I've been getting so many questions about adoption that I thought I would try to answer a few more here on the blog. Lots of questions about why are we adopting, why a child from overseas and not from here in the U.S., why it costs so much (I'll answer that one in the next post) and more. If you have any other questions for us then leave them in the comments and I'll try to answer.
There are an estimated 145 to 163 million orphans in the world today. That number includes children that have lost only one parent, children that have lost both parents, children living with relatives, and children that have been surrendered by their parents due to poverty or health complications (known as social orphans). Of these numbers an estimated 15 million children have lost both parents and are considered "double orphans." There are no good solid numbers on the number of children available for adoption in the world currently, but the overwhelming majority of them are children with special needs (although this could be something as simple as a benign birthmark) or older children.
Orphan care is changing in many places in the world, but there are still many children who will spend their lives in an orphanage or institution never knowing how it feels to belong to anyone and aging out of the system into a life of poverty, prostitution or crime.
In the Eastern European country where our kids are located the prospects for an un-adopted child are still bleak. Many changes have been made in recent years offering some children aging out of the system a chance at further education in a technical trade and a small stipend to live on. Still, their future isn't much brighter than it was a few years ago when the statistics said that when children "age out" in their country: 70% of boys become criminals, 60% of girls are lured into prostitution, and 10% commit suicide by age 18. (And these statistics only speak to children that don't have special needs- the story for children with special needs, such as Down Syndrome are heartbreaking.)
Children that are HIV+ face so many more obstacles. There is growing education on HIV in their country, but still the social stigma of the disease is even greater there than it is here. What is known is that our kids would be moved out of their "baby home" and into an institution by the age of 6. That is right- they would be institutionalized for having a virus- it is really a gut-wrenching thought for me.
While adoption is not the only answer for the world's orphan crisis we know that it is part of a multi-faceted answer to a multi-faceted problem. For our family we choose to adopt (give orphans a home- our own adoption and supporting the adoptions of others), offer direct orphan support (support the care of orphans in their native country), and support ways to end the cycle of poverty so families can stay healthy and children can stay with their parents (supplying clean water, supporting educational programs, building housing, etc...). I think that it is important to note that we don't respond out of guilt or obligation, but out of compassion and love.
We are certainly the blessed ones in this situation- what greater blessing could we ask for than precious son and daughter that will be joining our family!
"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Psalm 82:3-4
"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27