Helping without hurting in Uganda

As a follow up to my post about Orphans and Adoption in Uganda yesterday, I wanted to share a few ways to get involved.

I also wanted to clarify one thing. One person said she agreed with what I wrote until then end where I said “consider adopting older and special needs kids.” In saying this, I do not want to imply that only older or special needs orphans need families. I do want to challenge and encourage my readers to really consider if they could parent a child who is a little older or who had special needs. As our pediatrician put it, “not all special needs are that special” and many are easily treated in the United States. Every family has unique gifts and I would love to see more families truly praying about adopting kids who are not “perfect” in the world’s eyes. In my suburban neighborhood, for example, there are half a dozen kids who have special needs: heart conditions, cleft lip and palate, hearing loss, premature birth and more. No parent expects to have a child who has these unique challenges, but all of us would agree our kids are worth it. I can’t imagine our neighborhood – or our family – without our “special” little ones. Including my son Micah who was born five years ago today with a congenital heart defect. I wish more families would be open to consider children who are HIV positive or who have other special needs! Babies and toddlers who are orphaned need families too, but increasingly these little ones can find adoptive families in Uganda. This is something we can celebrate! The orphans who need international adoption are often older or have special needs. So think about it.

Back to my main point. Here are links to a few people and organizations working in Uganda who inspire me. Read what they have to say, share these stories, and get involved. Some of these groups are advocating for reform in adoption and orphan care – others are supporting vulnerable families.

Learn. Advocate. Give. And make a difference.

This video is from Child’s I Foundation – an organization dedicated to making families, not orphans. The organization supports vulnerable families, advocates for domestic adoption and provides temporary care for abandonded and at-risk babies.

Mark and Keren Riley are working to get children out of harmful orphanages in Uganda. Mark and Keren are adoptive parents and offer a helpful “on the ground” perspective as people who are fighting everyday for what is best for Ugandan families and kids.

A Child’s Voice is a new organization started by adoptive families and a Ugandan lawyer who used to work at the U.S. Embassy handling immigrant visas. This organizations is working to bring transparency to Ugandan adoptions and orphan care and to advcoate for change in Uganda. I’m really excited about the potential A Child’s Voice has to speak up for vulnerable children and families in Uganda.

Noonday Collection is providing opportunity to families in Uganda to have a path out of poverty. Noonday pays artisans a fair, living wage so that they can provide medical care and an education to their children – preventing children from being orphaned or abanonded due to poverty. The Noonday artisans make jewelry out of recycled paper beads and seeds. Noonday also sells shoes made by talented young women who have the potential to go on to change this country.

Tukula is a little like Noonday, but working with a different group of women in Uganda to make beautiful handbags and accessories.

Ok, there are so many more, but my daughter just woke up from her nap. I’m a mommy first. Feel free to comment to add other organizations who are making a difference in Uganda!



Sara Brinton

SARA BRINTON is a writer and entrepreneur with a passion for reforming international adoption and orphan care. She leads marketing for Noonday Collection, a business that uses fashion to create opportunity in developing countries. Sara and her husband, Mark, live in Austin, Texas with their four children, including daughter Gabrielle who was adopted from Uganda.

  • Jenni Ramsey

    March 9, 2012 at 10:09 pm Reply

    Great post Sara. Thanks for all of the wonderful resources!!!!

  • Naomi

    March 10, 2012 at 1:03 am Reply

    Thank you Sara. I have enjoyed reading both your posts and do agree with everything you say. I had email contact with you regarding a question I had and you were very helpful, not sure if you remember me. Anyway thank you so much for the link to A Child’s Voice! I met with Freda at the US Embassy in January for advice concerning adopting from Uganda. She was so helpful and gave us more insight than anyone else. I appreciate honesty and want to be as educated as possible. The last thing any adoptive parent wants is to take a child from their country when they could have been placed in Ugandan families or with extended family members. We are all learning together and I am thankful for the resources you have shared and the knowledge you have gained during this past year. Do continue to share!


  • Gayle O'Connell

    March 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm Reply

    Here is another organization making a difference in Africa. It was started by a good friend and her church in Shawnee, Kansas. They’ve been helping children in Africa for 10 years now. View their webpage for more information:

  • Julie

    March 11, 2012 at 5:02 am Reply

    don’t forget amazima!

  • Megan

    March 17, 2012 at 6:26 pm Reply

    Sarah loving all you have written about Ugandan adoptions. Abide Family Center will be operating spring 2013 and will be coming alongside vulnerable families to prevent child abandonment. Check out our program model and blog

  • Laura

    March 28, 2012 at 12:06 pm Reply

    I’m very new to this whole discussion, but it answers some of the questions I’ve been struggling with — is it better to leave the children there and support organizations who support them, or is it better to adopt them out of the country? We’re trying to figure out how to best use our resources as a family, and this is very helpful!
    Have you heard of SOS Childrens Villages? Is this similar to Child’s I?
    Thanks for the posts!

    • Sara

      April 6, 2012 at 4:02 am Reply

      Hi Laura.
      I believe children are designed to grow up in families. Whenever possible, it is best to support children in their families. Most children are placed in orphangaes as a result of poverty, but orphanages are an expensive, harmful response to poverty. It is much more effective to find ways to empower parents to provide for their children and to break the cycle of poverty. There are some times that children are separated from their parents due to abuse or neglect – or that a child experiences the death of both parents and does not have extended family willing or able to care for them. In these cases, its important for children to be placed with families, not in institutions. I am familiar with the SOS Children’s Village model. While these “villages” are “family like”, I do not think they are equivalent to children living with families. The SOS Villages are different from Childs I. Child’s I only keeps kids for about 6 months. In that time, they try to either support the vulnerable family to be able to parent – or they place the child with an adoptive family. Child’s I is located in Uganda and they have a list of Ugandan parents willing to adopt. So far, they have not had to place a child for international adoption because many families in Uganda are willing to adopt babies. I think whenever possible it is best to encourage adoption. Domestic adoption is great if it is possible. In many countries around the world, there are a growing number of parnets willing to adopt orphaned or abandoned babies. The need for international adoption is mostly for older or special needs kids. We are in the process of adopting a child who has a special need that makes it basically impossible for her to be adopted in her home country – so for her, international adoption is a great blessing.

      As far as how best to use your resources, I think it depends on what your family is “called” to do. If you want another child and are open to adoption, this can be a blessing to a child who is orphaned and truly in need of a family. If you mostly want to do something to help vulnerable children, there is a great need for giving. If you want to help orphans, I would look for an organization that is focused on supporting family-based care, not institutions (including children’s villages). One of the biggest needs is for people to get involved in business development, creating opportunities for families to have a sustainable path out of poverty. Other areas of great need are for improved medical care, access to education, and justice (fighting trafficking, protecting the rights of widows and orphans, etc). Hope this helps!

  • sarah

    April 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm Reply

    Am a woman living with HIV ,my Husband died and left me with a child whose a baby of one year. but requesting for from help in your organization , to cater for my child and me , i was once employed but when my boss got to know of my status , they hold a board meeting and decided to terminate from only job since finishing school.
    I will be great full if my request is put into consideration.
    SARAH .N

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