Advocacy and Social Media: What’s not to “like”?

November 17, 2014 Advocacy, Sheryl, thalassemia 1 Comments

Ah, social media. Sometimes I don’t know whether to love it or loath it. But it’s here, and most of use it. 

Think about it: how many times have you “liked” a post? How many times have you made a comment? Or even “shared” something you saw that struck you as funny, important or thought-provoking?

It’s so quick these days. With a click of a button, or a two-thumbed type on the keyboard of your phone, you can like, comment, or share virtually anything. In about 5 seconds or less.

What if that 5 seconds could make a lifetime of difference for a child? An orphan. A precious being that needs a forever family. That might sound a bit dramatic, but…it’s very much a reality that has played out time and time again through social media. Someone shares some information about a child in need of a forever family, and the post gets passed along once, twice…and before you know it, a family is falling in love with a child on the other side of the world. Sound like a stretch? Maybe a little too optimistic? 

Where do you think families who are interested in adoption go to learn about their options? Yes, they ask around and talk to families who have adopted, but eventually, they turn to the web to do their homework. And many of these families use social media to connect with adoption groups and networks. And they can’t help but see the posts for children who need families.

The crazy thing is you just never know who’s thinking about adopting. Young couples who haven’t been able to have biological children. Couples with kids who have always wanted to adopt and are finally getting around to it. People who, later in life, realize they want to do more with their time and resources. Single people who may not be on the path to marriage, but feel drawn to being a parent, despite the “social norms.”

And these people are connected via social media. They can’t help but be tuned into adoption-related content – blogs, social media posts, news feeds, etc. Do you think these folks read profiles of waiting children? Speaking from experience, I guarantee it.

That’s why I want you to think differently about the term “advocacy.” It’s not something reserved for the adoption fanatics – the frontliners with deep connections at agencies near and far. It’s not something you need to be certified and trained to do. It’s not an activity that requires you to persuade anyone to do anything. These days, advocating for a child who needs a home is as simple as sharing a post with your social network. You never know who’s going to repost a child’s profile and send their information out to hundreds more people. 

The fact is we live in an age when it is easier than ever to spread the news about children who wait. It’s simply a matter of being willing to share.

NHBO has made a deliberate effort over the past several months to highlight waiting children. Unfortunately, there is no shortage. You may think, like I have been tempted to at times, that the need is too big for me to do anything that might even make a dent in the orphan crisis. There are, after all 147 million of them (that we know of), and only a small percentage of people willing to adopt. How can you, I, we make a difference? 

There are actually many ways, but perhaps the easiest way is easier than you think. 

First, just consider “liking” NHBO facebook page. This will give you constant exposure to so many little ones who wait, specifically those in the special needs program in China. Their stories. Their special needs. Their faces

Second, would you then consider sharing, on your wall, these posts of children who need forever families? Take a scroll through your friends list. How many do you have? What if that one child, and their dire need for hope, could be seen by hundreds or thousands more people, just because you took 1 second to share. 

You may think “None of my friends are even interested in adoption. Why would I bother?” I can tell you one thing I’ve learned in our adoption process is that you never know what God is up to behind the scenes. You never know how He is stirring in the hearts of people you know and love. You. Just. Don’t. Know. I promise.

If you need some further evidence that social media can play a big role in advocacy, here are some true-to-life stories of little ones whose faces came across a computer screen in some form or fashion via social media, stopped someone dead in their tracks, and then went on to become their sons and daughters.

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Devon writes:

IMG_0174In January of this year, we had two emails from our adoption agency waiting in our inbox on a
Monday morning. The first email informed us that our Home Study was complete. The second was a list of the latest children available from our agency’s partnership orphanages. One of the boys on the list, who is now our son, Kai, was diagnosed with mild Thalassemia and was designated as Special Focus. I had never heard of the Special Focus list until we received Kai’s file, and up until this point thought the only way it was possible adopt two children simultaneously from China was to adopt twins or siblings. We received PA for Kai, and due to what we learned about the Special Focus list, my husband and I decided we would be open to adopting two children if we felt like that was God’s plan.

In March, I read a post on ‘No Hands But Ours’ (NHBO) by an adoptive mom of two children with Thalassemia about orphans diagnosed with Thalassemia in China and the bleak outlook of survival for these children.  At the end of the post, was a picture of an adorable little boy, ‘Micah’, with Thalassemia who immediately stole my heart. But because this little boy was listed with another agency and was so young and cute, I just ‘knew’ he would probably be matched with a family soon. 

After a few days of going back to the NHBO website several times to look at his picture, I showed the post to my husband. After spending some time praying, we felt a strong pull to pursue him and decided to ask our agency to contact the agency who had his file to see if they would release him.

IMG_0401Over a week passed and our agency still had not heard back from his agency. I was starting to get a little discouraged. Then I saw his picture on the ‘China Waiting Child Advocacy’ Facebook page and read that he was still waiting for a family! I immediately contacted the mom who was advocating for him. Through her I ‘met’ some other Thalassemia moms who were also advocating for ‘Micah’. Finally, through an amazing set of circumstances (including hard work by our agency and other adoptive moms) that could only have been God-ordained, he was released to our agency and we immediately submitted our LOI.

Thanks to some amazing adoptive mothers who work diligently to find homes for children like our son, Kaleb, he has been home with us for two months now. We can’t imagine life without him (and Kai!) and are very thankful that God worked through so many avenues, to include social media, to ensure His plans were fulfilled.

 

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Brooke writes:

Wilsons at CommunionWe had been home 4 months from China with our 6th and 7th children when we decided that we would actively start our next adoption. A little girl’s picture and brief description came through an agency email, and we wanted to look into pursuing her right away.

 

She had a bit of a scary diagnosis, but we just couldn’t get her out of our hearts. We took her picture and asked in the Facebook groups if anyone knew of her, could anyone offer more information, and we were shocked when multiple people came forward and said they prayed for her last summer Annie High Fivewhen she was with another agency.Some had met her! Some connected me with a blog written about her with Love Without Boundaries. They knew of her scary diagnosis, and knew it would make her journey to adoption more difficult. They prayed a family would come forward despite that diagnosis. It was the final confirmation we needed, and we submitted our application for her the next day.

 

DSC_8661Additionally, we knew that if just the right older girl became available, if her profile crossed our paths during our journey, we would consider her too. We had a 10 year old daughter, and didn’t feel like we could adopt someone too much older than her, but we were willing to look. And then we saw her. 10 years old, and I felt like I was staring at the sister of the boy we had adopted just 4 months before. Uncanny. She was listed with No Hands But Ours, by an adoptive mom that I chat with often. We emailed the listing agency, requested her file, had it transferred to our agency, and submitted our application for her. These girls, these beautiful sweet girls, are coming home because a team of people, advocates, other mothers, volunteers, who came forward when they saw a need. Their willingness to write up a profile, answer questions late at night, and help others, is literally changing people’s lives. 

My Anna Claire, and my Hadleigh are proof of it.

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So, the need is too great you say? Exactly. 

None of your friends are interested? Maybe you’re right. But maybe not.

No one will adopt because I “liked” or shared”. But what if they do?

What if your willingness to share connected a loving family to a little one halfway around the world? Wouldn’t it be worth it?

It’s the least we can do for the least of these.

Sheryl



One response to “Advocacy and Social Media: What’s not to “like”?”

  1. Rebecca says:

    I’ve had two friends from high school that have adopted after watching us go through the process. It’s completely true – you just never know who’s heart will be moved to adopt! Like and Share!!! Not everyone can adopt but everyone can help advocate!

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