Blogging is a funny thing in that it gives everyone the chance to stand up tall on their soap boxes and boldly declare I AM RIGHT ABOUT THIS AND ALL THE THINGS!
I say this with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek because, Hi! I’m a blogger.
That said, even I find myself weary of all the chatter online sometimes, but I find that the chatter only frustrates me when it pertains to subjects for which I feel a significant amount of passion.
Orphan care - For me, that’s a big one, and more and more I’m seeing posts that frustrate me.
Posts that take unnecessary digs at adoption, at Christians who work to make orphanages more comfortable, crop up now and again, and I find myself terribly annoyed at this idea that the “Christian Orphan Care Movement” is actually doing more harm than good for children in the world.
This attitude incites a sense of shame and guilt for those people who really just want to help. To be clear, it’s not the topic that I disagree with, it’s the attitude that families who want to adopt, or to help bless children in orphanages, are contributing to a world-wide problem that leaves me with a sour taste.
Here’s the thing – there is no one size fits all solution to the orphan crisis. In a perfect world, yes – all children would grow up inside their own families, their own countries, their own cultures. Absolutely, I believe that that is the ideal.
This world is not perfect, and the solution to children growing up in institutionalized care is convoluted. It will look different for every child, for every family, and for every country.
There are children all over the world who have been orphaned for a thousand different reasons. Some are orphaned by drugs and alcohol, some are simply abandoned. Some are orphaned by tragedy, others are orphaned because their physical needs are too great a burden. Some are orphaned because their culture and government dictates life in such a way that parents have little choice.
The reasons for a child to be left in an orphanage are far too great, and they each require different solutions. While I do not want to assume that adoption is right for every child in every orphanage, I do want to say to parents who are hoping to adopt, in the process to adopt, dream of adopting – you’re doing a good thing! You’re offering a child hope for a future outside the confines of the orphanage. Don’t ever feel guilty for that – ever.
To those who are working to restore children to families who simply couldn’t afford to raise their children – you’re doing a good thing! Thank you for working so hard to reunite children with their families. Don’t ever feel guilty for that – ever.
To those who are working to make orphanages more comfortable and livable – you’re doing a good thing! Providing a stable shelter, offering clothing and supplies, funding renovations and better equipment – these are all necessary to making sure that children inside orphanages are receiving the best they possibly can given their current circumstance. Don’t ever feel guilty for that – ever.
To those who host orphans for a brief period of time then send them back to their homes – you’re doing a good thing! Many of you will move forward to bring those children into your homes permanently. Others will love those children from afar, and give them the hope of knowing that they are loved and valued inside this world. Don’t ever feel guilty for that – ever.
I do believe that children orphaned by poverty are some of the most devastating, because I feel the heartache of a family who simply cannot afford to raise a child. This is a travesty, and in areas where this most often happens, let’s keep working together to help these families stay together.
Next week, a team of bloggers will head to Uganda to talk about the work of Compassion International. This is the 5-year anniversary of Compassion Bloggers, and it will undoubtably produce amazing words and images that will allow us to see what orphan prevention looks like. Because of their hard work, Compassion International is keeping families together, keeping children out of orphanages, and keeping communities in tact. I’ve seen them do this, and I’ve never been the same for it.
There are so many solutions to the orphan crisis that people are working on around the world, and I’m grateful for each one of them. We need to keep working together to defend the orphan, in whatever capacity that may look like. This isn’t a battle of Conservative Christian verses Liberal Christian and who has the best solution. Rather than continuing the argument about who is doing the best/worst job in defending the orphan, let’s work together to be part of the solution to orphan care (and prevention).