Turning a Blind Eye: American Exceptionalism and Domestic Adoptions


How many of you have been caught innocently watching TV when you’re sent into a 30-second (or longer) guilt trip as you sit in the warmth of your home when the screen flashes to those big, doe-eyed pictures of third-world children? Starving. Barely (if at all) clothed. Or worse–big, doe-eyed ANIMALS. They prey on your emotions until you can’t help but pick up the phone and call and save…something.


In no way am I trying to say that these causes are not worth your time or attention or money. But, I’m sitting there watching these commercials and I suddenly wonder: why are there no commercials for the thousands of American children waiting to be adopted, rescued from a foster home or simply fed? Why don’t they get our attention and money too? Think about it. When is the last time you ever saw an advertisement for domestic adoption? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. Why is it okay to run ad after ad after ad for animals and foreign children, while not giving just one spot to our own children in need?

American Exceptionalism is still alive and well. We are still convinced that we are the Divine’s safe haven and chosen land, the pattern for the rest of the world to follow and simply–exceptional. We are a light upon the hill. Fear of darkening this light or the safety we find within our superiority prevents us from pointing out our own country’s needs when it comes to domestic adoptions. It’s too ugly, too raw and too painful. It reminds us that we’re not all hard-working, middle-class “‘muricans” who value family, diligence and democracy. Because one of us, an American, abandoned these poor children and along the way, most likely, did some pretty hard damage to their psyche and physical health.

If we truly are devoted to the concept of American Exceptionalism and continuing that, we should realize that part of that exceptionalism is an ability to identify your own faults and FIX them. American exceptionalism is rooted in an understanding that we are to be an example to the rest of the world based on living our lives out according to God’s guiding principles. In that case, it is our responsibility to help ourselves. And in helping ourselves, we would be a positive example to other nations. We would continue to be a model.

I hope that this blog makes you think a little more about the importance of doing your part to help those in need in our own backyard. Yes, helping international babies and animals is important too. But what type of country are we if we ignore our own issues and only seek to help other countries with theres?

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? -Matthew 7:3

“…for we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us;” -John Winthrop


Saving the World…on a Budget

The idea for this series came to Cade and I while we were volunteering this summer at a spectacular place called WAR (Women At Risk). They help raise women out of sexual slavery, prostitution, and other dangerous situations by teaching them valuable skills and taking them to safe houses. This work is funded by the selling of jewelry in their American-based WAR Boutiques.

While volunteering, Cadey and I were constantly voicing our wishes over how we could buy all this stuff…if only we had the money. Our generation is one of the most philanthropic ever recorded, but most of us 20-25 year olds who wish to be philanthropic simply don’t have the money to do so. We want to save the world, but we just don’t have the money. Thus the phrase “save the world…on a budget” was born. And the idea for this series. This series will help show you how even on the smallest of postgrad border-line-poverty budgets you too can do your part to follow your philanthropic soul and save the world.

First Stop: Save the World in Your Kitchen!

The Kitchen is a great place to start. Mostly, you outfit your kitchen all at once. While preparing to buy your kitchen items, you know there are some signature pieces you have to have: large mixing bowl, ladle, pot holders, pitcher, etc. Before you hop on over to Bed Bath and Beyond, check out your local fair-trade stores to see what they have. Many of them actually have these pieces. So not only are you buying something you need, you’re helping women and children across the world by buying them at a place committed to philanthropic service to others. Here are some great examples of kitchen items you can buy fair-trade.

1. Salad serving utensils

You can find these at WAR for only $10. At Target, these range anywhere from $10-$20. So which would you rather buy?

2. Bowls

Big and small, fair-trade stores have tons of bowls to look at. The ones featured here are from the fair-trade store Ten Thousand Villages, and range in price from $14-$50 (those being the beautiful, beautiful ones that you can use for party serving when you’re trying to impress your boss to give you that raise so you can save the world on a bigger budget).

3.Coffee and Tea

This is by far the easiest one. Really, there’s almost no excuse not to buy fair trade coffee. We all drink it, so make sure you do your part to help the world out. You can order a pound online from Equal Exchange for only $10 (use this super nifty and fun ‘Coffee Finder‘ to figure out which blend is best for you). And good news, all of Starbucks coffees are fair trade. So really, it’s not that hard.

4. Olive oil and Spices

Lots of fair trade stores are now supplying Olive Oil. It’s something you don’t buy often, so when you do, make it fair-trade.

5. Napkins, Tablecloths and Placemats

Even if you don’t buy them all at once, start building your collection. The different patterns will add great pops of color. Check these out.

6. Vases

7. Paper flowers

Check out these from WAR. If you’re going to decoare your kitchen by using pitchers full of fake flowers, consider checking at a fair-trade store first.

8. Hand soaps

Basically, use your head before you buy. There’s a lot of little things we commonly buy, such as these kitchen utensils, that we don’t even think to check for in a fair-trade store. It’s a little move that can make a big difference. Leave us a comment and let us know what other good items you’ve found! What are some of your favorite fair trade stores?

Happy shopping!