The Adoption Journey Conference is hosted by County Line Church of God and provided for the Northeast Indiana region. Our goal is for this conference to be a resource event for the increasing number of families living in Northeast Indiana who are thinking about adoption, are in the adoption process, or have adopted. We have intentionally chosen our name and logo to reflect the experience of families going through an adoption.

What’s in a name?

From the beginning to the end of life, adoption is a journey that is filled with ups and downs, sharp turns, and smooth roads. This rings true for the parentsadopting and the orphans who are being adopted.

A picture says a thousand words…

The path reflects the journey that parents, families, and orphans travel down.
The mountains represent the highs and lows that families experience throughout the adoption process. The highs can be filled with joy, while the valleys can be full of disappointment.
The cross represents the one act that opened the doors for all of humanity to be adopted into the family of God.
The color scheme (red, yellow, black, and white) is a reminder of  God’s love for all of humanity, in particular “the  little children of the world.”



2016 Conference Schedule
February 27, 2016 

Info & Schedule

2016 Adoption Journey Conference Schedule


8:30am-9:00am Sign-in & Registration
9:00am-10:45am Morning General Session
10:50am-11:50am Morning Breakout Sessions
11:50am-1:15pm Lunch
1:15pm-2:15pm  Afternoon Breakout Sessions
2:15pm-4:00pm Afternoon General Session








Thinking About Adoption
Dealing with Attachment Disorder
7 Core Issues of Adoption
How to Become Foster Parents
Understanding the Law in Adoption & Foster Care
Safe Families for Children


Funding Your Adoption
Dealing with Attachement Disorder
Dealing with Behavior Issues
Adoption Through Special Needs
Raising Children of a Different Race
Telling your Child's Story 

2016 Tickets here
Single Registration - $30 | Couples - $55

Vendor Table Hosts & Sponsorships
We are pleased to extend an invitation to host a table at our 2016 conference. 

Host tables / Sponsorships



We want to invite your organization to be a resource for local families who are interested in adoption or who have already added to their families through adoption. You can share your message with hundreds of families looking at adoption by hosting a table at the upcoming 2016 adoption conference. The Adoption Journey Conference hosted 150 people in 2014 and is returning  to County Line Church of God on February 27, 2016.

Many options are available this year. If you are interested in being a part of this incredible day, please contact booth coordinator Sheila Stetzel at (260) 627-2482 or by emailing her at: sstetzel@countylinechurch.org




  • Accessibility to all of our conference attendees
  • 6' x 8' table provided
  • FREE registration for one person with lunch (additional ticket costs: $20.00)
  • "Day before" or "Day of" set up time for your table

COST: $50.00

You will need to provide table coverings, displays and any extension cords or electronics necessary. Merchandise is allowed to be sold at this event. You are responsible for accepting payments for items sold. Space is limited. 

Hear the stories...

Adoptive Family Stories

Adoption Family Stories - Interviews


The Stayers - "STRENGTH"


Matt & Angie Biddle - "FAITH"


Amina Thompson - "GRACE"

The Bristols - "WISDOM"

Conference Sponsors

Conference Sponsors

2016 Conference Schedule
Speakers & Bios 

Speakers & Bios

2016 Adoption Journey Conference Speakers & Bios


Morning Keynote Speakers:


Stuart Kruse

Stuart Kruse is the Senior Pastor of County Line Church of God located on the DeKalb/Allen County Line.  He was hired as the Associate Pastor in 2001 and became the Senior Pastor in 2009.  Growing up at County Line, Stuart counts it a true blessing to be able to serve at his home church.  County Line recently appeared in Outreach Magazine as one of the top 100 fastest growing churches in America.  Stuart attributes the growth to the congregation’s willingness to humbly follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit.  Stuart has been married to his wife, Tisha, for 23 years.  Stuart and Tisha had three biological children, Camden, Logan and Kenlee,  before adopting their daughter, Reena, from China in 2010.



