Grant Thornton CEO Stephen Chipman on the importance of supporting adoption
By STEPHEN CHIPMAN April 25, 2014 3:42PM
Kim and Stephen Chipman with adopted daughters Emma and Samantha
Updated: May 9, 2014 2:10PM
During my time in China in the 1990s, I became very aware of the thousands of children who lacked a loving family. Along with a deep-seated belief that every child deserves an environment in which to thrive, this spurred my wife, Kim, and me to adopt two girls from China a number of years later. Though we were grateful to build a loving home for our daughters, we could not forget the children that we left behind. We were haunted by the lost looks of children destined to live in an institution without the skills and resources to provide them with the nurture and care that could put life back into their eyes.
We soon became aware of, and began to champion, a handful of organizations that provide adoption-related support. Among the organizations that we’ve come to know is the Gift of Adoption Fund, a national charitable organization based here in Illinois. The Gift of Adoption Fund assists adoptive families by providing grants to qualified parents — giving children a permanent home and a chance to thrive. This includes grants to families who are working to unite or keep siblings together, those adopting children with critical medical conditions or welcoming children who are aging out of orphanages.
John and Molly Connolly and their two adopted children are one such family. They adopted their son, Theo, as an infant and were recently contacted by Theo’s birthmother to see if they would be interested in adopting Theo’s older sister, Nicole. The Connollys were challenged to find the $10,000 they needed to complete the adoption, especially with John having been unemployed for two years. Through a Gift of Adoption Fund grant, Molly and John’s dream of uniting Theo and Nicole and providing these two children a chance to thrive is now a reality.
According to UNICEF, 153 million children in this world are orphaned, living in overburdened orphanages or, worse, on the streets. The impact of inaction is real. Children who grow up without a family suffer hardships and, not surprisingly, have poor life outcomes. It is estimated that up to nearly 40 percent of children who age-out of foster care at 18 years old end up homeless for at least some period of time. These children also are significantly less likely to earn a high school or college degree than their peers.
At my company, we believe in that by demonstrating tangible and visible support for adoption, businesses can immediately and permanently change the trajectory of these children’s lives. So five years ago we implemented a reimbursement benefit to further support our employees who welcome children into their families through adoption. It’s also why we chose to be a title sponsor of Gift of Adoption’s recent 2014 Domestic Fund event. The event’s proceeds will make it possible for more than 75 U.S.-born children to become part of a family in 2014. I hope you’ll join us in supporting this organization, which leaves indelible marks on our city and our hearts.
Get involved with the Gift of Adoption Fund by visiting Giftofadoption.org.