Are we helping orphans or creating them?
This is such a hard post to write because I am still processing. I will start by saying that I don’t have the answers, just the questions. One question that keeps coming up in my mind is whether we are helping orphans through international adoption or creating them. When we were in DRC (the fraud and legal issues aside), we kept asking whether we should adopt the children since it’s what the parents had chosen. Didn’t they have the right to choose to relinquish their rights just as parents in the US do?
It just didn’t sit right with us. We didn’t get into this to traffic children to the US. We got into this to help orphans. A child that has a parent or parents is not an orphan in my mind. This is where it gets tricky. The children we were trying to adopt were no doubt vulnerable children in a difficult situation, but orphans? No. This is why all those “147 million orphans” ads and similar statistics don’t sit well with me. I know it’s advertising and the point is not accuracy but shock and awe, but why isn’t 17.8 million orphans shocking enough (that’s the actual estimated number of children who have lost both parents according to UNICEF)?
It’s worrisome to me that these parents in DRC (and probably many like them) placed their children in an orphanage to be adopted to the US. This family has a home, a car, some members with jobs, food, health, and love. It’s even more worrisome to me that the orphanage accepted them given those known circumstances and that One World Adoption Services, Inc. advocated and endorsed their adoption.
OWAS touted their orphanage as the best in DRC – healthy, loved kids with the best access to food, medicine, care. We loved that about it and now it makes us sick. Why were those kids so healthy and loved? Is it because they came from families who loved them and were caring for them? It’s even worse that it’s what we wanted. We wanted perfectly healthy, beautiful, happy, well-adjusted kids. Um, that’s not generally what we should be seeking when we want to care for an orphan. I may be so bold as to say that there is no such thing. How could there be?
I can’t help but struggle with the question of what about the true orphans? The street kids, the sick kids, the kids with truly no one to care for them. Why aren’t they in the “best” orphanages? Why aren’t they being sought in droves by us Christians? Why aren’t they being adopted at the same rate as the healthy babies? Why are there waiting lists for healthy babies if there are 147 million orphans?
I’m not trying to judge. If anything, I judge myself. We got into this saying we wanted to be “all in” for Jesus and “all in” for the orphan…so long as we could get a beautiful, perfect, healthy, infant because we didn’t feel “called” to care for kids with “issues. (Apparently, we hadn’t yet read the Bible to know what our true calling is.)
If families with means can get their kids into orphanages and adopted to the US because their kids are young and healthy, that’s a grave injustice to the kids who will die on the streets alone. We need to do more than adopt. We need to do more than trust these agencies that make money when we accept a referral and are incentivized to “find” kids to meet our parameters (no matter what they say, that is what’s usually going on). We need to stand up for the least of these.
It’s an ugly world out there. People in desperate situations do desperate things. I don’t blame that family for wanting a “better life” for their children. Of course, they should be free to explore all options for their children. But, I also need to see what’s going on and say no when it crosses a line. If we, having the mind of Christ, don’t say no, who will?