Joy Gilraine

 Joy is a mother to six kids ages 6-22. Her youngest joined the family through foster care and adoption. She has two grown daughters who have moved out of her house and left her stranded happily on boy island with her husband and four sons. She has three Haitian sons who may never share her home or have her last name, but have a permanent place in her family and heart. On Boy Island she serves as an on-call chef, a a 5-star Nerf war general, sought after Lego architect and bedtime warden. 


Afternoon Keynote Speaker:


Lisa Thompson is a mom to four adopted kids, two from Ukraine and two from Guatemala. Lisa’s oldest daughter is launching a career to make the world more beautiful, her second daughter is an amazing college-bound athlete. They’ll leave Lisa and her husband Fred at home with their nine-year-old twins who, after being Thompsons for three years, are learning what it means to be able to trust their forever family. 

Lisa loves travel, designer shoes, and amazing handbags, but she loves adoption even more. She and her husband Fred own a business offering social media and web services to entrepreneurs and small businesses. Lisa is the social media manager for Master Spas and her blog encourages and equips families to create fun, happy homes. Lisa is passionate about finding joy in the most challenging situations. She never shrinks from a challenge and she never fails to find joy. Lisa channels Jesus’ love for others into her passion to care for hurting children and to bring His healing love into their lives. 


Suze Fair is the Director of Expression and Experience at Fellowship Missionary Church. Suze is the wildly optimistic and enthusiastic member of the leadership team. She absolutely boils over with ideas and energy. Officially at Fellowship she oversees our creative team. Her title is "Director of Expression and Experience." Suze loves working alongside her husband, Kelly, who is also on Fellowship's staff. She's crazy about her three wonderful children. And for good reason - they're great kids. If she would be allowed, Suze would spend the bulk of her days perched on her front porch, reading, writing, blogging and visiting with friends - while sipping on Starbucks.

Married to Kelly for nearly 30 years, Suze and her family have lived in Northern Indiana for 2 decades and think it’s been just the right place to raise their mostly grown 3 children.  Suze is involved in her community, passionate about the Arts & their redemptive potential, and finds great joy in sharing the good news of the Gospel on College Campuses or in Retreat/Conference settings or at her local coffee shop!

Worship Lead By:


Lee Houtz 

Lee has been leading worship in churches since 1994. he joined the staff of Grabill Missionary on September 1, 2006. He grew up in Myerstown, Pennsylvania (near Hershey) and moved west to attend Huntington University in 1996.  Upon graduating Huntington in 2000 with a degree in Education Ministries (along with marrying his college sweetheart, Amber) he was hired by a church in Ohio to serve as both Worship and Youth Pastor.  Amber and Lee have two young children, Ellie and Jack. Lee enjoys playing and watching sports of all kinds; especially golf, football, baseball (go Red Sox!), and tennis. Lee also enjoys playing guitar and piano, as well as listening to, writing, and recording music.






Joy Gilraine


Joy is a mom to six kids ages 6-22. Her youngest joined the family through foster care and adoption. She has two grown daughters who have moved out of her house and left her stranded happily on boy island with her husband and four sons. She has three Haitian sons who may never share her home or have her last name, but have a permanent place in her family and heart. On Boy Island she serves as an on-call chef, a a 5-star Nerf war general, sought after Lego architect and bedtime warden. 

Joy attends Community of Hope church in Columbia City, Indiana. She and her husband have recently partnered with Grow New England and are looking forward to where God will lead them on this new adventure. She also spends as much time as possible connecting with the children and leaders at Children First Ministries, an orphanage and school in Cabaret Haiti. She loves sharing about her life and God's word whenever she has the opportunity. She is passionate about finding beauty in overlooked people and places. It is in these people and places that she most clearly experiences and sees God's grace in action.

Melissa Montana

Conference Emcee: Melissa Montana is the CEO & President of Star 88.3. Melissa has been featured in "Today's Christian Woman" for her adoption story and as founder and host of the annual Adoption Celebration. She is a popular host for functions in the area and has been honored with 21 Alive's "Women in Leadership Award." However, Melissa's greatest joy in life is being a mom to her daughter LaShay born in Guatemala.



