stepping into the world of adoption.


Sometimes I wonder how I got here – a place where I’m being asked to speak in classrooms and churches and retreats and events, having my voice invited to share a message of brokenness, longing, awakening and redemption. It’s not what I imagined at 38. (Geesh! 38 sounded so old 10 years ago!) I’m blown away each time an email or phone call enters my day asking me to come share my story with parents, learners, on-lookers, skeptics, the curious, those in process, and sometimes, those who are really ready to listen. I’m deeply humbled and grateful, and also (just ask my husband), so incredibly thrilled! Me? Wow.

I’m so new to this huge world of adoption. I’ve only been in it for about a year, and it’s blowing my hair back! It’s filled with parents and families and advocates who are for the well-being of orphans – those whose stories have unfolded in ways that have left them without one or both of their birth parents, those whose stories have experienced relational loss so early in life, those whose stories have set them up to easily believe they don’t matter. There are hundreds of organizations and ministries who are working diligently to bring homes and families and love and hope to vulnerable lives, weakened hearts, questioning minds. They are seeking the GOOD in humanity. They are offering Jesus to the world. I celebrate that. I affirm that.

So, what is it that I’m asked to bring to this world of adoption that’s different, that adds to, what already is being done? Because there’s a lot of good that’s being done.

For me, as I cautiously and delicately step into this world as an adopted person, I have this deep sense, this calling, to share “the other part of the story.” The part of the story that also needs voice, but the part of the story that’s not so easy to talk about or look at or feel or listen to. It’s the “broken” part of the story – where the loss and trauma and fracturing and shame began. This is part of the story too. We have to know where these sweet children have come from in order to understand where they need to go – what needs to be healed and restored, where life needs to be breathed into again. What I’m finding is that this part of the story isn’t always recognized, honored or given light. But, we have to know this part of the story too. Because if we don’t, we’ll miss the chance for experiencing redemption. We’ll miss how the work of the cross can enter in and make new, heal, restore, rescue. And if we miss that, we’ll find ourselves relying on our own human strength to help these children who have come from hard places and we’ll miss the larger story of how Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted by using the brokenhearted. We may even miss seeing Jesus in this whole orphan movement.

“When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else.” Iyanla Vanzant

So, here I am – one small voice in the sea of voices resounding in our ears. My prayer is that as my voice and my message are invited into these beautiful spaces, that I will use it well – not from an angry or resentful or “you should” place, but from a place of humility, from a place of personal experience, from a place of encouragement…cheering this movement on, yet also reminding us all that we must listen to “the rest of the story” as we proclaim the Gospel – the good news – to the world.

I’m so, so grateful to be invited to speak at Summit 9 – the annual Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in Nashville, TN. I’ll be speaking in a breakout session called, “Finding Me,” where I will share my own story and the impact that relinquishment has had in my life and how God is healing the deepest places within me. And then I was invited to be a part of an outstanding group of 9 others for the “oneBIGidea” presentations. But, here’s the kicker…my 8-minute “TED talk”-style presentation will actually be in front of the large audience on Thursday evening rather than with the others. Oh my, oh my, oh my! We’ve titled it, “LISTEN: Why we must listen to the beauty and the brokenness in every adoptee’s story, and how doing so might just change all of us.” I’ve got 8 minutes to share a message – my one big idea – that I believe every orphan advocate should ponder. Talk about insane pressure, crazy courage, and pure vulnerability! Ahhhhh! (I’m gonna need a pep talk!)

I hope you consider attending this year’s Summit. As always, it will be filled with amazing speakers and educators and artists and musicians. It’s a time where thousands will gather under one roof dreaming of ways that we can better step into the lives of children who are loveable, capable, needed, wanted…who were meant to be on this earth from the beginning of time. Everyone is invited, not just those who have adopted or who plan to adopt. This is for anyone who is up for fighting for what’s good and true.

Hope to see you there!

If you’re interested, you can follow what’s happening on the Summit BLOG.


15 thoughts on “stepping into the world of adoption.

