Jan 152015

I’m going to jump into a difficult subject today.    It has to do with adoption and what happens after the kids get home.   But first, I need to make a disclaimer that comes with a couple of points:

  1. Not every child who is adopted deals with trauma issues.   Many of them live fully adjusted, totally normal lives (if you can even define normal) and don’t carry any emotional baggage from being orphaned and adopted.   You don’t hear about them, precisely because they are “normal.”
  2. Every child who goes through the disruption in their life that comes with being orphaned and adopted has the potential of being affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  
  3. So every adoptive parent should go into adopting knowing that they might have to deal with these type of issues and should be prepared for the possibility.

I’ve had discussions with numerous people over the years where the topic has come up that there are no guarantees with biological children and there are no guarantees with adopted children.    Those who are not in the adoption “world” seem to think that means that adopting isn’t that much more of a risk of “hard parenting.”

That’s not exactly true.   Yes, it is true that there are no guarantees, but there are also probabilities.  And the probability is higher that a child who goes through the first years of their life and faces one or more of the following is more likely to have emotional baggage to deal with:

  • Is not raised by their biological parents and consistently cared for during the first 5 years of their life.
  • Has a constant turnover of the people who are caring for them – and can’t build an emotional and trust bond with one person.
  • Witnesses or experiences a traumatic event – the  death of someone close, abuse, natural disaster…….
  • Has consistent and ongoing situations where they have emotional or physical needs and they need someone and there is no one there to be their “go to” person.

When you look at it, any one or more of those could fit the experiences of almost every orphan in the world.    That tells me two things:

  • There is a lot of work that needs to be done to improve the care of vulnerable children while they are in “transition.”    That means the time between when they are with their birth family until the time when they are with their new family.
  • The adoptive parents and those who care about them need to be much more aware and much more supportive of the reality that every single adopted child has the potential for carrying very difficult experiences that leave scars on them.

So, with that being said, I’m going to step down from the podium and let a couple of other writers talk about adoption, trauma and what it means.    I would encourage you to read the links below and if you want to talk about them, either message me (see the spot on the right side?) or Facebook me or carrier pigeon or whatever way you want to get in touch.




Vulnerable children.

Vulnerable parents.

If you are there, know you are not alone.

If you know one, support them.   Encourage them.

If you are feeling God calling you to become one, be faithful.


Nov 132014

I’ve had a number of people ask me,  “What is this Vulnerable Project” thing you’re working on?  

So I thought I’d take a few minutes and restate what our goals are with The Vulnerable Project and how we hope to accomplish them.

The 30,000 ft. goals (in other words, the really big, broad stroke goals):

  • The reduction in the number of poverty orphans in the world.    Poverty orphans are children who are given up for adoption strictly because their parents who want to care for them aren’t able to due to extreme poverty.
  • Helping vulnerable families make it through a crisis intact.   That crisis could take a variety of forms but the common thread is that it is something that, with some help, they could make it through with the family intact.    Examples – a serious medical condition, death of a spouse and loss of income, a natural disaster that wipes out housing, just to name a few…….

Moving down to ground level, what do these God sized goals look like?

  • What we are not going to do: We are not going to attempt to put projects in place on the ground that will actually do the work that is going to happen to achieve those two goals.    We don’t know the dynamics, we don’t know the language (probably), we don’t know the culture.
  • What we are going to do:   We are going to find existing organizations that are already doing the work and support them.   Organizations that are working on the main goals of The Vulnerable Project already exist in almost every country that has vulnerable children and families.   We’re going to find them and support them to help them do what they do better.

What does that mean on a day to day basis?

  • Project based support – All of the work we do will be project based.   That means it will have a measureable, trackable, finite goal to it.    Examples – a new inverter, a new piece of medical equipment, Ultrasound machine from electro-medical.comnew textbooks, airfare to bring professionals in for staff training. 
  • Education and awareness – through a variety of writing and speaking opportunities, we’ll work to raise the awareness of the issues that vulnerable children and families face.   If you’d like to have someone speak to your group or do a guest post on a blog or something else to help spread awareness of these answers to the orphan crisis, e-mail me at tom@thevulnerableproject.org.
  • Consulting services – if an organization that is working on behalf of vulnerable children and their families would like assistance in some way with their marketing, social media, fundraising and/or donor communications, they can apply for a grant to get that assistance. 

How do we propose to fund The Vulnerable Project?

  • We are not going to seek 501©3 status.   We don’t want to be a charity.    Our goal is to be a business that is devoted to doing social good by means of caring for the vulnerable.  We want to work towards being financially self sustaining so we are generating opportunities and not taking donations.
  • So how are you going to fund The Vulnerable Project?   There’s three main ways we are planning on funding The Vulnerable Project:
    • Online store sales – whether it’s goods that are created in the third world and create jobs there or whether they are other products that we can sell to generate funds, our goal is to make a substantial amount of the income needed to fund The Vulnerable Project through online store sales.   Stay tuned to http://thevulnerableproject.org/store/ for more on that.cup of coffee
    • Speaking, consulting and writing opportunities.   If you know an organization that would like to have someone talk about the issues of the vulnerable children and families (or anything else related to the orphan crisis let me know.
    • Book sales –  I’m currently working on Book #1 of a series of books – the series is called “Ten Things About Adoption.”    The goal is to increase knowledge and support of adopted children and their families and make the process and the realities of adoption smoother, more understood and less stressful.

Want to help?   A couple of ways you can help:

  • Keep an eye on the store and as we get more goods on there, buy some stuff and spread the word about it.
  • If you know anyone who would be interested in us selling their goods online, let me know by e-mailing me at tom@thevulnerableproject.org
  • Know anyone who wants someone to come talk to their group or write a guest post for their blog or website?  Let me know.
  • As the books get completed and put up for sale, buy one and tell your friends and family.  Trust me, I’ll make it obvious when they are ready.

Thank you for reading this far.   Thank you for caring about the children of the world.   I’m looking forward to seeing what God does with this!


Nov 062014

November is a month devoted to awareness of the cause of the orphan.    There are many things happening – many churches are doing special services.    Saturday and Sunday, I’m speaking at two different events talking about how a church, how your church can support and encourage adoptive parents who have their kids home.

As part of that, and also as part of the blog series that I did on my personal blog at http://tomvanderwell.net, I wrote a handful of articles about the church and it’s relation to and impact on the orphan crisis.

DSC01262If you want to read them, here they are:

Why it’s important that the church “do something:”   http://tomvanderwell.net/2014/11/the-church-and-its-response-to-the-orphan-crisis/

The first rule in orphan care:  http://tomvanderwell.net/2014/11/first-rule-about-church-and-the-orphan-crisis/

Take care of your own?  http://tomvanderwell.net/2014/11/church-and-the-orphan-crisistake-care-of-yourself/

Take the battle upstream – orphan prevention: http://tomvanderwell.net/2014/11/orphan-prevention-akabattle-the-problem-upstream/

It’s not for fun, it’s a calling: http://tomvanderwell.net/2014/11/support-and-encourage-the-called/

Social Justice – it’s not just for college kids anymore: http://tomvanderwell.net/2014/11/social-justicethe-locust-effect/

I’d be grateful if you’d take a few minutes, maybe one a day for the next week?   And read through them and if you find that they resonate with your feelings or insights into the orphan crisis, share them with others?

Thanks in advance,