Today we're excited to launch the Promptly Journals x The Archibald Project Adoption Journal! We teamed up with The Archibald Project on this very special collab to help support a cause we care deeply about. Founded by wife and husband duo Whitney and Nick Runyon (pictured above with their three adorable children), The Archibald Project is an orphan care advocacy organization that uses storytelling to build community, inspire people to take action, and to advocate and educate on orphan care and the orphan crisis worldwide.
We sat down with Whitney and Nick to learn more about The Archibald Project and the details of their own amazing adoption journey. Read more about their incredible and inspiring story below!
A portion of the proceeds from our new Adoption Journal collab will go straight to The Archibald Project
What inspired you to start The Archibald Project and what is your mission?
WHITNEY: The mission of The Archibald Project, or TAP, as we call it (because let’s be honest, The Archibald Project can be a mouthful), is to basically end the global orphan crisis. It’s a huge mission, impossible many would say, but we truly believe that our children’s generation could see a world where all children are loved and cared for in a family style environment. Obviously more people need to get involved for this to happen, and how do you get people involved? You tell a story, you start a movement, and you inspire. And that’s what TAP is doing.
Tell us about your own adoption journey by answering the following prompts from our Adoption Journal:
Why did you choose to adopt?
We didn’t actually seek out adoption. We are in the adoption world and have many relationships with other orphan care related organizations so one day we got an email about documenting an adoption and in that same email we were asked to pray for a group of three siblings that they would find a family and that their family would also be on that same trip to meet and bond.
Nick and I sat down and fearfully asked one another, “Are we supposed to be their family?” Everything in us said no. We couldn’t go from zero to three, we couldn’t fundraise for an international adoption AND our salaries, we only had one car, our house wasn’t big enough, and our list went on and on.
But a few days later we were sitting in a Sunday school class my dad was leading and he was talking about the verse where Jesus says, "Whatever you do for someone in need you do it for me." And I felt like the Holy Spirit was there saying, “This is your answer.” And it scared me more than anything in the world. Nick took a little more time, and after 9 weeks of seeking counsel, praying a lot, talking, fighting, crying, and alllllll the things, we said yes to adopting our three children. I’ve blogged a little about the story on my website, whitrunyon.com/adoption, and plan to share more soon. You can also read more about our "why" on my personal Instagram, @whitrunyon, as I’m constantly sharing thoughts and struggles there :)
How long have you been trying to adopt your children?
Almost a year! We officially started our adoption in September 2017. We said yes to our children in late August, hopped on a plane, spent 8 days getting to know them, and then came home and started the paperwork (because our Congo is not Hague we were allowed to know our children going into the adoption process).
After we received their guardianship documentation we decided that being in a family as soon as possible was the best decision for our aging children, and because we can work from anywhere there is internet we decided to move to the Republic of Congo and live with our kids until their paperwork is finalized. We have been in the Congo since May and our paperwork seems to be stuck. It’s a common story with international adoption and I have a lot more grace for people having now walked through this agonizing wait.
Where were you when you first met? How did you feel when you first saw your children?
I love the story of when we first met. In the fall of 2015 we were documenting a beautiful adoption in the Republic of the Congo and fell in love with the hosting organization because of their holistic approach to orphan care and desire for family preservation. While we were at the babies home on the very first day two little tubby twins stole my heart. I filled my phone with their faces, something I no longer allow or recommend (taking pictures of vulnerable children the first day you meet them), and said to myself, "I could totally be their mom." But I knew my husband wasn’t in the same place and, to be honest, they had an older brother and it scared me to adopt an older child, so I put the thought out of my mind.
Now here we are, two and a half years later, and I’m just so thankful that I had that time with my children when they were younger, when they could barely walk. I’m so thankful that I got to hold them, if only for a few days, and to pick them up when they were crying. And I’m so thankful I have photos and videos of us together from that trip.
Describe the love you feel for your children?
I’ve been learning a lot about love and at this point in my life, to me, love means commitment and honor. I am committed to my children. I am and will continue to sacrifice for them and do everything I can to raise them well. But I’ll be honest, in adoption, you instantly become family with a stranger, or in our case three strangers, and this can be really hard. There is a lot of learning and adapting and growing involved, and it’s okay to allow your feelings to grow. Something that overwhelmed us in the beginning is fear that feelings wouldn’t ever grow. But then we stopped, took a breath, and reminded ourselves of truth and that in fact, love grows.
