This nonprofit organization shares heartwarming photos of foster kids on the day they were adopted in the hopes of shattering some of the negative stereotypes attached to the foster care system.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 16, 2019. It has since been updated.
The foster care system in America has several flaws, but we can recognize and highlight the positive stories that emerge out of it. For Danny Mendoza, merely articulating systemic flaws was never an option. He knew he had to do something to change the way youth experience foster care and with this in mind, he set up the nonprofit organization Together We Rise in 2008.
Mendoza set up Together We Rise 11 years ago after discovering that his 9-year-old cousin was living in a car. All attempts to help the little one had several obstacles as he was under 21 at the time, and being denied the chance to help his cousin and other youth in similar situations was quite disheartening. However, rather than give up, this inspiring young man began working on a vision that would change the lives of thousands of foster kids.
Motivated by the encouragement of his friends and other individuals who believed in his vision, Mendoza set up Together We Rise, which aims to "improve the lives of children in foster care, who often find themselves forgotten and neglected by the public." The non-profit organization collaborates with "individuals, companies, and community partners to bring resources to foster youth and use service-learning activities to educate volunteers on issues surrounding the foster care system."
In addition to educating volunteers about the issues surrounding the foster care system and guiding foster parents through the adoption process, the organization also offers foster kids resources like school supplies, bicycles, educational programs, and college scholarships. It also uses social media to share heartwarming photos of foster kids on the day they were adopted, in the hopes of shattering some of the negative stereotypes attached to the foster care system. "With so much negative news surrounding foster care, we just want to highlight the positive with amazing adoptions that are happening every day," Gianna Dahlia, the executive director of Together We Rise, said to The Huffington Post in 2016.
"There are many negative stereotypes surrounding kids in foster care, but they are just children who want loving families -- and there are families out there fighting for them. We just want to inspire those families either going the process or considering the adoption process that it can be done and it is worth it," she added. With over 201k followers on Instagram, the organization has seen a tremendous response to its posts. "We've had thousands of people reach out to us and either say they are considering being a foster parent or adopting because of the photos," the non-profit revealed to The Bored Panda.
"Every day we have people reaching out to us wanting to learn more about the adoption process or what they can do to help. We even inspired thousands of professional photographers who wanted to donate their services to families adopting. With an overwhelming amount of inquiries, we posted an application for any interested photographers and on the first day we had over 5000 professionals sign up," it added. Check out some of the sweetest adoption photos shared by Together We Rise: