In March of this year we brought home our youngest son from Ethiopia. I’m a huge supporter of adoption. I earnestly wish more people would adopt. But lately, I’ve been reading about other potential solutions to the orphan crisis, particularly in Africa because that’s where we adopted. It has me thinking about my view on orphan care in general.
I read an article about a community model that focuses on keeping children in their families of origin. This model may have a grandmother, an aunt, or even an older sibling as the head of the household, with local resources in place to support them. Families would be encouraged not to place the children up for adoption after the death of the birth parents, but to step up and raise the children themselves.
“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, had denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8
Then I read about a ministry group that was introduced to children living at the edge of a slum. The orphanage had a leaky roof and raw sewage running through the yard, and the children had lost all hope of a better future. With the help of American sponsors, the ministry was able to build them a beautiful new compound outside of town in record time. Instead of wading through filth to get to a broken swing set and sleeping four to a bed on stained mattresses, the children are growing their own vegetables, attending school, and sleeping on soft beds in fresh pajamas.
“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.” Psalm 113:7
Another organization (several, actually) are training widows in income-producing trades so that they can feed and educate their children. Another family is providing day care in one of the poorest areas of the capital in Ethiopia so that mothers can go to work and know that their children are safe. Families are staying together and working for a better future.
“The Lord destroys the house of the proud, but He protects the widow’s territory.” Proverbs 15:25
Organizations are doing great work all over Ethiopia to place orphaned children into permanent families. These children may or may not have living family members, but they were given up for any one of a million reasons. The decision was made and these children are alone. Now, like our son, they will know the love of a mom and dad. They will have a future of birthday parties and bedtime stories.
“God places the lonely in families…” Psalm 68:6
Many children are not up for adoption, but still need tangible help with living and education costs. Ministries all over Africa are lining up sponsors so that these children can get the help they need, thereby providing for not only them, but their future families as well.
“Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.” Proverbs 28:27
I am convinced that there is no one way to care for widows and orphans. We serve a creative God, and as such there are as many ways to care for widows and orphans as there are people willing to do it.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18
Should we adopt a child or sponsor a child?
Should we support a program that rescues children or one that keeps families together?
Should an organization provide vocational training or meet immediate needs?
Orphan care is not either/or. It’s all of the above.
The need is great, but there are many of us, and that’s more than enough for God to work with!
I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. ~ Edward Everett Hale
Tiffany is mom of five (four homegrown and one from Ethiopia) trying to live for Christ every day while homeschooling her crew. She blogs at www.stuffandthingsblog.com