Despite having over 300 clubs on campus, the 2020 formation of Fostered and Adopted Canes Together (FACT) marked the beginning of the University of Miami’s first organization for adopted students and students once in the foster care system.
“It is a little community spreading awareness and putting on fun,” said Zoë Manz, a junior majoring in ecosystem science and policy and vice president of FACT.
Manz says FACT aims to build relationships on campus while also educating and giving back to members of the foster and adopted community. She was adopted from southeastern China and says she feels FACT has the potential to make a big impact both on campus and within the Miami community.
In addition to hosting regular meetings, FACT recently completed a fundraiser to provide duffel bags and birthday gift boxes to a local youth center for foster children.
FACT hopes the donations will allow children to more easily move their belongings from home to home if necessary and give them something special to look forward to on their birthdays. They have raised over $3,000 dollars for children in the foster care system in partnership with SweetBlendz, a South Miami restaurant chain.
Rasul Rahman, a junior majoring in management and FACT’s secretary, says the organization has allowed students to create a community based on shared childhood experiences.
“My parents told me I was adopted early on, basically when I was about two or three, so that kind of changed the projection of how I deal with people, trauma and how I deal with relationships in general,” Rahman said,
Rahman was adopted at birth from Chicago and does not know who his biological parents are.
“Seeing that community here on campus really made me want to not only just be included in it, but lead within it,” Rahman said.
Rahman says FACT has helped ease the pressure of adjusting to college for students that may be burdened by their experiences in the foster care system.
“The FACT community really just lets me feel like I am not alone and that the experiences that I go through when dealing with it are not alone,” Rahman said. “Even though some of the members and e-board are not adopted, the support system is there.”
FACT leaders hope to establish similar programs at other colleges to create a national network of foster and adopted students. Manz says they plan to establish student-run panels to host discussions and questionnaires for people interested in adopting a child.
“FACT was originally created to serve as a community for foster and adopted students, but now we have tailored it more to a community to spread awareness,” Manz said. “You do not have to be adopted. You do not have to be a foster care kid to join the club. We are learning and growing together.”
With nearly 50 members, Manz says FACT has grown quickly since it was established in 2020. Students interested in joining or participating in FACT initiatives can find more information on Engage or by following their Instagram @um_fact.