David Platt wrote “Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.”
It’s true. Once you know an orphan’s name, see their faces, and hold them in your arms it’s easy to fall in love. To passionately fight for their rights to a family. It becomes even easier because “orphan care” is so in right now. You can buy a trendy t-shirt and donate to someone’s adoption and write a fancy blog decorated with cute baby pictures. You can move to Africa and open an orphanage. Fill your home with cute and cuddly kids and fulfill your dream of being a mother, all while claiming you are simply fulfilling God’s call to care for the orphans.
When we hear about a baby being abandoned in a sugar cane field we grieve.
When we learn about conditions at an orphanage we get angry.
When we hear about an adoption we rejoice.
But what about the families? Where are our tears of grief, our angry rants, and our joy for them?
When we hear about a family putting their child in an orphanage because no one offered them any other option we should grieve.
When we learn about children being taken from parents to be trafficked for international adoption we should get angry.
When we hear about a parent and child being reunited we should rejoice.
But instead people are flocking to this country, stealing children away from families, lying on paperwork, bribing officials, and trafficking kids out of this country. And the sickest part of it all is that they justify it all by saying they are obeying God’s command to care for the orphan.
Are we as the church partially to blame for this? When we responded to God’s command to care for the orphan did we focus too heavily on the adoption aspect? Has adoption become too cool and driven people to adopt for the wrong reasons? Have we neglected the widows God also commanded us to care for? Have we simply thrown ethics out the window in our attempt to adopt all those poor African babies?
My time in Uganda this summer has made me angry at my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Hearing horrific stories of birth mothers being lied to, children being stolen, and mothers signing their rights over because no one offered them any other options. And then meeting awesome adoptive parents who are adopting children who truly need it and are doing everything ethically and legally. Seeing how their adoptions are taking three times as long because they refuse to bribe and lie and how they are stuck achingly waiting for their children because of all the others who are not following the laws. It makes me so angry.
So tonight I’m going to grieve, and get angry, and rejoice for the orphans AND the families that are in this mess.
I am going to continue speaking out against the people trafficking children and speak up for the families involved. And I’m going to stand in awe of the patient families doing it the legal and ethical way, no matter how difficult that makes their adoptions.