Hopeland, a nonprofit organization finding and promoting new solutions so that every child has a safe, loving home, and The Gladney Center for Adoption, which has been creating bright futures through adoption for more than 130 years, partnered this year to activate our supporters for National Adoption Month.
This has been an incredibly difficult year for many when families across the country and the world have been pushed to the brink by events they couldn’t have predicted. This is a vital time to focus on those working to provide every child with a permanent, nurturing family.
It has never been more important for organizations focussed on the welfare of children to work together so that children in our country and across the world have the opportunity that they deserve to thrive. Families across the world have faced strains they never thought they would face: questions about how they can pay rent, buy clothes, or put food on the table. Although it has been reported that children are less directly affected by the COVID disease, they still suffer significantly from the social and economic impact of the pandemic. This has put too many children in a situation they never should have to face and is just one of the reasons we are glad to be working together this year.
In the United States alone, there are around 120,000 children waiting to be adopted who are waiting for the chance to know their forever family. The average age of a child in foster care waiting to be adopted is seven, but 21 percent of these children are teenagers who face a harder time finding a new home. Children who age out of foster care without being adopted face a wide range of negative outcomes in adulthood. They are disproportionately likely to end up facing homelessness, unemployment, and incarceration. Only around 3 percent of children who age out of foster care will ever achieve a four-year college degree. This is a problem that is only going to worsen as a college degree becomes more and more important. For this reason, Hopeland is working with young people at risk of aging out of foster to care to help them get the skills they need to thrive in the future.
Around the world, the issue is even more stark. There are 25 million children already separated from their parents living in orphanages, on the streets, living as refugees, or living at risk of trafficking. Just as alarmingly, there are 385 million more children at risk of the same fate because they live in extreme poverty. Hopeland and our partners, like Gladney, are working to change these numbers and fight for young children globally—many of whom do not have a voice.
Our work together benefits from the crossover in our efforts and is aimed at increasing awareness of the many ways a child can know the protection that a family provides.
The significant value of adoption as part of the continuum of care for children is recognized by Hopeland. There are many ways that a child can receive the love and caring support of a family. Hopeland creates and supports initiatives that prevent family separation, reunify families where appropriate, and works to mobilize an army of American families who can support families at risk of separation.
We do all this with our four values in mind—family, collaboration, integrity, and disruption. With everything we do, family is first and we’re always happy to work with others who share our values and desire to disrupt centuries-old practices and ways of doing things that too often hurt, not help. For these reasons, and more, we are pleased to be working with Gladney whose mission is supported by a belief that every child deserves a loving and caring family.
Hopeland was founded by Deborra-lee Furness, an internationally acclaimed actress and passionate advocate for vulnerable and abandoned children. Her humanitarian work for children is a driving force in her life. She is Patron of The Lighthouse Foundation for displaced children in Melbourne, Australia; a Global Ambassador for World Vision; Patron of the Bone Marrow Donor Institute for Children with Leukemia; and Patron of International Adoption Families of Queensland.
Deborra-lee previously founded National Adoption Awareness Week (NAAW) and Adopt Change in Australia, focusing on improving adoption programs, procedures, and legislation raising awareness and understanding of the issues of vulnerable children. In 2014, NAAW achieved the goal of new legislation being passed by the Australian government to greatly improve procedures surrounding adoption.
For her advocacy work, she has been honored by The Joint Council USA and, in 2013, was given the prestigious award of Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in Washington DC. Harlem Village Academies honored Deborra-lee and her husband Hugh for their philanthropy work in 2012.
She was presented with the 2014 International Humanitarian Award in Utah by Mentors International. Also in 2015, Deborra-lee was honored in Washington as Advocate of the Year. And was named NSW Australian of the year, 2015.
Deborra-lee received the 2017 United Nations Women for Peace Leadership Award, in 2018 the Tribeca Film Festival Disruptors Award, and, most recently, the EPIQ Women’s Advocacy Award. Deborra-lee is also a regular mainstage speaker at Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, New York City.
Deborra-lee and her husband Hugh adopted their two children, in the video below she tells us that “[her] journey started out in Australia, when my husband and I went to adopt […] and found it incredibly hard to get through the system.”
You can learn more about Deborra-lee’s moving story and how it led her to take action to on this important issue here:
Her family’s story led Deborra-lee to fight for every child around the world to have a permanent home and a loving family. Her work includes addressing the United Nations General Assembly on World Children’s Day and visiting children around the world who need the support of a caring household. “I did not set out to be an activist”, she tells us, “I did not set out to do anything, it was a knee-jerk reaction to me that spoke to an injustice.”
The fact that every child born in this world does not have a safe, loving family is the injustice that Hopeland and Gladney’s partnership aims to tackle. Deborra-lee’s story tells us what we all already know—adoption rocks! Adoption is a powerful force that changes lives for the better—but it also rocks the foundation of your home and requires preparation, training, and support for a lifetime. It is vital that those working in advocacy and facilitation come together so that successful, long-term goals are achieved for everyone.
Inspired by Deborra-lee’s leadership Hopeland has also taken a lead in promoting the many ways in which a child can find their forever family. This includes partnering with Paramount Pictures to promote awareness of issues related to foster care, adoption, and reunification in the USA following the release of their movie, Instant Family. The movie was directed by Sean Anders and stars Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne. It was inspired by the true story of Sean and his wife Beth’s journey of adopting three children and the trials and joys that came with it.
Hopeland has also worked with Adoption Share whose program ‘Family Match’ seeks to reduce the friction between a child being placed for adoption and that child finding their permanent, loving home as part of our commitment to supporting all forms of support for children without families.
We believe that adoption will remain an integral part of the continuum of care for children who are separated from their parents or at risk of separation. Family strengthening and other preventative measures are of course vital to ensuring every child has a safe, loving family and where appropriate family reunification is also a vital tool in this effort. Nonetheless, adoption is a wonderful way to provide care to vulnerable children and Hopeland is always keen to promote this during National Adoption Month and year round.
We hope you will remember Deborra-lee’s inspiration and the importance of her message that every child should be able to find a permanent, safe, and loving home. In her video, she tells us that we all “can relate to what it feels like to be alone, to be vulnerable,” and “knowing what that feels like has to give you an understanding of what it would be for a child that has no one here to tell them that they know they are precious.”
It is a wonderful message that all of us, no matter who we are, can make a difference in a child’s life. For these children who are waiting and need to know the love of forever families that Hopeland and Gladney are working with together, we hope you can think about how you can help in your community and do whatever you can to promote family.