Jenny Bertsch

So You Are Thinking About Adopting: Jenny Bertsch provides Adoption Resources and Client Support for Loving Shepherd Ministries.  Prior to joining LSM in 2013, she worked for 10 years as an Adoption Case Manager, writing home studies and providing post adoption support.  Jenny has two children and is passionate about promoting adoption and caring for vulnerable children.  She and her late husband, Zach, partnered with LSM in 2010 to start the Cancer Redemption Project to build Homes of Hope for vulnerable children in Haiti. 


Arleta James

Arleta James, PCC has been an adoption professional for 20 years. She spent 15 years providing adoption-attachment-trauma informed therapies at the Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio. She also spent several years as a caseworker for the Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption Network placing foster children with adoptive families. She then served as the statewide Matching Specialist.

Her book, Welcoming a New Brother or Sister by Adoption: From Navigating New Relationships to Loving Families, is based on her experience helping typical children cope and thrive post-adoption. Arleta plans and facilitates children’s groups such as, Learning from Frogs…Let’s be “Mindful” Every Day!, “I am a quality kid”: Facilitating Self-Esteem in Traumatized Adoptees, The Feelings Express: A Group about Identifying and Articulating Emotions,  Learning to Make Friends and Play Nicely: Helping Traumatized Adoptees Develop Social Skills, and “Help! My Family Adopted”: Seeing to It that Brothers and Sisters Flourish and Thrive Post-Adoption. Arleta has written over 100 articles about attachment, trauma, managing troubling behaviors, parental self-care, taking care of brothers and sisters in adoptive families, etc. These articles are all available on this website. Arleta was the honored as the 1999 Pennsylvania Adoption Professional of the Year.


Jody Stayer 

Jody Stayer is a mother of 7 siblings adopted from Los Angeles foster care system.  She has been married to her husband Bobby for 5 years.  Although she is now a stay at home mother, she is licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist and worked for 7 years in the adoption field in the Los Angeles area.  Her major areas of study include adoption issues, attachment, and trauma.  Jody also served as a missionary in Romania for 3 years after college working with institutionalized children which is where she gained her passion for adoption and orphan care.   

Course description: The Core Issues of Adoption all revolve around loss.  Without loss, there would be no adoption.  Adoption should be celebrated, but consideration should also be given to the issues that will be faced by the adoption triad (adoptee, adoptive parents, and birthparent).  These issues are loss, grief, rejection, shame/guilt, identity, intimacy, and mastery/control.  During this session, the issues will be defined and examples given.  Adoptive parents, pre-adoptive parents, and foster parents will be encouraged to reframe their childrens' behaviors as they understand how the core issues of adoption are behind them, therefore better understanding their child and themselves as they begin or continue on the adoption journey. 


Jennifer Savage

 Jennifer graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a Bachelors Degree in Social Work in 1998. Jennifer moved to Indiana from Michigan in July of 2005.  Jennifer is married and has 3 children from 16 to 8.   Jennifer started working for the Department of Child Services in 2005.  Jennifer has been with DCS for 10 years.  Jennifer started as a Family Case Manager (FCM) in Dekalb County until June 2014 when she became the SNAP specialist for the NE regions 3 and 4.    



Rich Metcalfe

Program Director Since late 2010, I have served as Program Director for Lifesong for Orphans. I’ve been married to my beautiful wife Becky for more than 20 years and have 6 amazing children. Prior to joining the Lifesong team, our family served as a missionaries in England for 11 years. I am thankful for the opportunity to connect with churches and individuals with the Father’s heart for the orphan and the need around the world. There is so much to be done, and the Lord has chosen the Church to be His vessel in meeting the need. 
Mary Morgan
Mary is a Regional Foster Care Specialist with a B.A. Degree in Social Science, M.S. ED. In Counseling, Student Personnel Administration and M.S. ED. In School Counseling. Mary began employment with the state of Indiana in April of 2008, she was Family Case Manager for 3 years. She Transferred as a Regional Foster Care Specialist in April 2011 and  she is currently in that position. 

