Adoption and Orphans

The Bible speaks of the spiritual gifts God has given to each of us. In 1st Corinthians it
talks about gifts of wisdom, knowledge, miraculous powers, and prophecy. It also speaks
of the ways in which God has gifted each of us in other ways, such as musically,
artistically, or even financially. 

When we seek to discern the gifts we are given, often the
unfortunate conclusion many Christians make is that if God has not gifted us in a certain
area, then it absolves us of the responsibility of having to do those things. However, there are many things in the Bible that we are told to do, regardless of whether we are good at them or not, whether we enjoy them or not, or whether we want to or not -- things such as hospitality, evangelism, giving, singing praises and encouraging others. These are all things that some of us are clearly more gifted at than others, and yet, we clearly are ALL supposed to do these things.

One of the commands in this category is the command to care for orphans.
James 1:27 tells us that “Pure and faultless religion is this: to look after orphans and
widows in their distress.” This means you. This means me. This means everyone who
calls themselves Christian. So...  what does this look like?  Does this mean God has called everyone to adopt a child?
Not necessarily. But it does mean that we all have a responsibility to be aware, to care and to do something. It is not only for those with a “calling” or “passion” for the orphan anymore
than giving to the church is only for those with a calling or passion to give. God has unarguably commanded all Christians to respond to the plight of the orphan.

The first step is to be aware of the problem. There is
quite a bit of faulty and misleading information out
there, and many assumptions and skewed statistics.
As in everything, it is important to know the truth.

A 2008 U.S. government report estimated that 163
million children worldwide have lost a parent and
an estimated 18.3 million have lost both parents.
These are orphans of disease, poverty, war,
addiction, and abandonment. By 2010 the
number of children orphaned by AIDS was expected
to reach 20 million. Gone are the days when
Chinese orphanages were filled with healthy infant
girls abandoned due to the government’s one
child policy, and the social preference for boys.
Today, orphanages are filled with special needs
kids, many critically ill, with an estimated 98% of
newly abandoned children in China having serious
medical needs. Few orphanages are equipped or
able to provide the medical care, education, or
vocational services that these children need.

Most orphans over the age of four will never be
adopted. In the American foster care system,
49% of the children are over the age of 10 and
69% are over the age of 5. While some children
manage to survive being raised in an institution, it
is often with tragic results. Every 2.2 seconds an
orphan ages out of the system worldwide. In
Russia, 15% of those who age out commit suicide
by age 18, 60% of girls become prostitutes, and
70% of boys become criminals. And even in
America, a 2010 study reported in the NY Times
showed that of those who aged out of the foster
care system, by their mid-20’s less than half were
employed, 80% of males had been arrested.

These are the children who have been “fortunate”
enough to be taken into an institution. Although
it is impossible to acquire an accurate statistic, it is
estimated that as many as 150 million children
worldwide live and/or work on the streets.
Alarming percentages of these children use
psychoactive substances, are physically and
sexually abused, test positive for HIV and other
diseases, and are victims of violence and brutality.
An estimated 90% of orphans worldwide and 75%
of children in foster care in America are not legally
adoptable. The statistics are daunting. The
problem and the suffering is great.

The second step is to be aware of our responsibility. Yes, the
problem is great, but aren’t we each called to different causes
and passions? 
In some cases, yes. But in other cases God has clearly commanded
us all to be involved.  For example, aren't we all called to share Christ
with others?  Some of us may be more gifted at that than others, but
none of us are exempt. We are all called to encourage each other
and lift each other up. Some of us have  a God given gift for encouragement,
but can any of us can say that we do not have to be encouraging to others
because it is not our "calling"?  God has asked us all to give. Obviously
God has enabled some to be much more able to give than others. 
But none of us are so poor that God says we are excused from the command to give. 

Likewise, God has
clearly called us all to the plight of
the orphan. “Pure and faultless
religion is this: to look after
orphans and widows in their
distress..” James 1:27. The Good
Samaritan was not one who had a
“spiritual gift” for helping wounded
men, nor did he have a special
“calling” to help wounded men. He
merely did unto his neighbor as he
would have done unto himself, and
as God has called us all to do.
And if the Good Samaritan had
come upon another wounded man
the next day, he would not have
said, “I have done my share.
Someone else can help this one.”
As long as he was able to help, he
would keep helping -- even if if cost
him greatly -- until he
couldn’t help anymore. This is
what God expects of us. 

