The Heartbreaking Reality of the Orphan Crisis
Several years ago my husband and I both felt the call to help and serve orphaned children. Because of this, we began to see the orphan crisis in a whole new light as we gathered information and studied the Bible. Adoption wasn’t just something other people did. Suddenly, we could see how God calls us to rescue, serve, and show Christ’s love to others.
It was confusing to know what the next steps should be. So, reaching out to various friends, we quickly saw that they didn’t share our same enthusiasm. In fact, some comments we have received throughout the years were hard to swallow. It made me realize that not everyone sees how God has called all of us to seek justice and to love the least of these.
Over the next months, my husband and I wrestled with when and whether to adopt. The truth is, loving orphans doesn’t always mean adoption – but we’ll get to that next week. Loving orphans means seeing a need and allowing God to use you in meeting their needs.
Unfortunately, not all believers or well-meaning friends know the right thing to say.
You’ve got so much on your plate already
The problem is too great and it isn’t going to go anywhere
What can we really do?
Churches are doing enough already
Wait. Really? Are Churches doing enough?
If we are doing enough then why are there still so many orphans waiting for families?
Let’s look at some facts: in Illinois alone 16,777 children are in foster care. Of those 3,154 are waiting to be adopted. Over 1,000 of these kids will age out of the system annually. Meanwhile, there are 13,097 churches in Illinois. Yes, you read that right. (source)
So, if 1 family out of every 4 churches in Illinois adopted one of these waiting children, there would be no more children waiting.
Take North Carolina: 2,191 children are waiting to be adopted and 17, 625 churches.
In NC it takes only one family out of every 8 churches willing to adopt just one of these children. If this happens, there would be no more children waiting or aging out of the foster care system. (Source)
Look… math isn’t my strongest subject, but even I can see how outrageous this is. We aren’t talking about every family adopting one child. We are talking about one family out of every 8 churches!
If we are doing enough then why are there over 100,000 orphans in the United States? Why are there up to 153 million orphans worldwide?
When we fail these children, when we fail to adopt, many of these kids will age out of the system they are in and end up on the streets. Every day, orphaned children lose their freedom through human trafficking and prostitution. Some might say that this is the role of the government. So, is it my calling, our calling, or the governments? “Yes, government justice systems have an absolutely vital role to play in combating human trafficking. But government simply can’t provide consistent relationships and love.
That’s where the Church must step in. If we fail, I suspect we will someday be judged most severely for having been strong in anti-trafficking advocacy, Facebook likes and wristbands…and yet weak in the one thing that mattered most for orphans and foster youth: consistent relationship—whether as foster parents, CASA volunteers, adoptive families or mentors.
The simple truth is that if we care about human trafficking, we need to care for orphans and foster youth.” (Source)
If we are doing enough why are there so many kids sold into human trafficking?
According to this statistic, there are over 20 million victims of human trafficking worldwide.
“26% of them are children, 55% are women and girls. In 2016, an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims, 86% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.” (source) It’s not just in the USA, this is worldwide. Kids without families are more likely to be exploited sexually, “Each year approximately 117,000 Ukrainians are trafficked. The majority of the victims are women and children. Most women fall victim through phony job offers and are later forced into prostitution. Most orphans fall victim because of the lack of protection and oversight of these children as they leave state institutions.” (source) It is our calling, my calling, to rescue the most vulnerable in society from those wishing to exploit them.
If we are doing enough then why are so many children dying from lack of food and nutrition?
A quick Google search shows that, “1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.” (source)
Heart Breaking Reality
And somehow in a weird mirage of slow-motion and all at once my heart breaks. I feel my spirit shattering into a million tiny pieces. My warm safe bubble just got colder and darker.
Yet, God calls us. He calls us to show His light to this dark and fallen world.
I think of my interview with Dr. Charles Mully. I asked him about living faith in action. He replied, “I would like for us to encourage all Christians that we are born to bear fruit. Of course, Jesus says that any tree that does not bear good fruit, it is better that it is cut and thrown to fire. And therefore, my advice is that as Christians we need to help each other, and especially those who are poor, children who are orphans, children who have been neglected by society, and children who are really helpless.”
No, friend, we aren’t doing enough. As long as there are children without parents, as long as there are people being sold into sex slavery, as long as we aren’t protecting the least of these. This isn’t enough. We can give many reasons for why we aren’t more involved. It’s hard, it’s risky, and a bit messy. Don’t fool yourself you have to be a bit daring and courageous. We all want to live a safe, comfy life. And this isn’t safe. But it is loving those in society who don’t have a home, who don’t have a family, the most vulnerable among us … And it is the call God has placed on all of us.
Tomorrow we will see one mom’s view of adoption.
Join us next week as we continue our series on the orphan crisis and our calling as believers.