What if all children could have the chance to grow up in a loving, intact home? What if those who are bereft of father and mother through disease, poverty, famine, or war could be assured of a bed at night, a place at the table, and warm arms to hold them? What if even a small number of the worlds 153 million orphans could be welcomed into someones family?
These are questions posed by MARRI intern Lindsay Smith as she explores Adoption: What If. For many orphans (children who have lost their father, their mother, or both parents) around the world, the loss of their family signals an end to any kind of stable existence. In Russia, for instance, orphans living in state-run institutions are booted out once they reach age sixteen. These teenagers estimated to number around 10,000 must fend for themselves on the streets, often turning to crime or prostitution, and sometimes to suicide.
Closer to home, the picture is shockingly similar. According to an article from Relevant Magazine,
As of late 2010, more than 408,000 children were in the U.S. foster care system. Of those children, 107,011 were considered adoptablemeaning, their parents rights have been terminated or relinquished.
Every year, 20,000 to 30,000 kids age out of the foster care system. Of those, 50 percent will have dropped out of high school (compared with 8 to 9 percent of the general population). Sixty-two percent will be unemployed within 12 to 18 months. Half will be unemployed at 21 years of age. A quarter of them will be homeless within two years. Nearly 50 percent of females will have a child within 12 to 18 months. And 30 percent will be arrested between the ages of 18 and 21.
When compared to these tragic statistics, the evidence that Adoption Works Well should sound a clarion call to every family that is in a position to consider adoption. Adopted children experience positive outcomes in academics, health, relationships, and parent-child communication in some cases even better than children raised by their biological parents.
When we consider the nature of adoption, this should come as little surprise. Adoption is, in the purest sense, a divine act. Lindsay Smith explains,
Adoption in its truest form is a response to the love and gospel of Jesus Christ. We were adopted into His kingdom, so we in turn adopt children into our homes. Not just so they will have an earthly room, bed or siblings, but so they may have a chance to know about a Heavenly Father who is recklessly and passionately pursuing their adoption to Himself.
On Sunday, November 4th, churches all over the United States and the world will be celebrating Orphan Sunday. Started by the Christian Alliance for Orphans, this Sunday raises awareness for the plight of the orphan through local church services.
Whether or not you and your family are able to adopt a child (either domestically or internationally), consider other ways to support families who adopt and the agencies that walk them through the process. The Christian Alliance for Orphans offers numerous links for this purpose. Remember: what if even one more orphan could be welcomed into someones family?