Saturday, November 12, 2016

NAM2016: One Less

It is estimated that there are over 140 million documented orphans in the world per UNICEF. Approximately half of the 19.5 million registered refugees in the world today are children. Although only one third of the world's population, children make up over half of those in the world living in extreme poverty. Over 250,000 children in the United States enter the foster care system every year (more than half are able to return to their families) with over 20,000 aging out of the system without adoption. There are approximately 415,000 children in the United States foster care system with approximately over 17,000 of them in IL. Over 104,000 children in the United States foster care system are waiting to be adopted.

That's a lot of numbers and statistics, but I'm married to an engineer. If you're interested in even more statistics, click here.

Orphan care wasn't something that Derek and I fully understood when we first decided to pursue adoption two years ago. Sure, adoption is a facet of orphan care--and a big one--there's no denying that. I think we've all heard the statistics "If there are x number of Christians in the world, and y number of orphans, then it is each Christian's duty to adopt so that there would be no more orphans."

But first, exactly, what is an orphan? What does an orphan look like? A simple google of the definition of the word brings the obvious answer of "a child who has lost both parents, or less commonly, one parent, to death." Yet, the term orphan is also defined as "a person that is without protective affiliation, sponsorship, etc."

"Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause." Isaiah 1:17

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me...'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. Matthew 25: 35-36, 40

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and probably catch some flak for saying this, but I disagree with the common statement that I've seen on Facebook and other social media that since God commands the care of orphans, every Christian needs to adopt--thus eliminating the need for orphan care. I will, however, say that every Christian is called to do something. Anything. We are not limited to foster care or adoption.

That can be child sponsorship.
That can be making hygiene kits to send to refugee children.
That can be adoption through foster care. 
That can be short term foster care.
That can be financial support to families who are doing any of those things--and yes, they need that support, and unless you have experienced it firsthand--more than you can know.
That can be using your gifts and abilities as a medical resource to answer questions about a child's file.
That can be respite care, or bringing a meal, or shopping for a family who just received a new foster placement.
That can be cleaning someone's house while they are traveling to bring their child home, or cleaning someone's house simply because they don't have the energy to do so while caring and bonding with new child.
That can be volunteering your time to serve at the local pregnancy crisis center.
That can be paying for the groceries of the teen mother in front of you with her newborn.
That can be volunteering your lunch hour to spend at an inner city school to share a meal with a student.
That can be providing emotional support to a family adjusting to a new child.
That can be supporting an organization that helps keep families together.

And yes, that can be adoption, both international and domestic.

You may have other ideas you can add to this list! Please do share! Derek and I chose to adopt from China. That's just where we felt led to serve. In the future, our hope and prayer is to go back for another son or daughter should that be what we're called to do. In the short term, we hope to be a resource to however God wants us to be used. This Orphan Sunday, Derek and I celebrate with children and families that have adopted to say there is "one less" orphan in the world. Please, join us in helping make other families be able to say there is one less--whether that's one less child going hungry, one less child feeling unsafe, or one less child without a forever family.
Baby Tanis November 2014

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