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Finding Joy in the Journey: Retreat for moms of adopted children set Sept. 29

Audubon resident Lori Kenney has organized the first-ever lakes area retreat for mothers of adopted children, "Finding Joy in the Journey," to take place Sept. 29 at Community Alliance Church in Detroit Lakes. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

Parents who choose to adopt children, for whatever the reason may be, face many challenges, as Audubon resident Lori Kenney knows first hand.

As the mother of four adopted children who are now between the ages of 16 and 25, Kenney has often struggled with parenting issues that are unique to those whose children are not born to them — and now she wants to help others who are in similar situations.

"When our family went through a tough time, not that long ago... I felt very alone," Kenney said. "I didn't know who to reach out to, or where to go (for help)."

After learning about, and attending a couple of retreats for adoptive mothers that were held in Fergus Falls, she felt inspired to start up a similar event in the lakes area.

"It's been on my heart to do this for at least four years now," she said. "I just wanted to encourage them (other parents of adopted children) and let them know there's help out there — that they're not alone."

So Kenney began working on setting up a retreat for this fall. "Finding Joy in the Journey: An Adoptive Moms Retreat" is set to take place on Saturday, Sept. 29 at Community Alliance Church in Detroit Lakes. The full-day event gets underway at 8:30 a.m., and continues until 4:30 p.m.

"There will be speakers, workshops, handouts, light snacks and lunch provided," Kenney said, adding that the $25 per person registration fee is all inclusive.

The keynote speaker is Sarah How, a nationally certified, practicing school psychologist and married mother of four who like Kenney, makes her home in the Audubon area.

"I saw something in a Fargo magazine about her," said Kenney, adding that How is a certified trainer in the Nurtured Heart Approach to parenting.

Now in its 25th year, the Nurtured Heart Approach, created by Howard Glasser, psychologist and president of the Children's Success Foundation, has achieved international acclaim as an essential set of strategies for transforming children labeled as challenging, difficult, or intense — especially those with diagnoses such as ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Autism, PTSD, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and similar difficulties — by channeling their energies in inspiring ways, without the use of medication.

In 2009, How and her husband Mark adopted two children, ages 6 and 12, from PATH therapeutic foster care, so she knows the challenges of following this approach first-hand.

"She has been invited to speak all over the world on these issues," Kenney said. "When I asked her to keynote my retreat, she said yes, she would be glad to do it."

How will also be leading one of the four breakout workshops that will follow her opening presentation. Those workshops will focus on the following:

• "Navigating legal planning for adopted and special needs children," led by Thomas Burckhard of JD Legal Planning, Fargo;

• "Understanding trauma in adopted children," led by Sarah How;

• "Executive Function 101: What is it and how do I help my scattered, late, disorganized, and unprepared child?" led by Amy Zamzo;

• "Building healthy boundaries for your relationships," led by Sally Stiele.

"All moms — and dads — are welcome," said Kenney, adding that she intends this retreat to be the kickoff to the creation of a new support group for adoptive parents.

Two support group sessions have been planned so far, to take place Tuesday, Oct. 30 and Tuesday, Nov. 27 at Lake Park-Audubon Elementary School in Audubon. For more information, or to obtain a registration form for the retreat, please contact Lori Kenney at 701-238-8046 (text or phone call) or via email at A copy of the registration form can also be downloaded from the Facebook page, "Finding Joy in the Journey = Adoptive Moms Retreat."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 18-plus years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Detroit Lakes School Board. 

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