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Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Orphans

A new year.  

New beginnings.  

Papa and I began our adoption journey right as the new year started in 2007. In 2004 we committed and started the process, had a bad experience and put on the brakes.  Then in 2006, Papa said something like, let's wait to talk seriously about this stuff again until the new year.  And when the new year came, we talked seriously.

OK, I know that there are only a handful of you that read my ego-centric ramblings.  But just maybe this can impact one person, or reaffirm one desision, or set one course into action.  And if my blather can do that for even one person then I'm ok with that.  So I'm just gonna put this out there, and you can do what you may with it.  God has been whispering in my ear a long time about this one.  It's high time I put it down.

So let's just start with some facts about the problem.

  • estimates the total number of orphans in 2008 worldwide is 163 million.  UNICEF reports that there are 145 million worldwide.  That's millions folks.  Don't breeze to lightly past that number.  The vast majority are found in 3rd world countires.  
  • Orphans "in the system" spend an average of 10 years in an orphanage or foster home.
  • Every year14,050,000 children still grow up as orphans and "age out" of the system never to have a forever family.  
  • 1.8 million children worldwide are engaged in prostitution and/or pornography. (UNICEF 2009)  I won't put my head into the sand and deny that many of the orphans are easy prey for the pornography and prostitution industry.
  • 150 million children ages 5–14 years old engage in child labour. (UNICEF 2009)  Again, I'm sure orphans are easy targets.
  • In Ukraine and Russia 10% -15% of children who age out of an orphanage commit suicide before age 18.  60% of the girls are lured into prostitution. 70% of the boys become hardened criminals.  I don't think I'm making a huge leap to think that orphans all over the world around have similar outcomes.  

Perhaps these number are exaggerated, and there are only 10's of millions of orphans in the world and only 10% of the girls become prostitutes.  Even if these numbers are inflated, it's impossible to deny that there are orphans needing permanent loving families in the world.  They are there.  Many are older and/or have special needs.  They go to sleep each night not knowing the security and love a family provides.  

So now that we've identified the problem, what does God says about orphans?  He makes it crystal clear.  He simply commands we care for the widows and the orphans in James 1:27.  Now this is where I might loose some of you, and I hope I don't offend anyone.  Risking my fragile self-esteem, it's still ok with me 'cause I still think it needs to be said.  I'm certain that God loves us dearly, but when it comes to His beloved orphans, I don't think God cares much about our already hectic schedules or our never-ending laundry pile.  He doesn't make mention of exceptions for our age or marrital status or the square footage of our home.  Or our SUV that only holds 7 passengers, and where in the world are we gonna put the dog kennel and cooler if we can't put the rear seat down on a road trip.  Already pretty busy?  Maybe we should reprioritize the time-sucking vortex of "stuff" that our society so highly covets.  I don't think He (and certainly not the orphan for that matter) gives a lick about each child needing to have their own bedroom or that coffee date, bunko night, golf lession, bible study, PTO board position, tennis match, 2 extra hours of overtime, or "me-time" bubble bath that mama may have to forego to spend time on an adopted child's therapy session.  Financially, we are to prioritize to His desires and trust in Him to move the mountains.  Don't have enough time in your day?  Ask yourself if it is time for your will or His?  God tells us very simply to care for the orphan, His sweet children.  And thusly we are to have faith in Him to provide our needs.  

Additionally, James 1:22 tells us that simply knowing God's word is not enough.  He commands us to act once we know His will.   He doensn't say to know about the orphan or acknowledge the orphan or feel empathy for the orphan.  He commands us to act on behalf of the orphan.  And admittingly, not all are called to adopt, but providing and caring for orphans is something all can do.  There are many families that are called to adopt, and they need help.  And certainly there are numerous way to help these children.

Lastly, for those of you not deeply imeshed in international adoption circles, our US government is making it increasing difficult to adopt internationally, placing unrealistic demands on foreign countries and limiting the number of countries it is willing to process orphans visas for.  And sadly for those millions of orphans who will go to bed tonight without a mama's kiss, other placement countries are following suit.  My only personal experience is though our own adoptions from VietNam and the burocratic nightmare we endured.   The VeitNam program closed to Americans as our adoptions were concluding in 2008, and it certainly wasn't due to the lack of orphaned children needing homes.  

Think about it.
Something's gotta change.

(Apparently Sherri gave me her soapbox for Christmas.  I promise not to get on it too often!)


  1. Love the photo of the kids sledding - it is beautiful - did you get knocked down taking it? lol As for the orphan situation, it is good to be reminded of the tragedy of children without parents and homes - as I am so tired of reading about those who think orphans should not be taken out of their "culture." Can you write your thoughts on this. Would love to hear them - it would help me, I know, as sometimes I feel very guilty for having taken Emma out of her country, although I do know she will most certainly have a better life with us, here in the U.S.!! Culture over love?? Huh?

  2. I realize this comment is over 2 years behind the times, but being new to me I just want to thank you profusely for your words and your honesty. I am momma to 5 homegrown kids and our family is feeling very called to adopt.

    We have talked about it off and on, but the fire was reignited despite living in a tight 1420 sq ft. No extra room in the house, in the car or in the budget (I have thrown these hurdles in God's way) but more than enough room in our hearts. If I truly believe this is God's calling, I must then also believe He will provide the means if we walk in obedience.

    Our current home now has wiggle room. We are going to throw our mini-van up on Craigslist to see if anyone with a larger van wants to trade. And, we are praying audaciously for a change in our income.

    I could ramble on and on and on, but I will choose to exercise some self-control. As a self-proclaimed photographer and lover of words, I have bookmarked your blog as earthly inspiration for the road ahead.

    Thank you!


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