Starting in 2005, when presenting with Bart in Pittsburg, I wrote a legendary blog post called, "How's NACAC?" that was quoted in a NACAC publication. It was from the perspective of a parent. Since then I have attempted to blog a post about each year.
In 2006 I blogged from Long Beach, California from the perspective of a professional.
In 2007, Year Three, I blogged from Tampa about "Support from the past and the future".
2008 we somehow ditched NACAC, but in 2009 we were in Columbus,Ohio and I blogged about how NACAC is about connection
In 2010 I wrote from Hartford, Connecticut about how NACAC demonstrates that everything is intertwined..
In 2011 we were in Denver and I referred to NACAC as the resurgence of hope.
And finally, in 2012 I blogged from Washington DC about how NACAC is the re-ignition of passion.
Four years went by and for several reasons we were not at NACAC. But here I am in Nashville reflecting on day one of the conference. Bart and I did a seminar this morning about the "Syndrome of the Empty Nest" and looked out at the faces of a group of people who were at our stage in life. The stage of life where we are still financially and otherwise responsible for adult children.
And I realized, that this year, for me, NACAC is about remembering.
NACAC is about remembering who. We remember who has encouraged us in our journey. We reconnect with those who have spoken into our lives at different stages. We remember, maybe, who it was that talked us into it in the first place. We remember the people who have taught us various things along the way. And in addition, we remember who we are. We see ourselves in the faces of others and we are encouraged by them... by their naiveté because we have been there, by their grief, because we share it, by their strength, because we borrow from it, by their joy, because we have experienced it, by their wisdom, because we have learned from it. We remember the "who"s in our lives that have made our journey so blessed.
NACAC is about remembering what. We ask "What were we thinking" and then remember what it was that brought us here. We remember the lessons learned in the past and the knowledge we have gained here. We remember what we were taught and how it has impacted our lives.
NACAC is about remembering where. We remember where we have been and we remember where we are going. We remember where we were when we heard things for the first time (as I discuss below) We remember where we had dinner with the people we have grown to love, and which hotel we were in when a lightbulb went on in our heads. We remember the various cities we have visited that have hosted the conferences.
NACAC is about remembering the whens. We remember when we had just adopted kids and how that felt. We remember when we struggled and were strengthened. For us it is very personal. We remember the year we met Pat O'Brien in person and began a wonderful relationship with him that has involved a couple trips to New York City and several meals at NACACs since then. (we just had dinner with him last night). We remember the year we finally got to have dinner with Brenda McCreight. We remember when we heard Debra Hage speak for the first time or when we first learned about inducement in 2007.. We remember when we laughed with friends, and cried with them.
But most of all NACAC is about remembering the whys. It is about remembering why we decided to do this in the first place. It is about remembering that kids grow better in families and that every kid should have one. It is about remembering that we did not adopt our children to abandon them. It is remembering that God called us to do this and so we will continue to take steps forward. It is about remembering the white hot why that has guided us throughout our journey.
So as the years go by, NACAC becomes a time of remembrance. It is a time to remember our own children and why we adopted them in the first place, but it is also a time to remember those kids still out there... over 100,000 of them, who still need permanency. And together, as parents and professionals, we join together to head into another year of making sure that as many of these kids as possible can join a family and make a connection with their permanent parent(s).
Tonight we had dinner with Dan and Terri Coley who work at Show Hope and we heard their whole story for the first time. And after dinner I mentioned to Bart how sacred this adoption journey is. Each of us who has chosen to care for kids from hard places is somehow intertwined in a very real way with the heart of God -- even if we don't describe it that way. This is truly a God-ordained path that, while not for the faint of heart, is miraculous.
So tonight I am grateful for NACAC. I believe the is our 10th year of attending... because there were at least two that I didn't blog about. The people that I have met, the places I have been, the experiences I have had, have been amazing. And NACAC has allowed all this to be possible.
So again I end my first day of NACAC grateful for the sacred journey of my life and the way that NACAC has been woven throughout the pathway we have traversed and allowed us to remember the important things along the way.