Andrew Goeglein
Andrew has a B.S. in Public Affairs and J.D. from Indiana University and 34 years of experience as a Partner at Nieter & Goeglein Law Firm. He has worked in the adoption field his entire career representing agencies and adopting parents in international, private domestic, and foster care adoptions. He will be speaking at the conference about Navigating the Legal Aspects of Adoption. 



Pastor Luther Whitfield

Dr. Luther Whitfield is the founder and senior pastor/ teacher of New Covenant Worship Center, located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Prior to starting New Covenant, Pastor  Whitfield served as the National City Life Director for Youth For Christ USA and also as the Senior Director for the Primetime Community Center, where he still serves and engages today on a regular basis.  Pastor Whitfield is an outstanding communicator who is highly sought on a national level as a speaker on youth and urban issues. He has an incredible passion for young people that has been developed through over 30 years of experience. Pastor Whitfield began his career as an elementary school teacher as stated earlier, but was soon called into ministry.  In his first position he served as youth pastor at Calvary Chapel, a large urban church, where he grew his youth group to 500 active students. He was the first black youth pastor serving the Fort Wayne community. Pastor Whitfield has been with Youth For Christ for over 20 years.


Anna Wolak

Anna Wolak directs the Indiana Adoption Program (IAP), which is a statewide contract used by the Indiana Department of Child Services to provide media recruitment for children in foster care, as well as foster/adoptive parent recruitment. IAP manages the photo/video listing on www.adoptuskids.org, publishes the “Opening Hearts. Changing Lives.” picture book, coordinates Adoption Meet & Greet events, Adoption Educational Events, and National Adoption Month celebrations, and responds to inquiries from www.adoptachild.in.gov. Wolak has her Master’s in New Arts Journalism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). She has worked with the Indiana Adoption Program since 2009.


Shawana Cole

Shawana Cole is a Fort Wayne, Indiana based hairstylist committed to giving clients that “celebrity look” while educating them on how to maintain the health and integrity of their hair. Shawana was born and raised in Chicago where she began her career, and honed her technical skills and knowledge. She has traveled and studied abroad learning cutting edge technique to help transform the everyday woman.


Jared and DeAnn Jennette

Jared and DeAnn Jennette started their journey of parenthood when they adopted their son from Haiti in September 2004 and had their biological son in August of 2006.    Through the joys and challenges of parenting an adopted child from a traumatic background and having a biological child with early medical trauma, Sensory Processing Disorder and ADHD; DeAnn and Jared have learned to change their parenting style and strategies to fulfill the needs of their family.   Jared has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Divinity.   His work in both pastoral care and in post-adoption services has given him extensive training in trauma-informed parenting strategies and care.   DeAnn has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and has been working as a Certified Parent Educator in public schools for the past 7 years.  She has extensive experience in coaching hundreds of parents in the areas of neuro-informed child development and discipline. 

Shirley Woods


Shirley Woods is the Founder and Founder of the Euell A. Wilson Center, (Fort Wayne, IN) a Christian based community center for at-risk youth and their families.  The center was named after her son who died suddenly in 1992. She is a graduate of Summit Bible College. (Fort Wayne, IN) and completed Leadership Fort Wayne’s Building Community program and the Allen County Youth Development Academy. She is actively involved in her church as a ministry leader. She is the founder of Women of Love intercessory prayer ministry. She also is the Program Director of Family development, a program for mothers. Ms. Woods is a 2004 graduate of Leadership Fort Wayne and was selected as 2004 Citizen of the Year by the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.  A native of Norfolk, VA, she is married to Christopher Woods for 38 years, and the mother of three children and 7 grandchildren. She and her husband has been foster parent for over 18 years. They have foster over 25 children.