At the very core of who we are exists a deep desire and fundamental need for connection, belonging, and security found only within relationship.
The mutual exchange of love between the Father, Son, and Spirit is imprinted on the human soul—we bear the Imago Dei, “image of God.” As the creation narrative unfolds, God reflects on his creation of Adam, remarking, “It is not good that man should be alone …” (Genesis 2:18). … The height of joy and depth of trust experienced through loving relationships and secure attachment are fundamentally God’s idea and God’s design.
More than 2,000 years later, we take our place in history longing for connection—remembering this foundational truth and holding onto this eternal hope for ourselves, for our neighbors, for our communities, and, perhaps most importantly, for our children.
It is these words and thoughts I shared one year ago that have served as a catalyst for much prayer, rich discussion, and strategic planning in Show Hope’s Pre+Post Adoption Support work, particularly relating to our annual Empowered to Connect Conference and Simulcast.
At Show Hope, we often say that adoption doesn’t end the day a child is welcomed home—the journey is just beginning. To that end, Show Hope launched its Empowered to Connect Conference in 2010 with the aim of equipping parents, caregivers, ministry leaders, and care professionals to better serve children impacted by adoption and foster care. Over the past 10 years, the conference has grown to include research-based tools to promote attachment and connection in families, such as Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) methods developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross from the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at TCU. At its core, TBRI works to promote trust, attachment, and connection between caregivers and children by addressing physical and emotional needs while also disarming fear-based behaviors. We have also been able to lock arms with friends at Empowered to Connect (ETC) who have offered invaluable support in the form of expertise and resources for adoptive and foster care families. ETC is an attachment-rich, community-focused program that exists to support, resource, and educate caregivers.
As the conference has taken shape over the years, Show Hope has been committed to evaluating its influence and reach. We have had the opportunity to hear from parents, ministry leaders, and professionals on the ever-changing, complex needs they face in serving children who have been impacted by early loss and trauma. Show Hope staff members also hold rich knowledge and experience with TBRI, and we continue to learn about new research, resources, and tools that align in scope with the concepts of connection, belonging, and security.
And so, with this assessment of our Empowered to Connect Conference, we have also continued to return to our mission and see with fresh eyes that Show Hope does, in fact, stand in a unique place of resourcing the Church to serve families.
With these markers leading the way, guided by the vision set forth by my parents—the Founders of Show Hope, Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman—I am excited to announce that over the months to come, our Empowered to Connect Conference will be recast and retooled as the Hope for the Journey Conference. The aim of this one-day simulcast event will be to shepherd parents and everyday caregivers to a deeper understanding of their children’s needs. By introducing robust resources and sharing practical experiences of successes and failures of the day-to-day (let’s be honest … parenting is hard!), it is our prayer that parents and caregivers will leave encouraged as they continue to journey well with their children.
Furthermore, as more and more families within the Church have responded to meeting the needs of vulnerable children by adopting and providing foster care, the demand for practical and proven resources and tools continues to grow.
In alignment with Show Hope’s mission to care for orphans by engaging the Church and reducing barriers to adoption, our faith compels us and our experience informs us as we work to reimagine our conference. We are prayerful that the Hope for the Journey Conference will help meet these needs by further resourcing churches in their endeavors to be beacons of hope and encouragement for families in their congregation and surrounding communities.
As we navigate this shift in our conference’s future, know, without wavering, that Show Hope continues to stand on the foundational truth that humanity bears the image of Christ. In some mysterious way, the tension of hard beginnings for the many children we seek to serve juxtaposed against the healing that can be found in connected, loving relationships with parents and caregivers are held together in God (Colossians 1:17). And so, while we must be clear-eyed about the hard circumstances that may have brought our children to us, we keep our hearts hopeful and anticipatory, knowing that by Christ all things were created … and in him all things hold together.
Emily Chapman Richards is Executive Director of Show Hope.