Supposedly there’s this thing going around the interwebs called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Very few people know about it, of course. Only the entire country or so. After the ALS Association received more millions in donations this year than ever before (which is really awesome) it got me thinking about what other Internet campaigns might take hold next and bring awareness and much needed funds to desperately-worthy causes.
And then it hit me…
I give you the brand new Adoption Tickle-Me Challenge.
Before I get into the fine details of the Challenge, a little background. I did not just pick this cause at random. As an adoptive father, adoption is especially near and dear to me. But just as many who donated to ALS research during the Ice Bucket Challenge are (I would assume) not directly impacted by ALS, I’d strongly recommend that people think about what their financial support of adoption would mean for our culture. According to the CDC, nearly 11 percent of women in the U.S. have an impaired ability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term and about 6 percent of all married couples in the U.S. (about 20 million) are infertile. Add to that the staggering amount of unplanned pregnancies that are annually terminated when young women and men feel they have no tangible alternatives (because let’s be real; no matter where you stand on choice, no one is a fan of abortion) and this is a cause worth supporting!
But how can you help? One practical way is to donate to adoption grant organizations so that prospective adoptive couples and individuals can avoid some of the CRUSHING HIGH FEES! When my wife and I adopted our daughter, the fees were $20,000. Today, they are close to $30,000. It’s ridiculous and, in my opinion, entirely contrary to the promotion of adoption for the fees to be so high (and continuing to go up). A dozen years ago, a woman named Becky Fawcett, along with her husband Kipp, went through a lengthy bout of infertility treatment that cost them over $80,000. When they eventually adopted their first child, their hearts broke as they realized many are simply not able to afford the high out-of-pocket fees, as they were able to do. In 2007, they founded HelpUsAdopt.org, an adoption grant organization whose mission statement is: “Overcoming the Financial Obstacles of Adoption to Build Forever Families.” To date, HelpUsAdopt has helped form 107 families by awarding $920,000 in total adoption grants. Becky and Kipp are amazing people, and having met Becky personally, I can testify to her enormous heart in wanting to be able to provide large grants to all who come asking. Sadly though, there’s only so much money to go around right now.
So here’s the Challenge!…
Make a donation (of any size) to HelpUsAdopt OR tickle a child. (And hey, no one’s stopping you from doing both). The former will help men and women afford the high costs of adopting a child and the latter will make a kid ohh so happy. Plus, there are all sorts of health benefits to laughter. As we learned from Patch Adams, “Laughter enhances the blood flow to the body’s extremities, improves cardiovascular function, releases endorphins and other natural mood-elevating and pain-killing chemicals, improves the transfer of oxygen and nutrients to internal organs, boosts the immune system, and helps the body fight off disease and cancer cells, as well as viral, bacterial and other infections.”
Both of these Challenge options are beneficial and nothing gets wasted. Win-win!
A few ground rules, should you choose to go the tickle route. 1) The child should be your child (biological, adopted, foster, or PLC). 2) If not your child, then the child of a consenting adult friend or relative. 3) Absolutely no creepy weirdo tickle attempts on kids you don’t know or with whom you don’t already have a healthy, law-abiding, pre-existing relationship. 4) If you were disappointed by rule #3, please seek immediate help.
Since I am the supreme founder of the Adoption Tickle-Me Challenge, I’ll go first:
Alan Atchison is the Co-Editor of The Rogue. He is an Online Editor at the Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is also pursuing a Masters of Liberal Arts in Creative Writing. He is the author of the forthcoming novel, Hitting for the Cycle, a baseball-infused story about a couple’s journey toward parenthood amidst infertility. He lives with his wife and daughter in Philadelphia, PA.