Use this form to share your own story about being an adopter or an adoptee.
From Ashley Asti, Adopter & Sponsor
I set out to write women who are incarcerated because I wanted them to know that they are not alone. I wanted them to know that they are loved and supported and that their stories and lives matter because, the truth is, we heal with love, not isolation. But what I’ve gotten in return is a gift far greater and far more precious than any I can offer.
Each of the women I write with has gifted me friendship, including the powerful intimacies of trust, vulnerability, openness. And when I receive their handwritten letters, I am blessed to hold between my fingers the paper that was once in theirs, to see the shapes of their handwriting that express the essence of them, uniquely.
These letters are lessons in life. I am moved by the strength they hold, the endurance they convey, the powerful rumblings of faith that seem to lift themselves up off the page. These women are my sisters in spirit, guiding me.
Their words are testaments to gratitude; somehow, these women have reached inside themselves and surfaced with reserves of grace, of energy to continue thanking and giving back, no matter how much or how little they have: “I hope and pray this reaches you with much strength, joy and peace,” one sister greets me.
Their words are testaments to the compelling and universal experience of loneliness and survival: “The adversity I endure through is breathtaking and I sometimes get weakened to the point of giving up.” But, still, this sister continues, “I have hope in a hopeless place and I have faith in a faithless place.” She is also a testament to strength.
And, finally, they are each testaments to redemption: “I put myself in this situation so I can’t blame anyone. But I will not allow my past to define me,” one brave sister writes. “For many years I dwelled on my past and it did nothing for me, I was in bondage. It took me to surrender and give it to God before I realized this is no longer my fight. If anything, [my past] has made me a better person, the woman that I am today. Now I’m using this time to better myself.”
To each of you, my sisters, who have shared your time, who have offered me your stories and who have listened to mine, and who have reminded me that we are companions on this journey, co-creators on this one planet we share, I thank you. Your letters give me life.
When you feel you are alone, know that I am here, with you, somehow. Thinking of you. Sending you my love and comfort across space and time. And know that I will continue sharing your voices because when we free your voices to soar, resisting reform—resisting transformation—becomes impossible. Caring about and respecting all living beings matters, no matter who we are or what we’ve done. Because, in truth, we are destined to bring ourselves down until we know that dehumanizing one dehumanizes all. Bars, isolation, and violence are no longer the answer. We must find better ways to heal and co-create justice.
I urge you, reading this right now, to begin this journey for yourself, discovering what’s possible when you intertwine your life with someone else’s through the simple act of writing. Together, we rise.
From Todd Hanson, awaiting sentencing
I wanted to personally thank you Melissa. This last week I was arraigned for my crime and had my first interview with pretrial services. The advice, articles and links that you so generously provide on your website and newsletters helped me enormously. Using the guidance provided I was able to:
- Avoid being remanded to custody until my sentencing.
- Allowed to sign a personal surety bond by myself without any need for co-signers.
- Understood the entire court process that my attorneys neglected to educate me on beforehand.
- Have the condition of being on an ankle monitor during my home confinement removed.
- The ability to travel within the continental US with 72 hours notice.
- Continue working so I can provide for myself and my family.
During my interview with pretrial services I was able to:
- Make a great first impression.
- Have them provide allowances for me to continue my volunteer work.
- Provide me leniency in my home confinement.
They were so impressed by how well prepared I was and how professional I interviewed that they stated they would support my attorneys efforts in attempting to have my home confinement order removed.
You have my gratitude. Your website provided me with invaluable information to help guide me in this unfortunate circumstance of my own making. I have a long road ahead of me to make restitution to my victims, the shareholders of insurance companies and repay my debt to society. The information you so generously make available will help me immeasurably. If there is anyway that I can repay your kindness or contribute to your website please let me know. Thank you and know that you have made an immense difference in my life.
From Shannon Myers, Adopter
I just wanted to write you about Adopt-an-Inmate and all the good that the program is doing. The good isn’t just for the inmates but for my family and I. I started with my first inmate in February of 2016 and I am now up to four. I am so pleased with everything involving this program. I look so forward to every mail day and getting letters in the mailbox I must be honest and tell you that when there isn’t one I get a little sad.
I found your site during a Google search on inmates needing pen pals. The reason I started this search was that my husband Steve came home from work (he is a funeral director) explaining to me that he had to pick a young lady up from the medical examiner’s office who had ended her life while in jail. I kept thinking that this young lady must have been in such a dark place to end her life and maybe she didn’t have anyone to talk to or couldn’t say certain things to them. What if that were my kids in that situation and they had no one to talk to, write to, or vent their worries to. This saddened me even more and so I set out to help someone if I could.
When I came across the Adopt an Inmate website I was excited to begin this endeavor. I e-mailed and asked what the process would be to potentially become a pen pal to an inmate. You responded quickly asking about hobbies, and interests, explained it would take a few days to match me up with an inmate and I anxiously waited. Soon I received an e-mail with my adopted inmate’s name, Angeline, her contact information, and a little about her. I sat down that night and wrote my introduction letter to her. I couldn’t wait to get it into the mailbox. Within a short time I received a response in the mail from my new pen pal. It was amazing to learn about her, and even more amazing to find out how much the two of us had in common. I couldn’t wait to sit down and respond with my next letter. We wrote back and forth several times and I realized that maybe I could help someone else.
I e-mailed about writing to a second inmate. Within a day or two I received information for Ty. I wrote my introductory letter and was completely amazed with a 14 page response from him! As Ty and I continued to write I would share the letters with my family, and my adult daughters would ask how he was doing. Now both of my girls write to Ty also.
I enjoy every letter that I receive and so I contacted you yet again to see if there was someone that might need my help. This time I received Belinda’s information and began writing. I have since received pictures from both Belinda and Ty and have returned the favor. It is always a great feeling to put a face to the letter I receive.
During this time my husband showed interest in adopting an inmate himself, and he received Zion’s information. Steve and Zion are both veterans and keep in touch regularly. It is great that you have found common interests with everyone that we write to.
My daughter decided that she loved writing to Ty and that she would like to write to someone herself. You responded with a possible match for her but decided that that person wasn’t the best fit for her after all. I appreciated that immensely and thank you for looking out for the best interests of my family. This proves to me that there is someone that genuinely cares for not just the inmates but their pen-pals. You do not complete these matches without careful consideration. This is very important. You found a better match for Kate and I offered write to the other young man instead. So now I am writing to four, my husband and daughter are each writing to one. Although the four that I write to are from different parts of this country, I have something in common with each one of them.
I am not sure how you manage to do all of this but I am grateful that you do. I thank you for allowing me and my family to reach out to each person and put smiles on not just their faces, but ours too. You and Adopt an Inmate are truly amazing! KUDOS to everyone involved and please never give up what you do! You truly help others like us make a difference in the lives of someone else.