I love adoption. As in crazy, super love it. I have since I was a teenager; it's one of the few things that can make me bawl like a baby. If you have been around this blog for any length of time, you know that our family is in the middle of our own adoption process which, even though we still have a long way to go, has already been a life-changing, beautiful journey. I just want to set that straight before I dive into this post.
So here's the deal. My view on adoption has taken a slight shift lately, especially since our trip to Ethiopia. I realize that I have seen adoption as the answer to the worldwide orphan crisis. And I don't quite feel that way anymore. It's a part of the way to tackle this issue. If done well, it's stunningly beautiful. But I'm seeing what a narrow view I had.
In Ethiopia I met impoverished single mothers. Loving, caring impoverished single mothers. We encountered the reality of women barely able to hold their families together for sheer lack of food. We also heard stories of mothers having to make the gut-wrenching decision to give up the children they loved simply because didn't have the means to meet their basic needs. We all want to imagine that orphanages are full of true orphans, or at least kids whose parents are not fit to care for them; but in a third world country, that's not the story of all the children there.
Then I thought of some of my friends who are single moms. I pondered these tender, caring women who would swim an ocean for their children. I wondered what it would look like if they couldn't provide for their children. Would I sit by if they could no longer feed their children? Would I discount the maternal lullabies, the mother's touch, and fact that these women are fiercely loving mothers and instead suggest that the answer was to put their kids up for adoption? Of course not! Instead I'd be in line with my other girlfriends ready to give anyone that would imply such a thing one very large piece of my mind.
But in a way, by putting all my energy and attention into tackling the orphan crisis via adoption, haven't I done just that? Isn't it a bit a like a doctor who is only willing to treat the symptoms instead of practicing preventive medicine. I've begun to realize how crucial it has to be to put a priority on doing everything in our power to keep potential orphans in the culture and family into which God birthed them. While adoption is a key component of dealing with existing orphans, what about doing something to stop the bleeding and counteract the future orphan numbers?
It's a somewhat newer thought to me, the concept of orphan prevention. I've realized that if I really want to follow God's command to care for the orphans and the widows, I'm going to need to think more broadly. For me it starts with putting my money where my mouth is- getting involved in reputable sponsorship programs, connecting with ministries that work in orphan prevention, and advocating for these issues. And while you better believe that I will remain a strong adoption supporter, I want an equal amount of my resources and energy to go into orphan prevention or care of the children who will never have the chance for adoption.
When someone hears that our family is adopting, they often share with me the heart they have for orphans but how they don't feel called to adopt. This is completely legitimate and the case for many people. But the point I'm sharing and daresay pleading is that opening your heart to the orphan crisis does not automatically equal adoption. While you may never bring an orphan into your family, you can support a child in need and carry them in your heart and your prayers. There are many ministries that care for the un-adoptable and an increasing amount that help connect a family that God has blessed with resources to a family that is depleted of them so that we can truly tackle the orphan crisis head-on.
Obviously this can take place all over the world; but if you're eager to get started right now, Embracing Hope is an excellent, reputable group (we loved our visit with them!) that has 50 sponsorship slots to fill to help keep children with their mommies. You can find more info HERE.
Let's live this day for the day when all our tears will be wiped away, and the term "orphan" shall cease to exist.