Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Support Family Preservation on This Giving Tuesday

During this year’s National Adoption Month, an organization called AdoptTogether promoted its own special day to celebrate adoption. They declared November 9 to be “World Adoption Day.” They encouraged people to draw smiley faces on the palms of their hands and to post photos of these tagged with #WorldAdoptionDay to promote their cause.

And what was their cause?

AdoptTogether boasts that it is “the world's first crowdfunding site for adoption.” On November 7, the World Adoption Day campaign was featured in an article for Forbes, which disclosed that AdoptTogether had “raised over $4 million and has served 982 families in their efforts to adopt a child.” Prospective adoptive parents need not stress any longer over how they will come up with the fees to “bring home” their new child. They can turn to AdoptTogether to secure funds donated by people like you and me, thanks to the organization’s foundersfolks like “iconoclast” Hollywood pastor Erwin McManus, “a best selling [sic] author,” and supermodel Jessica Stam, “one of the top earning supermodels in the world.”

Many adoptees, including me, feel crowdfunding to adopt a child is an abhorrent practice. Prospective adoptive parents put up websites and post videos of their “adoption journeys” in an effort to tug at our collective heartstrings, enticing us to donate so that they get the child they always wantedor the child they MUST save from what they view as either economic or spiritual tragedy. And now AdoptTogether has raised millions of dollars to assist these wannabe parents.

How far could those millions go in addressing the circumstances that result in children being made available for adoption in the first place? Wouldn’t that money be better spent assisting people who are truly in need rather than helping fulfill the fantasies of Americans who desire to build families or save souls by adopting other people’s kids? According to Amanda Transue-Woolston, social worker and founder of Lost Daughters:
One adoption fee could vaccinate tens of thousands of children or fund an entire medical center for a village. The average cost to adopt a newborn from a struggling parent could pay the TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] allowance of a family of four for three years.
And as Kevin Haebeom Vollmers, founder of Land of Gazillion Adoptees, writes in an article titled “Top Seven Reasons Why Adoption Fundraisers Are Problematic:”
What about the mothers, father, grandparents, and other extended family members who lose their children? What about the birth parents/first parents who are forced to relinquish rights to their children because of social, financial, and familial pressures? What about the parents who have their children stolen from them for international adoption?
I believe that the hearts of many of those who would support AdoptTogether are in the right place. They want to do good in the world. They want to help children in need. But I also believe that we can do much better for children in need than raising funds to separate them from their own families, countries, and cultures.

In response to World Adoption Day, I would like to offer a practical alternative for those who wish to help children in need but feel, as I do, that adoption fundraisers and crowdfunding are not the way to do so. I have compiled a list of organizations that, to the best of my knowledge, support family preservation. Some of them do this by working directly with women, children, and families in crisis. Others do this by addressing the root causes of much of the separation of children from their families that occurs in our world—things such as poverty, lack of health resources, shaming of unwed mothers, etc. In my opinion, every effort should be made to keep a child with his/her biological family, and adoption should always be a last resort. Today, on Giving Tuesday, please consider supporting an organization that works to provide the help that is truly needed to keep families together.

Remember to always do your own research before donating to any charitable organization. Neither Lost Daughters nor Karen Pickell, the author of this post, officially endorses any organization listed here. This list is provided only as a reference. (If you feel an organization should be either added to or removed from this list, please send a note to karen@thelostdaugters.com.)

Organizations Supporting Family Preservation

(updated 11/09/2015)


ACT: Against Child Trafficking – advocacy for children’s rights, reunites trafficked people with their original families

Friends-International – assisting marginalized children and youth

Hope & Homes for Children – working to eliminate need for orphanages through family preservation & reunification, foster care, and in-country adoption

Hope for Children – assisting disadvantaged children in meeting needs

International Child Campaign – children’s rights, welfare, and education

Kiva – connecting people through lending to alleviate poverty

Partners in Health – providing modern health care to the poor

Project Concern International (PCI) – women’s empowerment, poverty, vulnerable children

Replace – positive alternatives to orphanages

Save the Children – poverty, hunger, illiteracy, disease, children’s rights

SOS Children’s Villages – supports family preservation, provides permanent homes in native countries for children who cannot live with biological family

UNICEF – protecting children’s rights, meeting children’s basic needs, expanding children’s opportunities to meet their full potential

Uniting for Children – raising awareness of best practices for helping orphaned and vulnerable children

Women for Women International – offers support, tools, and training to help women move from crisis and poverty to stability and economic self-sufficiency


The Bridge (Stichting De Brug) – rebuilding villages

Children in Families – supports kinship care, foster care, and local adoption for vulnerable children

M’lup Russey Organization – supports, nurtures, and strengthens families in communities so that they are able to care for their children

Mother’s Heart – assisting women during and after unplanned pregnancies

Riverkids – Helping Cambodian children in danger of child abuse and trafficking


Bring Love In – supporting vulnerable families, providing homes in Ethiopia for orphaned children

Roots in Ethiopia – job creation and education in southern Ethiopia

Selamta Family Project – uniting orphaned children with marginalized women to create strong, lasting family units


Project Somos – providing temporary housing, education, and training for impoverished single mothers and their children


Haitian Families First – providing resources to help vulnerable Haitian children remain with their families rather than being placed in orphanges or adopted out of country


Korean Unwed Mothers Families’ Association (KUMFA) – advocates for rights of unwed pregnant women, unwed mothers and their children

Mindle Mothers – advocates for unwed mothers and their children


Global Orphan Prevention – family preservation and reunification, school building

Welcome to My Yard – assistance for street children

Wonder Works – skills and business training for women


Abide Family Center – promotes family preservation through support and education of adult family members and childcare services

Alternative Care for Children in Uganda – strengthening families, reunification, and Alternative Care Framework for vulnerable children

Child’s i Foundation – reunites children with their families or finds them homes in Uganda

Reunite Uganda – restores Ugandan children to their families

Thrive Uganda – works to keep families together, reunify children with their families, and find foster care in Uganda for children in need


MomsRising – advocating on policy issues that affect women, mothers, and families

Safe Families for Children – provides safe alternative to child welfare custody for vulnerable children and resources to support families in distress

Saving Our Sisters (SOS) – grass roots network helping vulnerable pregnant women find resources they need to be able to parent

Strong Families – advocacy in support of all families, especially young families and other families that are typically marginalized in the U.S.


California Latinas for Reproductive Justice – advocacy for Latinas, including the Justice for Young Families initiative

Homeless Prenatal Program (HPP) – strives to break the cycle of childhood poverty via providing prenatal & parenting education and support as well as services to support stabilizing families


Foundation for Sustainable Families – education and support resources for strong families, children, and communities

New Life Center for Family Preservation – serving homeless pregnant women and teens

Our Mother’s Home of Southwest Florida – housing for teen mothers and their babies (particularly teens from foster care or who have been victims of human trafficking), supports young mothers in learning life skills and completing their education


Second Chance Homes – provides safe, family-like living situations for young mothers and their children, as well as some pregnant teens


ICAH: Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health – sexuality education, support for teen pregnancy and parenting


St. Francis Community Services – intervention to prevent children being removed from parents, reunification of children with birth parents, foster care, adoption from foster care


MotherWoman – supports and empowers mothers

New Jersey

Moms Helping Moms Foundation – helps families with children three years old and younger access essential baby supplies and support

New York

Momma’s House – provides housing to young mothers and their children for up to two years, supports mothers with education and employment goals to help them become self-sufficient


Bridge of Hope – 12-24 month mentoring program for single mothers and children facing homelessness

Karen Pickell was born and adopted in Ohio in the late 1960s. She reunited with her birth mother in 2005 and with her birth father in 2007. Her husband is an adoptive father of two children, now grown, from his first marriage, one of whom was adopted from Korea. Karen and her husband live in Florida with their two biological children. Karen holds a Master of Arts in Professional Writing; she has published poems, essays, and stories, and is currently working on a memoir. She previously served on the board of directors of the Georgia Writers Association, as editor for the Georgia Poetry Society, and as associate editor of the literary journal Flycatcher. She recently founded Adoptee Reading Resource, and she blogs about writing, adoption, and other topics at www.karenpickell.com.