November is a month which often finds people contemplating the theme of thankfulness. Bloggers and people on Facebook will often share one thing they are thankful for each day for the month. Right after Thanksgiving, the Christmas season picks up in full swing and that is a time when charitable giving is at its highest as people’s gratitude spills over in generosity to others.
November is also Adoption Awareness Month, and includes “Orphan Sunday,” a day when many Christian churches focus on how the church can care for orphans. Many people will be encouraged to consider adopting, or to support orphans in other ways such as helping other families to adopt or maybe by helping to provide financial support for an orphanage. You might have seen a graphic like this:
This graphic meets our idea of an orphan. A very young child who has lost both parents to disease, or maybe who was abandoned because she was a girl. But according to UNICEF, only 13 million of the “orphans” in the world have lost both parents and 95% are over the age of five. People will wait for years in order to adopt an orphan who is very young, particularly a girl, but those children are just the tip of the iceberg as far as the international orphan population.
What does that mean exactly that most orphans are older and still have a living parent? It means that the reason most children are available for international adoption is poverty, pure and simple. They have lost one parent due to disease or abandonment and the other cannot provide their child with food, or a place to live, so they make the difficult decision to relinquish their child.
The average orphan looks a lot like eight year old “Brecken” who was available for adoption through my agency at the time this post was written. When Brecken’s father abandoned his family, his mother was unable to care for him any longer. She is still alive. Maybe she comes to visit him in the orphanage, which is common in some countries. If someone adopts Brecken, she might be required to show up at court to verify that she consents to the adoption. Doesn’t that break your heart? No parent should have to give up their child because they don’t have enough money to buy food, or to provide them with medical care.
That is why I wanted to bring attention to the most important element of helping orphans–family preservation. Most people will never adopt a child, but everyone can help keep families together. One of the reasons we chose Holt International as our agency is because they also believe in family preservation. They offer a child sponsorship program as well, and many Holt families will continue to sponsor children after they adopt.
I hope that you will consider sponsoring a child through an organization such as Holt or Christian Foundation For Children and Aging (now known as Unbound). For $30 a month, you can help provide a child with their needs. Some receive supplemental food, clothing, an education, or other things specific to their family. A few years ago, we received a letter from a child we sponsor in the Philippines telling us that her family’s house had been destroyed during a hurricane, but thanks to our sponsorship CFCA had helped to find them new housing. Two years ago we also began sponsoring a boy in India. At first we received letters from his father or older brother thanking us, because now this boy was finally able to attend school for the first time. This past spring, he wrote to us himself, proud that he had learned to read and write well enough to send his own letter. We were so proud of him!
For those in the China adoption community, Love Without Boundaries’ Unity Fund is a powerful tool to keep families together. It is a hard reality that many of the children available for adoption in China were abandoned because their parents couldn’t give the child the medical care they needed. This heartbreaking photo essay shows devastated parents leaving their children at the “baby hatch” in Guangzhou. As one parent said “The sole purpose of us sending the child here is its survival. Life is above all things. We just hope our child will be able to survive here.” The Unity Fund helps parents to not have to choose between keeping their child and giving them the medical care that they need.
So in this season of thankfulness and giving, please consider sponsoring a child to keep a family together.