Thursday, June 13, 2013

My response to Dear Abby

My mom is an avid newspaper reader and always checks out the popular Dear Abby column each day.  Tonight she called to read one of the letters sent in and Dear ol' Abby's response.  It's adoption related, and I have to admit, this is one we haven't heard yet.

The letter was from Miss "Ticked Off," who apparently was "increasingly disgusted" by two friends' "continuous pleas for money" to help fund their international adoption of two children.  This adoptive couple had requested donations for a yard sale, had set up an online store to sell coffee, and had had a couple of dinners to help raise funds.  (What do ya know, our family has hosted these exact same fundraisers!)  This reader wanted to know if she was wrong for being so ticked off and annoyed by her friend's repetitive requests. 

As my mom read the letter, I admit, my blood started to boil a bit (especially after the rotten day I had).  But, then she read my Abby's response.  Are you ready?

DEAR TICKED OFF: It appears your "friends" are taking advantage of your generosity. It will continue for only as long as you permit it. Because the requests for help are continuous, are you absolutely sure this couple is really in the middle of the adoption process and not using the money for some other purpose? Before donating anything else, you should find out.
                               -- taken from on 06-13-13

First, "taking advantage of your generosity" is very hurtful.  I am positive that NO adoptive family wants to have to raise funds for their adoption.  It can be a humbling, humiliating, and frustrating process.  When we do muster up the energy and time to host a fund raiser event, we are always worried that 1.) no one will care and no one will show up and 2.) that someone will feel we are imposing on them.  So, when folks actually show up to help, give, and support, we are always blown away.  We feel so grateful that it's hard to put into words.  For Abby to claim that this adoptive family is taking advantage of a friend's generosity is hurtful because I'm sure that's the last thing they want to do and one of the first things they are worried about.  I surely pray that our friends do not think this of us.  If so, please know that we love you and appreciate your support, and it would just break our hearts to think that we had offended you in any way by asking for your support.

Second, "Are you absolutely sure this couple is really in the middle of the adoption process and not using the money for some other purpose?"  Wow!  For having been around so long, Dear Abby sure doesn't know a thing about international adoptions.  This couple is adopting two children; that endeavor could easily cost 35K-45K, depending on the agency and country! That figure alone makes it near impossible to earn the needed amount of funds with just one fundraiser event.  It is very reasonable to think that the couple could need to host several different events to meet their financial goals.  What is unreasonable is that Abby would jump straight to the conclusion that this adoptive couple was unethical and dishonest in their dealings without even knowing them at all.  We know many adoptive families who have held multiple fundraisers; we have supported them when we were able and have never questioned their intentions.  This would be like getting offended that a friend invited us to her child's birthday party year after year.  "Didn't they get enough presents last year?" "What are they doing with all those gifts?"

Something related to this that we should consider:  have you ever thought about what percentage of your charitable donations actually go to directly support the cause you believe in? 
     - If you donate to World Vision, 88 cents per dollar goes directly to support the cause.
     - If you donate to The American Cancer Society, 70 cents per dollar supports the cause.
     - If you donated to the new George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, less than 70 cents went   to actually fund this cause. 

I'm not putting down any of these charities; I am simply making the point that bigger charities like these must have employees.  Therefore, some donation monies inevitably does cover overhead costs. 

However, if you donate to an adoption fund, consider that 100% of your donation goes to support the family's cause.  There is no overhead and no administrative fees.  We're not using your money to fund our dream vacation or buy the latest iphone device (heck, we aren't even going on to the beach this summer, and our phones are like 5 years old with no data plan). If you want the best bang for your buck, giving to an adoption is the way to go!  (Many couples have their giving set up to be tax-deductible too!)

Also, consider this: when you give to Goodwill, or the American Red Cross, or the wonderful charity of your choice, you may not ever get the reward of seeing the effects of your donation.  You know it went "out there" somewhere to support the general cause, but when you donate to an adoption fund, especially of someone you know personally, one day you will have the sweet reward of seeing just what wonderful thing your money did! 

For us, that reward will be a happy, smiling, funny little girl who will most likely light up our family's future holiday dinners and squirm and wiggle in the pews of our home church.  That reward might sit in your Sunday School class one day, and you may even see her get baptized one Sunday.  Your son or daughter might invite her to a play date or a birthday party. You might see her strolling with us around the neighborhood or one day see pictures of her high school graduation streaming across my Facebook page.  What a wonderful thing to be able to be a part of something so real and so sweet and so redemptive.   

I was so honored that my mom emailed a response in to her newspaper to help defend our family and all the fundraising adoptive families out there.

What are your thoughts in this topic?


  1. I'm not adopting and Abby's response offended me! I can't believe she assumed that the couple would be using the money for something other than adoption.

    I have read your blog since you started posting. I am thrilled for you and your husband and I can't wait for you to meet your little girl! I can't imagine how stressful this process is or how much money it costs you or what you've had to sacrifice. I may not have the means to contribute to you financially at this time, but I have prayed for your fundraisers and different steps of your adoption process. At no time have I been offended that you were trying to raise money; I only wished that I could help. Please don't let this get you down as you're doing something amazing in the life of one of God's children! Keep on keeping on!

    1. Thank you for your kinds words and for your prayers. We appreciate them so much!

  2. There are so many "causes" asking for money, but I know of no other cause that totally changes lives like that of adoption. I am disappointed in Abby's response. I think she needs to be educated in just how little hope these kids have without adoption and what a difference family makes. Keep raising the money! Be offensive if you have to for the cause of the child!
    I pick up my little girl in less than 2 weeks. The cost has been tremendously higher than I was originally told. I went into this with no debt and am coming out in debt mainly due to the change in the tax refunds. This girl is special needs and has no future in her country. I pray she will feel the love and come to understand just how precious she is to Christ and those around her.

    1. My husband and I are so excited for you. We can't wait to hear about your gotcha day! Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. I don't know what your moms reply was, but you should send «Dear Abby» this. It is right on the money. I for one continue to pray for your mission.

  4. That is shocking and horrible! Great response Shelly.

  5. Unbelievable !

  6. Apparently "Dear Abby" has a history of being ill-informed and insensitive to adopting families! Check out this:

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