Sunday, January 27, 2013

2 Years, 2 months, and 2 days

Right now, I am overflowing with thoughts and feelings and information about adoption.

There has been so much about adoption in the news and in our little world that I feel like I am just saturated with it.  Confused by it.  Saddened by it.  I feel like I'm carrying around this weight that is causing me to become (is it possible?!) even more passionate about adoption.

Adam and I made the decision to adopt in October 2010.  I have been seriously praying for "our family, whatever form that may take on" every single day since Thanksgiving of that year.  Those exact words.  Every single day.  794 times.  (As a little fun fact, I've been praying this prayer for 2 years, 2 months, and 2 days...weird, huh?)

I heard the words, "Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we are waiting for" on the radio the other day.  While we aren't waiting on an object, I think the premise is still the same.  Adoption is something so valuable to us that we are willing to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  For as long as we need to in order to make it happen.

So, part of my passion involves educating other people about adoption and the need for orphan care.

The statistics surrounding the exact number of orphans in the world are a little fuzzy.  Every agency that reports on these sorts of things has their own different criteria for figuring this data.  Some agencies don't count abandoned children or children who are sold/trafficked.  UNICEF's recent reports put the number at somewhere between 143 and 210 MILLION CHILDREN worldwide. 

Let me help to break this down for you (keeping in mind that these estimates are probably way low based on an inability to collect proper data)...

-Every day, 5,760 children become orphans (every. single. day.)

-Every year, over 14 million children "age out" of the system.  Aging out is the process of being "old enough" to no longer qualify for adoption or even for institutional care.  In the US, this age is 18.  In other countries, it's as low as 9.  I'll give you a minute to think of any 9-year-old that you've ever met and imagine that he or she "no longer qualifies" for a family. 

-Every 15 seconds, a child in Africa becomes an orphan due to AIDS. 

-Older orphans who "age out" are at an increased risk for abuse of various kinds, prostitution, suicide, slavery, becoming child soldiers, and exposure to AIDS and other diseases.

So, here's my commentary on all of that: 

1.  I. do. not. care. if there are 143 orphans or if there are 210 million or if there are 5 orphans.  All kids belong in families.  Period.

2.  I know that people get really upset about international adoption.  UNICEF actually doesn't endorse international adoption because they would prefer that orphans stay in their home country and be cared for by family in order to further reduce unnecessary trauma and loss.  I wholeheartedly agree.  But if we are not gonna support international adoption than we all need to STEP IT UP in regard to world missions to provide a support net for countries to be able to take care of their children and families.

3.  I'm sure my last point probably led some people to be like, "Well, we need to be taking care of the kids and families in our own country!"  Absolutely.  (I'm starting to think that perhaps we need to STEP IT UP in regard to domestic missions too...)  Adam and I are led to international adoption because we feel that the US has a minimum standard of care for orphans, and other countries simply do not.  Half of the world population lives on roughly $2.50 a day. (This could lead me into a whole different conversation about how the poorest Americans are still far wealthier than most of the world)  I would certainly hope that we are not so short-sighted in our American privilege that we value an American kid over a kid from a different country.  (Go back and review my first point.)

4.  I sit here, typing away, in the safety of my warm apartment, and I cry.  I cry because I'm just as guilty as everyone else for turning a blind eye to world problems that are larger than my little world.  I cry for my future children who, at one point, could have easily become a horrifying statistic.  I cry because I don't think Adam will go for bringing home 210 million orphans (though, I don't know...he's surprised me before...).  I cry because I see such a division between mommas in our world.  There are times that I just want to scream and shake people and be like, "Don't you get it!  Children are dying!  Children are alone!"  (Don't even get me started on people who equate pet adoption with human adoption!)  And I have to remind myself that this is our journey, and I can't expect everyone to "get it" or to join us or to start a journey of their own. 

5.  But, boy, if someone else did start a journey of their own...that might be one less orphan. 

 And I'd be good with that. 

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