  1. Carissa, God will guide and lead your every step, thought, and word as go to the Summit in Nashville . There is a scripture that says you will go beyond the summit, your gifts, kindness, knowledge and beauty will touch millions of hearts as you follow where Jesus has never walked.  He is holding your right hand as you take each step toward your wholeness and every person you come in connect with will walk away blessed  by your words and encouragement, the light you shine will rest on there souls for the rest of there days. You my friend are a gift . Love Di

    Live in wonder


    • you are a cheerleader, di! i’m so grateful to have your encouragement and support and advocacy and belief. thank you, friend! oh, and thank you for the dessert monday night! hugs!

  2. Carissa, surely the Lord is with you and has anointed you for such a time as this. You bring truth. Dear Lord bless the truth bringers! Truth brings light to dark places, it frees people from lies they tell themselves or lies that have been forced on them by others. The truth you speak is not destructive it brings life, hope, healing and understanding. Be strong and courageous as you go out into this crazy adoption world and keep lending your voice, keep speaking truth, keep doing the good work God created you for!

    For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Eph 2:10

    You are indeed a masterpiece my sister in Christ. Thank you for all you are and all that you do.


    • angie – wow! thank you for your words. thank you for the specific word, “truth.” i’m a truth-teller and always learning what is true and how to offer it. thank you for your encouragement and reminder of who God created me to be and what he has equipped me to do.

  3. THIS: … the “broken” part of the story – where the loss and trauma and fracturing and shame began. This is part of the story too. We have to know where these sweet children have come from in order to understand where they need to go – what needs to be healed and restored, where life needs to be breathed into again. What I’m finding is that this part of the story isn’t always recognized, honored or given light. But, we have to know this part of the story too. Because if we don’t, we’ll miss the chance for experiencing redemption.

    Yes, friend-whom-I-have-yet-to-meet-in-person, YES. This is where Jesus is taking me, too. To the broken parts of so many stories. To share my own brokenness that I discovered through infertility, and by sharing bring some “permission” to be broken, because only THEN can Redemption mean something. Exactly as you said. I’m SO GLAD you’re bringing this voice to Summit this year!

    • cheering on your courage and bravery and hopeful of what God is going to do…in you, through you. may God surprise you in huge ways. may you know his delight in you!

  4. Carissa,
    I heard you speak at Summit tonight. It was Beautiful. Eloquent. God used you in such a mighty way. Thank you for sharing your words, your truth, your heart. Is your presentation written anywhere? I would love to be able to return to these words and soak in them more as I raise my two sweet babies and do my best to honor our experience as a family.

    • you are welcome. delighted and honored to have been asked to share my voice with those who are advocates for the vulnerable. what i shared that night is not in print. it feels a bit too fresh and sacred yet, but maybe someday. i’m sure it will be available to order on the summit website. blessings as you speak truth into your little ones.

  5. I was there! I heard you Thursday night and I was in your session Finding Me. Thank you, as a fellow infant adoptee, it meant so much to me to hear someone else finally share their story and finally hear many of my own thoughts and feelings shared. It blessed my heart. I really would have loved to just had hugged you and said thank you and it’s so important what you are doing! As The Lord leads me in the same sharing direction in my own area, it was precious to have such encouragement as I step out further in this direction. Nothing is ever wasted in His hand. God Bless you sweet sister in Christ and fellow adoptee.

    • go forth, jamie…with dignity and boldness and compassion and in truth. you have a story to tell and it matters! may the best parts of you be called out in your journey.

  6. Carissa,
    I also had the distinct priviledge of hearing you on Thursday night and also attending your session on Friday. As a single adoptive mom of a beautiful Ethiopian son, I fully heard your words on Thursday, and will need to hear them again and again as my son grows, to remind me to be in the hard places with him. We talk so often about his Africa mom and his family and it is was beautiful through my tears to be reminded Thursday night. Friday was much more about me and my experiences as I learned from you. So thank you for being vulnerable.

    • thanks for “listening.” thank you for telling your son his story and may you have divine wisdom and revelation as you navigate his connection to you, and to his roots. and, may you come to share more of your own story in beautiful and redemptive ways!

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