1.  The most important thing we can do is pray. Millions of orphans in the
world are neither institutionalized nor adoptable. These are children who
live on the streets or in situations where they are abused or neglected.
Pray for these precious children. This is their only hope.
There are those who have left everything to go and help these orphans.
Their commitment is remarkable. God has not called us all to go live in a
foreign country to feed and love orphans. But He has called us all to pray
for those who do. Their needs are great - emotionally, physically,
spiritually, and financially. Pray that God would richly supply all their
needs as they minister to “the least of these.”
Those who are adopting or fostering children need our prayers as well.
Adoption was God's idea and Satan hates it.  There are countless stories of those who have committed to adopting who have subsequently experienced the attacks of satan – attacks on their relationships, finances, vehicles, home, appliances, even their health. These families need our prayers to lift them up as they battle bureaucracy, discouragement, frustrations and doubts.  Please, pray for us.
2. There are many ways to encourage those who are adopting. Many times
these parents have already gone through years of infertility and have even
experienced the loss of children. 
They need encouragement as they wait. Whether
adopting domestically or internationally, the process, paperwork and
timeline of adoptions are grueling. Many adopting parents face grave
discouragement, criticism, frustration and even doubts. There are often few, if any,
people whom they can talk to who will care or be understanding. They need
our support and encouragement. Adopting parents do want to talk about
their child, even if they don’t know who the child is yet.
Adopting families need encouragement when they bring their child homeWhen a family brings home an adopted child, they are bringing home a child who already has a background of their own, often of neglect, abuse,
malnourishment, and medical needs. They are bringing home a child who has
been plucked from all they have ever known and brought to a place where
every person they see looks different, the language is different, the sights,
the sounds, even the smells are all new and  unfamiliar and frightening. Then
others often expect these children, in their immaturity, to somehow adjust
and appreciate their new situation and conform and comply. The adoptive
family has not only to deal with the adjustment of a new member to their
family, but also all the relational dynamics, the reaction of siblings, the
emotions, bonding and attachment of the new child, as well as considering
their medical, physical and educational needs of a child who is awake,
mobile, confused, and often speaking a different language. As the child exhibits
various behaviors, parents again may experience frustration, sadness,
discouragement or doubts. The first few months home with a child are the
most difficult. To add to this the disapproval, criticism, judgment, or merely the indifference of friends and family is overwhelming.

How can you encourage a family who has brought home a new child?
Celebrate: When a newborn joins a family, they are celebrated, with
showers and gifts, visits and congratulations. Adopted children, especially
when they are older, are rarely greeted or acknowledged by such things,
even though the needs are often even greater than they are for a newborn.
A child joining a family still has many physical needs of clothing, furniture,
car seats or school supplies. The adoptive family faces these needs having
already taken on a huge financial burden in bringing this child home in the
first place. Adoptive parents need to know that the addition to their family is
as acknowledged and celebrated as a newborn would be.
Cut them some slack:  Often people do not understand how depleting and
exhausting an adoption is, and they expect parents to immediately resume
life as normal. 

If You Can’t Say Something Nice: Many people are judgmental of those who
adopt. Adoptive parents endure ignorant and hurtful comments from
everyone from strangers in the supermarket, to closest friends and family.
Many times these comments are made right in front of our adopted children. I have
heard heartbreaking stories of grandparents who were not only judgmental
and unsupportive of their child adopting a child, but would also give gifts to
their biological grandchildren while shunning the adopted ones. If you have
a friend or relative who is obeying the Lord by adopting a child, say
something nice. Be encouraging and supportive. Do not refer to biological
children as “their own” children. Do not express disapproval or suggest that
they are in any way neglecting their other children. They are obeying God
and adopting a child into their family, just as God has adopted us into His.
Be patient: Frequently people are very judgmental of the behavior of newly
adopted children, who often have survived for years with less than optimum
supervision or training. As they adjust to their new family armed only with
their own immaturity and survival tactics, even the most compliant children
can be expected to not initially understand the behavior expected of them,
or to comply. Family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers all have their
opinions of how to deal with the misbehavior of children. While this advice is often inappropriate even with healthy, biological children, it is especially so with adopted
children. Those who have adopted a child have already had to go through various educational courses and seminars about adopting, attachment, and the behavior of adopted
children. Often the appropriate tactics to use do not make sense to other parents who have never dealt with these situations.  When you judge those who are dealing with these dynamics, in the words of Job you “speak of things you do not understand.” Cut them
some slack, and say something encouraging. 

3. Often when it comes to the topic of giving, people complain,
“I knew this was coming. You just want my money.” Contrarily,
others are relieved to think that they can simply throw money
at the cause and alleviate their responsibility. However, prayer
and encouragement are far more desperately and earnestly
desired than any financial support that anyone can give.
These are also the two things that we all are commanded to
do. God has not called everyone to give financially to help
orphans. But if you feel God is calling you to donate in some
way, there are many reputable organizations and a variety of
causes you can contribute to.
You can give to help the orphans of the world. There are
large, well-known organizations like World Vision and Feed
The Children who connect you with a specific child to support.
These organizations do help, but they also have a high
visibility, and some of them are high budget. When God
brings to my attention smaller organizations or individuals who
are giving sacrificially to help orphans of the world, I like to
support and advocate for them. There are four in particular
who we support and recommend that are effectively
ministering to orphans in the world today. Please see the links
You can give to help families adopt. If you do not feel God has
called you to adopt or foster a child, or to adopt again,
perhaps you are able to help others to adopt a child. There
are various agencies and organizations that raise money to
help families with the expenses of adopting. Please see the
links to the right above.

