By Ryan Bomberger, Chief Creative Officer of The Radiance Foundation
This is the right time of year to focus on the things we like, the things we’re thankful for, the things that have changed our lives.
Yesterday, my wife and I didn’t know that one of those ‘things’ would cause us tears as we sat and watched an incredibly powerful short film called “I LIKE ADOPTION”. I’m adopted. My wife, Bethany, and I are adoptive parents. We really like adoption. But this creative effort struck us differently than anything we had seen before.
The story, with bursts of sun flares and gorgeous visuals, immediately takes ahold of you. I’m fighting tears, now, just thinking about it. One of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever seen on adoption invites you into the hearts and home of a remarkable family—The Dennehys. With three biologically related children and nine specially chosen from around the world (with two from the U.S. foster care system), their home is an intriguing tapestry of hues, cultures, laughter and love.
“People discouraged us. They thought we were going to ruin our lives by taking all of these special kids, and they said ‘you don’t know what to do’. And, it’s true that we had no experience, and we didn’t really know how to raise them. But, you see what happens with unconditional love. You give a person unconditional love, and they blossom.”—Sharon Dennehy, mother of 12 children (nine of which were adopted).
As you watch the story unfold, you see a family with a mixture of children the world would consider “normal” and those without limbs that many today would discard as a “burden”. To Michael and Sharon Dennehy, these children aren’t a burden but gifts that helped two parents understand their own God-given purpose in life—to give and to love.
“I LIKE ADOPTION” was released this week by a fascinating new website called ILikeGiving.com. I had to know more about the genesis of this site and its unselfish emphasis on living generously. The organization doesn’t ask for people to give money to them, but to, instead, give their action. In a narcissistic culture so obsessed with self, wealth and temporal gratification, this is counter-cultural. But there’s no guilt, no shame, no condemnation—just visual and written excellence delivering a simple message of the joy of giving.
The creator of the I LIKE GIVING campaign is Brad Formsma, a father of three and a dreamer whose vision has become a life-changing reality. In a late night conversation with this humble and inspiring producer, I couldn’t help but think about the power of social media to move hearts and shift culture. Brad told me he wanted to create a campaign that fostered awareness (about many social issues and needs all around us) that would become action and would help bring conversation about giving into family dialogue.
2 Corinthians 9:7 embodies the whole I LIKE GIVING campaign: God loves a cheerful giver. “When you give, we change, and others change…for the better,” Brad told me as he described the heart of this online effort. The site allows people to send in a film of their own, a picture, or a few paragraphs explaining what they like. In each personal account, the focus is on giving and how it transforms. With titles like I LIKE BIKE, I LIKE BUGSHELLS, I LIKE CAR, I LIKE BASEMENTS, you find out the tear-inducing substance with each story and video. The unique I LIKE _______® concept allows you to fill in the blank. You tell the story.
“It’s life-giving,” Brad says. And it all started when a Sudanese family, in his community, had their bikes stolen. In I LIKE BIKE, Brad tells the story of how he and his family grasped the power of giving generously when they spent a Sunday afternoon buying new bikes and sharing in the joy of a father and son as complete strangers replaced what they had lost.
The latest short film, I LIKE ADOPTION, gives us a glimpse of what could’ve been lost if a family failed to live generously or failed to act and give themselves to someone else. The Dennehys represent what giving is all about and the beauty that arises from self-sacrifice.
“The pure joy that will come from a rescue of a child’s life is probably the most satisfying thing you can imagine.” –Michael Dennehy, father of 12 children (nine of which were adopted).
I can’t imagine someone not being moved to introspection and action after watching this short film about the gift of family. It speaks to the heart without offense. Change is inevitable. You probably won’t be able to make it through without pausing and fighting back tears. And when the video ends, your soul may just be whispering, I LIKE TRANSFORMATION.