What advice would you offer other couples and individuals who are considering adoption?
I would say: research, research, research! Sadly, there is SO much corruption and child trafficking involved in international adoption. We have a lot of resources on our website for helping to ensure that your adoption is ethical—you can find that info here. But my biggest suggestion for adoptive parents is to do a third party investigation on your agency and the babies home/child you are matched with. For instance, look on Facebook for people who live in the city or town where your child is living and ask them to drop by the group home, or ask if they know anything about the group home, or if they know an investigator you can hire to dig around.
Ask your agency how they ensure that the organizations they work with are only adopting children who cannot be resettled with biological family and if their answer is, ‘Because the country is Hague’ or ‘trust us,' I would suggest looking for another agency. Agencies who are working in international adoption need proof that they are only working within country organizations who work hard to keep vulnerable families together. If this is not happening there is a high chance that someone is making money off finding children for international adoption. This is a bigger question though so I would love to invite you all over to our website to learn more!
For those wanting to help but perhaps not ready to adopt or foster themselves, what are other ways to get involved and make a difference?
Great question! There are so many ways to get involved!
1. SHARE OUR STORIES
First, sharing our stories is huge because you never know who might see it and decide to directly get involved via foster care, adoption, or family preservation. There are many organizations across the U.S. who support biological families who have had their children placed in foster care. Loving on these families is a huge need to help reduce our nation’s foster care crisis. And it is a crisis. There are over 415,000 children right now in our system. That just isn’t right.
Another great way is by finding an ethical organization—we have many that we’ve researched and vetted on our website, and no we do not make money off of them—and support their holistic efforts! Many organizations around the world are working towards ending the crisis in their area but they need a lot of financial help. Donating is HUGE! And of course donating to TAP is always a wonderful help as well!
3. HELP LOCAL FOSTER FAMILIES
You can also search for foster care agencies in your city and call and ask how you can volunteer or help local foster families. Many families are in need of clothing, diapers, date nights, and babysitters. By supporting a foster or adoptive family you are giving them rest and community and helping them march on in directly loving and fighting for their childrens' lives. And as an adoptive mom, help is a huge need, because this is emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausting. Many adoptions and foster placements fail because the parents don’t have enough help.
Your hashtag is #storytellingchangestheworld—
could you share an example of a powerful adoption story that inspired this?
All of them! Haha! At least we hope :) But the very reason we started The Archibald Project is where our motto came from.
In 2011 we documented an adoption of a 7 year old boy with Down Syndrome. We traveled with the dad to Bulgaria and we were so moved by this beautiful example of love and acceptance that is adoption that we shared the photos on Facebook. A few weeks later a total stranger emailed us and said, “Because of your photos, I found my son and we are now adopting a chronically ill 5 year old. If it had not been for your photos we never would have found our son.”
And that’s when we realized that photos and videos could help children find families! We got with a lawyer and formed a 501c-3 nonprofit centered around telling orphan care related stories. But I honestly didn’t think it would last very long. I remember in the beginning thinking, "If we never help another child, this one story was enough because there is a chronically ill child who was set to be moved to a retirement home in a few months (at the age of 5!) who now has the love of a family and a hope and a future! One story changed this little boy’s world forever and his new life will change many more lives and so on and so on. So storytelling really does change the world!
But that was in 2011. Fast forward 7 years and we humbly receive emails and messages often letting us know because of one of our podcasts, videos, or Instagram stories that a family is now directly adopting or fostering, or changing their college major so they can have the knowledge to work in an industry to affect change in the future. Or one of my favorites is when an adult who was adopted contacts us and says, "Thank you for the work you are doing, these stories need to be told!" It’s a hard job, but all the hardship and pain is worth it because we know that the world has less orphans because of The Archibald Project’s storytelling!
You can keep up with our work in global orphan care daily on Instagram: @thearchibaldproject Facebook: facebook.com/
Purchase a TAP collaboration Adoption Journal and a portion of the proceeds will go straight to The Archibald Project