You see, in Kenya they have an orphan crisis. More than a million people live in the Kibera slums alone, including a large number of children whose parents died of AIDS. Because of the large number of orphans, and the West African court systems, it’s very difficult for these orphans to be adopted. Many of them, Boyer writes, will never have “forever homes.”
“My heart broke to hear this. After being in Kenya, I know that even those who want to adopt have little funds to do so. And because of the devastation of AIDS there could never be enough adults to adopt all the children left in the wake. The average life span in Africa is 47-years-old and most people live on $1.00 a day. Finding a forever home for every child in those circumstances is impossible.”
But when she began to ponder the U.S. adoption system, her sorrow grew even deeper.
“I felt the words exploding from my mouth. ‘We have a problem—a very big problem with adoption in our country too.’ And then I went on to explain.
‘In our country adoption is very easy. In Arkansas—the state I live in—there is a foster care system that helps children. If you are a good family, you can adopt children without much problem. You have to go to 30 hours of classes. You have to allow people interview you and come into your home, but otherwise adoption is free.
‘There are over 500 children, just in Arkansas, who are waiting for a forever family. Once you go through the training, and your home is approved, our government even pays you to provide foster care until the adoption is finalized. These children have medical care through this state program, and other needed resources, such as therapy, is provided for. In some cases the adoptive parents will continue to receive board payment when they adopt sibling groups or special needs kids, until the child is eighteen-years-old. There are support groups to help parents and children through the transition.
‘Unlike in Africa, where people live on little, in America we have plenty. Most people live in clean, safe homes and have vehicles. Education is free. In America, the problem with adoption isn’t that we have too little. It’s that we have too much, and we get comfortable. Comfort is even more a hindrance than poverty when it comes to caring for ‘the least of these.’’”
Rick Morton, adoptive father and author of Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care shares with Crosswalk,
“The number of orphaned and vulnerable children in the world today is staggering. UNICEF estimates that there are some 153 million orphans, but this number really fails to capture the actual scope of the crisis.”
Crosswalk author Felicia also has a heart for the poor and forgotten, and wants to find ways to put a dent in the “crisis” Morton of which Morton writes. A few suggestions she gives for making a difference include:
“Sponsor a child (or two or three) through Compassion, World Vision, or another reputable Christian organization. Many orphans are not true orphans, but abandoned children. Their parents cannot afford to feed them, so they leave them at an institution. Child sponsorship provides assistance to families and reduces the amount of orphans. You can help keep a family together by sponsoring one of their children with a small monthly contribution.
Foster a child. There are over 500,000 foster children in America. Children typically enter foster care because they have experienced abuse and/or neglect and need to be removed from their homes for their own protection. These children are in need of foster families who can care for them temporarily.
- Open Your Home to a Family in Crisis. 'Through Safe Families for Children (SFFC) a parent can arrange for their children to stay with an approved volunteer family while they address the overwhelming family issue facing them…The average length of a child’s stay is about six weeks; but it can range anywhere from two days to a year.' For example, a single mom could need assistance with her children if she is in an accident and requires surgery. Or temporarily homeless parents may need a safe place for their kids while they figure out their housing situation. There are many different situations and opportunities to assist these kids. Visit safe-families.org for more information."
What do you think? Does America’s affluence lull us into a false sense of optimism about our adoption and foster care systems? Have you ever considered becoming a foster or adoptive parent? Does your church offer a way for you to help the poorer members of your community? Get involved today!
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor of Crosswalk.com
Publication date: July 2, 2014