Work/Life: Sustainability – 1 More Adoption, 1 Less Footprint

I’m 45 today. It’s Labor day, so appropriately, I’m laboring over this blog entry in the stickily sweet environs of a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlor, the mediocre drone of generic strummy rock competing with the Kelvinator. Hey, that’s why you don’t see me in Starbucks, when it’s free wi-fi I don’t complain.

I’m 45 today.


It’s Labor day, so appropriately, I’m laboring over this blog entry in the stickily sweet environs of a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlor, the mediocre drone of generic strummy rock competing with the Kelvinator. Hey, that’s why you don’t see me in Starbucks, when it’s free wi-fi I don’t complain.

Ten years ago I celebrated my birthday in the living room of two total strangers I’d met less than an hour or so earlier, who presented me with a cake, a card, and the key to the spare room somewhere in Edinburgh. Bedtime reading.

Today, I’m in exactly the same position, except now I get paid to sleep in the spare room.

So what are you other 45 year young women doing right now in a 10 mile radius of where I sit? Perhaps playing playing ultimate Frisbee with your nephews? Hooting over crotchless G-strings at a hen’s party? Throwing spendy Wholefoods kebabs on the Barbie? Talking on the big white telephone after a big night at the local tavern? Studying for a PhD you’re no longer that interested in? Blogging alone in Ben & Jerry’s …

Turning 45, at least for me, has thrown some switches to the ‘OFF’ position. For a start, any last desires to populate the world with my own image have been strangled along with any last hallucinations of being a Singapore Airlines calendar stewardess. A good thing, the use-by date on my eggs suggest they should be composted post haste.


If I was married, statistics indicate that soon, my death-do-us-part vow would be in danger, because male mid-life crisis and associated infidelity has been shown to coincide female menopause. Poor blokes, no more prospects to further populate the planet … damn nature, doesn’t it know we have a Yeti-sized carbon footprint stamping around out here?

Yet, if science could cope with the medical issues that can arise from old eggs and wizened sperm, 45 could be such an ideal time to have a child. Think about it. You’d have realized your career (3 times different), traveled ’til you you’re well and truly castled, stone-circled and Himalaya’d out, paid off your house, renting out a second, and you should be wiser and mellower, thus imbuing your offspring with the very best a parent can offer … the emotional tools to cope with this insane and unfair world. And you actually have time to spend with them.

And, by the time your child is 20, you’re about ready to kick them out of the house rather than be left bereft and struggling with the empty nester syndrome (I hardly ever see my daughter, she’s too busy!’) as I have witnessed in several of my customers.

Recently I attended one of the pivotal events in my career as a spokesperson for a bicycle company. The Little People of America Convention. I urge you to read my report, not because I wrote it, but because I cannot tell you how life-changing is to experience this community. Please read it now, even if you have to skip this birthday diatribe of mine forever,

Adjacent to our booth was the WACAP (World Association for Children and Parents) booth, who were offering dwarf children for adoption.

Did I want to put my name down on their list? Not really. I haven’t saved enough for in case I live, let alone a dependent. But I did, out of politeness. I received in the mail a catalog describing the kinds of children you could adopt.

It was a head opener. Kids of all ages and abilities. Some medical issues, emotional issues, some issues no worse than some that I, or many people I know, cope daily with.


Normally adoption costs a lot of money. $20-$40K. This is enough to put all but the most committed and cashed up off. A subset of these children, however, are adoptable for considerably less. And the fees for some are completely paid for by donations, as the organization has promised them a home. This latter group, called ‘Promise Children’, typically have some challenging issues, or are simply … older. Say, 8 to 16.

Older? I think I’d rather like a child out of the diaper, search-and-destroy, poke-fingers-in-electric-sockets, sneak-a-cigarette stage. Further, my need to ‘imprint’ and ‘mould’ a babe in arms to my own tastes is no greater than my desire to pass on certain personal characteristics I’d rather leave in this body, thank you – which is partly why I never wanted kids.

Then it occurred to me … we all talk about global warming, carbon offsetting, and ways we can reduce our carbon footprint. What could be more sustainable act than adopting one of these children rather than having your own?

The last time I experienced this was when after biking over the highest paved road in the world, (16,000 feet in Peru), we came upon an orphanage of 85 children whose parents had been killed by guerillas 8 years ago. A 3 hour, rocky and grueling taxi ride into the jungle, brought us to the Ocopa Orphanage. Such wonderful children, who stood politely when we were giving them gifts and food, the little ones at the front, stair stepped to the bigger children at the back. To wash the only set of clothes they had, they would stand out in the frequent rain and soap themselves down, both clothes and their bodies. One nun looks after them on her small subsidy, with a little help from a couple of older women. I tried to get them to smile for the camera. It took a lot of time and coaxing, but they obliged, and I wondered why I even coaxed.

Some of the nicest kids I know … orphans at the Puerto Ocopa Orphanage, Satipo, Peru. More photos from this expedition

Every year Lon Haldeman goes personally into the Orphanage and takes them supplies. Read about it and if you care to donate you know the money will go absolutely, positively and directly to them:


Christ Lutheran Church Fund,
PO Box 303, Sharon, Wisconsin, 53585
A tax-deductible receipt will be sent to you.

From the moment I met these kids, I realized that there are many children in need of loving parents as people wanting to be parents.

Adoption is not only an act of love and social responsibility … it’s an act of sustainability.


About the author

"Be social and the networking will follow." Lynette Chiang is an award-winning copywriter, brand evangelist, social media community manager, filmmaker, solo world bicycle adventurer and inventor of useful things. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Harvard University curriculums, the New York Times Book Review, FastCompany and the relationship marketing business press