Learn how you can make a difference in a child's life and why love is never wasted
The Archibald Project and The Power of Storytelling
A lot of people have asked how we started The Archibald Project, and honestly it is one of my favorite stories to share:
Nick and I had been married for about two years when I felt a stirring in my spirit that something completely new was headed our way. Nick was an airline pilot at the time, and I was a wedding photographer. At the beginning of 2011, I sensed a feeling that I was supposed to reach out to an old friend and ask if I could photograph her two-year-old daughter. So I did...
The entire shoot I wasn’t quite sure why I was there. I kept praying, “Why am I here? Why am I doing this photo shoot for free?” I didn’t sense an answer, so I just assumed it wasn’t about me and kept shooting. Towards the end of the session, I asked the mom if they were going to have more children and she answered, “Well, we’re actually in the process of adopting.”
It felt like the clouds parted, and I heard a voice deep in my heart, “You’re supposed to go with them and document their adoption.” So I looked at my friend and said, “I think I’m supposed to go with you to Bulgaria and photograph your adoption.” And of course she was like, “Uh, well...let me talk to my husband...” and I was like, “Oh yeah, let me talk to my husband too!” Because Nick was an airline pilot, we were able to travel last minute to Bulgaria, enabling us to document the adoption of a seven-year-old boy with Down Syndrome.
It was the most beautiful and humbling experience of our lives. We were able to witness from behind our cameras a family choosing to love a boy just because. This child did nothing to earn his adoption or his family, he was chosen.
A few weeks later, after we had returned home and put the photos on Facebook, I received a message from a complete stranger, “We are now adopting a five-year-old who is chronically ill from Ukraine. If it had not been for your photos we would have never found our son.” That was the moment when we realized the power of storytelling to inspire people into action.
We formed our orphan care advocacy 501c-3 soon after and named it after the little Bulgarian boy who’s adoption started it all. Archibald.
Since this first adoption we have traveled internationally 19 times to work with families and organizations seeking to holistically fight the orphan crisis. We’ve learned the hard way who to trust, and who not to. We’ve learned that when it comes to vulnerable people we must investigate and ask hard questions because people’s lives are at stake, and people are worth it! We’ve seen corruption and redemption, and our hearts bleed for the vulnerable children and families who so often experience unethical standards.
Our desire is to see the orphan crisis eliminated. This does not mean there will no longer be orphans in the world, but this means that every child will have a safe and healthy home environment where they have the opportunity to develop and thrive! And this, my friend, is worth devoting our entire lives to, because we truly believe this can be accomplished in the next generation.
The Road to Adoption with Ryan and Mary
Ryan and Mary reside in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon with their 3 adopted children, 1 foster baby and their dog, Bailey. Ryan is a Pastor at their local church, and Mary spends her time home schooling the kids and caring for the family. They have been foster parents since 2013.
A Judge's Perspective on Children and Foster Care
Judge Michael F. Leavitt was appointed to the Fifth District Juvenile Court in 2014 by Gov. Gary R. Herbert. He serves Beaver, Iron, and Washington counties. Judge Leavitt graduated from University of Idaho College of Law in 2002. Prior to his appointment, Judge Leavitt worked as an attorney with the law firm of Durham Jones & Pinegar (formerly Snow Nuffer) from 2002 through 2014. At the time of his appointment, he was serving as a Bar Commissioner with the Utah State Bar and previously served as President of the Southern Utah Bar Association.
A Great Success Story, featuring Ashley Rhodes-Courter
Since her first National Keynote at age 14, Ashley Rhodes-Courter has shared her story with thousands in the United States and in over 7 countries. Ashley Rhodes-Courter, MSW, is the quintessential American success story. Born in 1985 to a single teen mother, by the age of 3 she was in Florida’s foster care system where she spent almost ten years being shuttled between 14 homes—some quite abusive—before being adopted from a Children’s Home at the age of twelve.
By the age of 22, Ashley had become a New York Times Bestselling Author. Her first book, “Three Little Words” is now an International Bestseller and has been published in at least 4 countries. Her second book, “Three More Words” debuted at #1 on Amazon Bestseller’s List. Both books are used in classrooms across the country in various community and First Year Experience Collegiate programs. Ashley has received State, local, and National awards for her speaking, advocacy, and philanthropy. She has spoken on Capitol Hill and has been invited to the White House twice. “Three Little Words” is now being made into a major motion picture.
Complete Opposites, Yet Irish Twins
Hi we’re Rosalee and Rochelle, were complete opposites, yet Irish twins. Rochelle is a tall, blonde, dancer while Rosalee is a short, brown haired, exercise enthusiast. The reasons that brought us together were out of our control but we choose to be sisters and have been so blessed by this relationship.
Foster care can be a tricky situation to be in as a young preteen/teenage child. There are already so many changes with your emotions, hormones, and the self consciousness that often accompanies middle and high school, and on top of that we were trying to navigate our new foster care life that consisted of missing our biologically family terribly, getting used to new and strange environments, and trying to overcome traumas associated with our childhood.
Our story is one of how two seemingly incompatible girls grew and bonded over their shared life experiences while living together in foster care.
Getting to Know Josh Shipp
Statistically, Josh Shipp should be dead, in jail, or homeless. But his success as a preeminent author, speaker, and global youth empowerment expert is living proof of the power of one caring adult. A former at-risk foster kid turned youth advocate, Josh is renowned for the documentary TV series on A&E that followed his groundbreaking work with youth and families.
He has written two national bestsellers to date, "The Grown-Up's Guide to Teenage Humans" – winner of the Nautilus Gold Award for Parenting & Family – and "The Teen's Guide to World Domination."
Thanks to the support of teachers, counselors, and a wonderful set of foster parents, Josh went on to be listed on Inc. Magazine's 30 under 30 list, and is now a postgraduate student at Harvard himself, further honing his skills in persuasive communication.
Josh is regularly called on by OPRAH, CNN, FOX, The New York Times, 20/20, Good Morning America, and others to provide commentary on common challenges faced by parents and teachers. Over the years, Josh has keynoted events for countless groups of parents, educators, and social workers – with audiences as large as 55,000 – and to date has spoken live in front of more than two million people. Viral clips of his acclaimed presentations have been viewed an estimated 50 million times online through platforms such as UpWorthy, Goalcast, and BuzzFeed.
To serve his ultimate goal of reaching as many youth as possible, Josh trains other speakers through Youth Speaker University, helping them use their own stories to make an impact. His social and emotional learning curriculum, Year of Awesomeness, is in use in hundreds of classrooms all around the world, while his free newsletter offers practical strategies to 200K+ parents, educators, and social workers.
As a foster mom of 3, this gave me the inspiration I needed to keep going. Foster care can be so hard with all of the unknown, but this reminded me why we took the leap of faith in the first place! ❤️
Inspiring and thought provoking!
I am in the process of getting licensed to be a foster parent right now and I love how this podcast focuses on success stories. There are a lot of scary stories that get circulated and people often respond to me with fear when I tell them I am going to foster. I will be referring those people here from now on. As someone without any biological children, I would love an episode focused on becoming a parent for the first time through foster care. Maybe interviewing someone with that experience? I appreciate all the talk about how it affects biological kids but would be interested to hear the perspective of someone who had never parented before.
This podcast has deeply inspired me. Although I am a young 22 year old woman, I have been thinking a lot about adopting children sometime in the coming years. Listening to these podcast episodes have taught me a ton about adoption and foster children. I never even considered fostering as an option for me until listening to these episodes. I am forever grateful for the information that has been shared 💜 I am now much more inspired to discover ways I can give back to children and feel more aligned with what I believe is an aspect of living my purpose