Busy Moms Can Be Advocates, Too

Today I will be leading a panel at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit about how to be an advocate as a busy mom.  I have to say, I’m already feeling inspired by the things that busy moms have done.  Yesterday morning I went to a session on the socio-political aspects of adoption, and I heard the story of McLane Layton, a mom who adopted three children from Easter Europe only to discover that her children did not get citizenship after being adopted.  She started lobbying that adopted children be treated as relatives instead of as immigrants, and in 2000 helped put together the Child Citizenship Act.

I heard the story of another mom who was in the process of adopting 9 siblings from the Philipinnes, only to find out that an error made in the Hague Convention prohibited the adoption on siblings over age 16.  In the sibling set she was trying to adopt, two children were over 16. She contacted her senator and they worked to ratify this point.

I heard the story of Carolyn Tweitmyer, who was in the process of adopting a child with HIV and learned that there was a law requiring a USCIS medical waiver for any child with HIV to be adopted,.  This waiver could take up to nine months to process, as sick children languished in third world conditions without access to care or a family to assist them.  Carolyn advocated to change this law, and children with HIV no longer require this red tape.

Busy moms can do big things.


I’m excited to talk about how to advocate for orphans as a busy mom.  Five of us with very different experiences and passions will talk about how we are advocating in our own way. Some of us have adopted, some have chosen a different path of prevention for orphans.  All of us have been touched by the crisis, and incidentally each of us had our hearts stirred while on a short-term mission trip, seeing the orphan crisis first-hand.  Here is a little about the other presenters:

Kristen Welch writes at her parenting blog, We are THAT family, and offers an honest mixture of humor and inspiration. Her first book, Don’t Make Me Come Up There, a book for busy Moms, was released March 1, 2011. After a life-changing Compassion International trip, Kristen and her family recently launched a non-profit ministry in Kenya, Africa called The Mercy House, with a Compassion Leadership Graduate. The Mercy House is a maternity home for young, pregnant girls. The ministry advocates for the global orphan crisis by aiding and educating in women’s maternal health.
Jodie Howerton is the mother of three children, two biological and one recently adopted from South Africa. . Her church recently launched a massive Orphan Care Initiative that aims to assist in the placement of thousands of orphans around the world and at home, into adoptive homes. She is passionate about adoption and foster care, and deeply concerned about the plight of the world’s street children. As the mom of an HIV+ son, she finds herself directly connected to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and is still learning how to best advocate for her little boy. She also sits on the board of “Until Then,” a non-profit advocacy group working to advocate for street kids around the world.

Megan Terry is  is a stay at home mother to three children through birth and adoption. She fell in love with Africa years ago and adopted a toddler from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2009. She volunteers with Our Family In Africa- a humanitarian organization serving the needs of vulnerable orphans in DRC.  She also travels to area churches and civic groups speaking about Africa’s civil wars and how it relates to Africa’s orphan crisis.   She has taught lessons to area children about what their lives would be like if they lived in the third world and also teaching them practical things that their classes can do to help orphans around the world.  Megan’s passions lie with helping people connect in personal ways to hurting children.  She helps churches and civic groups organize shoe, clothing, mosquito netting and formula drives and connects traveling adoptive families with these supplies to deliver to their children’s orphanages.  Megan and her family organize many fundraisers throughout the year to benefit orphan care initiatives in Africa as well as educate participants about adoption, orphan care, and ways that they, too, can become advocates.  

Kathleen Hamer has been married to her best friend, Dan for almost 34 years. They have 5 children, 3 children they made the old fashioned way and 2 adopted from Kenya almost 7 years ago. Dan and Kathleen found their 13 year old son, Derek living alone on the streets of Kenya when he was 5 years old. God called them to adopt Derek and his younger brother Reggie. This was the genesis of Kathleen’s passion for the forgotten street children of the world.  Kathleen and her family started the non profit Until Then () to bring awareness, action and advocacy for street children around the world. Until Then, partnering with churches and businesses has launched drop in centers for street children in Kenya, as well as developing community development programs that focus on agricultural assistance, family psychosocial support and clean water projects.

These are some of the questions we will be looking at for tomorrow, and for those reading along at home, I would love to hear your answers!

  • What is your specific area of passion?  How was your heart moved in that direction?
  • How do you think being a mom effects the way you view the orphan crisis?  Does it give you more compassion?
  • What are some of the limits to advocacy as a busy mom?  Obviously we can’t all jump on a plane to Africa all the time.  How do you find the space and time amidst the soccer practices and carpool line?
  • How do you involve your own kids in your advocacy?  Have they ever felt put out by the work you do?  How do you strike a balance between giving back without taking away time from your own family?
  • If you have adopted, how does being an adoptive parent play into all of this?  Do you view your role as an adoptive mom as a catalyst in your advocacy?
  • Do you work outside the home (or at home)?  How does the family/work balance play into the ways you would like to advocate.
  • If you could dream big, where do you see yourself in 3 years?
  • What changes are you most passionate about bringing about, and how can you play a part in that in your current lifestage?
  • How might things look differently when your children are older?


Kristen is the mom of four children via birth and adotion, and is a professor of psychology at Vanguard Univesrsity.  She chronicles her daily life at Rage Against the Minivan.