended by couples currently hoping to adopt or those who have recently adopted, though we recognized that many others are touched by adoption and should be included in our group. We have long sought to include birthparents especially, as well as adoptees, extended family members and couples who are parenting adopted children. There are so many families out there who have experienced the miracle of adoption.”
The conference schedule reflected this desire to support all those touched by adoption. Sessions included a track for birthparents, with classes such as “What to Expect Post-Placement” and “Sharing Your Passion for Adoption.” Multiple classes for adoptive couples included “Parenting the Adopted Child,” “How to Communicate with Your Birthparents,” and “Arizona Adoption Law.”
Adoption options were showcased with trans-racial adoption and international adoption panel discussions, birthparent and birthgrandparent panels, and foster and adult adoptee panels.
FSA, organized nationally with a regional chapter based in Mesa, provides a network of support to those in the adoption community. FSA works closely with LDS Family Services (LDSFS) to build and strengthen families and they support and educate those seeking to adopt through LDSFS. FSA advocates a positive view of adoption in the community, through outreach programs to churches and schools to explain the benefits of adoption and influence birth parents to seek help from LDSFS. They also work to encourage the media to present accurate information about adoption.
Andrea says, “When we started with FSA (or rather the whole adoption process) we felt as if we were entering another world, a taboo world that was rarely talked about. FSA has brought to us an understanding, a knowledge that we are not alone, and that adoption is not a second rate way of building a family.”
Southwest Area Group Manager of LDS Family Services, Matt Watson, said of FSA and the conference, “Many times people feel that they are different or ‘not normal’ because their family has developed in a nontraditional way. This organization helps normalize that experience and helps connect people with others who share in their unique journey. This conference reflects the collective, miraculous love of many wonderful people who have been touched by adoption.”
This year’s conference attracted more than 300 attendees, who were able to share in this community of knowledge, experience, and fellowship.
Andrea says, “[My husband and I] are currently in the ‘finding’ phase of our second adoption. Our daughter is 21/2 and we plan to add to our family soon – in the Lord’s time of course. We add our testimonies to those of countless others who consider adoption to be the perfect plan for their lives. Some hope for the miracle of conception, but we know that adoption IS our miracle.”
Throughout the conference, others expressed similar testimonies and shared stories of their own “miracles,” providing ample evidence that regardless of the part one plays in the process, adoption is worth celebrating.