4.  Perhaps God is calling you to adopt or foster a child. Are
you willing to ask Him? Many people look at those who have
adopted, and are supportive and complimentary, but in no
way would consider the possibility of adopting a child
themselves, and they can give you a list of reasons why.
Adoption need not be "Plan B".  
Honestly ask God if He wants you to welcome a child into your family,
and carefully examine your objections and reasons. As I have advocated
for adoption over the years, I have found that many people’s
objections are based on their fears. To which I tell them that
God has not given to us a spirit of fear, and that we should
never make decisions based on fear
I have also heard people ask that God would give them a sign
if He wants them  to adopt. While I believe that God sometimes does bless us
with signs to direct us, I also tell these people that God does not give us signs to tell us to do something that we already know we are supposed to do.
Another common objection is that adding another child to the family
would take away from the children who are already there.
People commonly speak of putting so many children through
college. It seems unreasonable to reject the plight of an
orphan because you are concerned about a future we may
not even be here for, and an assumption of what God is
going to call your children to do. God cares for our children
far more than we ever could, and knows what they will
need. He said He would provide. Do we believe Him? It
has even been suggested that to adopt children, when you
already have several or are not sure how you will pay their
expenses, is irresponsible. An excellent response to this
accusation was written by Sarah Rebbavarapu or Sarah’s
Covenant homes. Click here to read her article. But to pull
one quote from the article: “I'll tell you what would have
been irresponsible of me: seeing the children suffer over
there and letting them remain that way when I know I could
do at least somewhat better.”
And finally, there are many organizations that you can visit
and would welcome your help. Consider a short term
mission trip. Explore the possibilities online, or contact a
mission group that you support to see if you could come visit
and help for a week or two. They would welcome your help
and encouragement, and you will never be the same. 

Amazima Ministries International
Amazima Ministries operates a
sponsorship program for 400 orphaned
children who are provided with education,
school supplies, 3 meals a day and
medical care, as well as spiritual
encouragement and Bible study program.
Mailing address for donations:
1694 Autumn Place,
Brentwood, TN 37027

Katie Davis is a remarkable young woman
who works with Amazima in Uganda
ministering to orphans. She is also raising
14 children whom she has adopted in
Uganda. She writes a fascinating, and
inspiring blog sharing her experiences and
Donna Laurie, Director of COAT
(Chinese Orphans Assistance
Team) at Eagles' Wings, CHINA
Today, orphanages are filled with special
needs kids, many critically ill, with an
estimated 98% of newly abandoned
children in China having serious medical
needs. Programs like Eagles Wings are the
onlyhope for these children to become
responsible and productive adults with a future
beyond the social welfare institute.
I know Donna personally from when we both
adopted children seven years ago.
Donna finally pursued a long time dream of
going to China to minister to special needs
orphans there. After several months, she
returned to America to make final
preparations to leave all she has known
and move to China permanently with her family
to direct Eagles Wings, a home for
special needs children in China. She will also
be personally fostering seven children
herself. Donna’s blog and online
information do not reflect the fact that she is
a strong Christian, and will be taking every
opportunity to minister to those she meets
in China. Due to the nature of the laws in
China, she cannot publicly post this
information, and must present her work as
strictly humanitarian in order to be allowed to
operate. Her heart is to be the hands
and feet of Christ, and minister to
the least of these.
Eagle's Wings - The Laurie Family
Mailing address for donations:
Global Development Group,
1314 Longwood Oaks Blvd.
Lakeland, FL 33811,
(specify “COAT / Eagles Wings,
project # J587)

Sarah's Covenant Homes,
Sarah’s Covenant Homes is part of a nonprofit
Christian organization called India Christian
Ministries, founded by James and
Sarah Rebbavarapu. Sarah began this
branch of their ministry to minister to orphans
and abandoned children with developmental
disabilities and neurological special needs,
providing them with love, a family environment,
spiritual nurture,
education, medical care, and therapies.
The home currently houses approximately 83
children. The interesting thing about
Sarah’s webpage, is that there are so
many different ways to help. There are
ways to donate financially, but there
are also usually listed various needs
that the Home has, from particular types
of clothing, to medical supplies, to
duffle bags. The things they need are
always changing. You can also
sponsora specific child, or a specific
child’s surgery.
Mailing address for donations:
India’s Hope,
P.O. Box 368,
Chinook, MT 59523

My connection to Sarah’s Covenant Homes
is through a woman who was our agency
contact during one of our adoptions.
Erin Hunlock eventually moved on from
that position and is currently living in India,
working at Sarah’s Covenant Home.
She also welcomes support for her work
at the Home, as her position is strictly

Kathy Gouker and Alice Wise
at the EBAC Orphanage in HAITI
Kathy and Alice have spent the
past 33 years running the
EBAC orphanage in Cap-Hatien, Haiti.
We personally know these ladies, and
have made several trips to Haiti to
visit the orphanage. The orphanage
houses approximately 65 children of
all ages. They also run a school for the
children at the orphanage, and participate
in ministering to the community
in many ways.

Tax-deductible donations for the
EBAC orphanage can be sent to:
Summit Baptist Church,
2851 Route 328,
Millerton, PA 16936

Tax-deductible donations for
Kathy and Alice’s personal support
can be sent to:
Dunbar Baptist Church,
22 First St.,
Dunbar, PA 15431.