By Kristi Chaney
Over 500 people gathered in the Wilkinson Center Friday, July 28, and Saturday, July 28, for the third annual Families Supporting Adoption”s (FSA) conference, in cooperation with LDS family services.
Couples and families from 24 states, as well as from Canada, attended the conference. The conference”s theme, “Adoption…it”s about love,” has been campaigned for the past year.
Lori Throckmorton, Program Specialist for FSA and coordinator for the event, said she was pleased with the turnout. “There are 57 chapters total within the U.S., and about seven that exist in other countries,” Lori said. “Last year, there were only about 100 people. This year, the number significantly increased.”
The weekend began with a banquet honoring Michael McLean and William Pierce with the FSA”s Hall of Fame Award for their help in furthering a positive attitude toward adoption.
McLean composed three songs about adoption using three points-of-view, one from the birth parent”s, one from the adoptive parents”, and one from the child”s.
“I”ve written songs for the church for 17 years, and when I wrote ”From God”s Arms, To My Arms, to Yours,” a lot of people connected with the it,” McLean said.
“I”m humbled by [the award],” McClean said. “I hope that by doing this, more people will be encouraged to adopt.”
Pierce, founder and retired president of the National Council for Adoption, was honored for his efforts as an advocate for adoption in other countries.
“I”m very gladdened to be a part of this,” Pierce said. “Not being a member of the Church, it”s a real, incredible kind of recognition, and one which I deeply appreciate.”
The banquet agenda included Pierce as a speaker and concluded with McLean performing selected songs. The 500 conference members attended workshops on Saturday based on different aspects of adoption.
Some of the workshops included topics on Internet adoption, international adoption, informing biological children about adoption, and special needs adoption. In addition to these workshops, there was a panel of birth mothers who came, told their stories, and answered questions.
Julie and Jody Humphrey, parents of two adoptive children, are the co-chairs of the Atlanta, Georgia FSA chapter.
“We”ve had such good success that we felt we needed to give back,” Julie said. “They”ve got great speakers and great workshops, and it”s just been a terrific event.”
Sam and Tom Nickell, the Co-Chairs of the Families Supporting Adoption National Board and adoptive parents themselves, were satisfied with the conference.
“I think the conference has gone great,” Tom said. “Last year we had about 300 in attendance, and this year we”ve got over 500,” Sam said.
The Nickells said that their goals for conferences in the future are to extend the conference and continue to increase attendance numbers.