A Surprising Way To Solve The World’s Problems: Adopt Together
Written by Betsy Parton in partnership with Adopt Together to raise awareness for World Adoption Day.
At Mother Untitled, we celebrate the role of mother. We talk about what it means to transition into a season where we evolve and shift parts of our lives to nurture these tiny humans. And we celebrate the fact that there isn’t just one, good ole fashioned way, of becoming a mother. There are a handful of equally inspiring and transformative ways – including adoption.
In honor of World Adoption Day (this Thursday, November 9th), we are taking this week to celebrate the experience of adoptive families and bring awareness to the impact of adoption. And we are excited to partner with an organization changing the adoption game. Adopt Together is the world’s largest non-profit crowdfunding platform for adoption that “bridges the gap between families who want to adopt and the children who need loving homes”.
Aside from its impressive impact on adoption in such a short time (there would be no World Adoption Day if it weren’t for AT), at the core of Adopt Together is a fascinating story about its founder, Hank Fortener.
Born into a family with 2 biological siblings, Hank’s parents fostered 36 children over 7 years. Sometimes the kids would stay for 2 weeks and sometimes for 2 years. Hank experienced the heartbreak that comes with the broken foster system – foster siblings he and his family loved would be abruptly ripped out of the home and sent to another or worse, back to a harmful situation or family member. After too much heartbreak, Hank’s parents decided to transition from fostering to adoption. Over the course of 10 years, they adopted 8 children from 5 different countries. In seeing “the transformational power of a family, irreplaceable unbelievable power of what it means to create an environment of unconditional love”, Hank became committed to finding a family for every child.
The Staggering Statistics
There are 17.8 million children in the world who are orphans, 500,000 right here in the U.S. The statistics for what happens to these children once they age out of the foster care system are grim.
Hank believes firmly that family is “the answer to almost everything”. Several of the children his family adopted were given slim chances to live a normal life, both physically and mentally, due to an array of issues they were born with or into (cleft palate, fetal alcohol syndrome, abuse). After being loved and cared for, they have all beaten the odds and have gone to college, graduated and excelled at their jobs.
In the US, 33% of couples consider adoption; however, 79% of these families are deterred by these high costs and in the end, 2% adopt.
“It’s crazy to us that in the middle of this process, you have families who would consider bringing one of the children out from the cold into their home but it’s the cost that deters them,” says Hank. The math he went on to do was if we could move the needle by 1%, we could give 67,500 kids families every single year.
A 30th Birthday Wish
So Hank called his dad (an expert in both the foster and adoption processes) and they decided there was a way to scale this. They could create a place where families who want to adopt could create profiles and a space where people can give donations, while at the same time create a network of people who would support a family as they were going through the adoption process. Simultaneously, the team would make sure that families who were using the platform to ask for donations were already approved by the state and ready to adopt, with the cost being the only barrier.
Hank gathered his close friends and family on his 30th birthday to launch the AT website, asking for donations in lieu of gifts. 5 years later, AT has raised over $12.6 million, helped over 3,000 families from around the world and rallied celebrity interest including our personal favorite - Ellen.
We are personally committed to AT not just because of its founding story but the example that everyone has something to give – whether as big as adopting a child or as meaningful as donating to help a family adopt. And we quite simply believe in a family for every child.
If you are interested in being involved with Adopt Together, please visit the site. In the meantime, help spread awareness for #WorldAdoptionDay by drawing a smile on your hand and posting it on Thursday, November 9th!