Thursday, March 4, 2010


Given the current (rightful) attention to the devastation in Haiti and Chile, there seems to be additional curiosity about various related topics such as orphan adoption and humanitarian efforts. On a number of occasions in the last few weeks, I have been asked where Andrew and/or Jadon were born; upon hearing that Ethiopia was their birthplace, the questioner has commented that they thought maybe they came from Haiti. For any interested readers, I wanted to share some general information about these topics.

Most adoptions, from start to finish, take at least 1 year to complete. (Our Ukrainian adoption in 2006 took about a year and a half. Our Ethiopian adoption process took almost 2 years.) Usually, the process of adopting from Haiti can take even longer, often up to three years. Many of the families you've probably heard about getting expedited visas for their children had already been well into this waiting time. No family that recently brought in children from Haiti just started the process. As the Haitian government focuses on meeting basic needs and recovering from the devastation of the earthquake, the acceptance of new adoption applications are currently on hold indefinitely.

As for the state of orphans around the world, here are some statistics for your consideration:

--The estimated number of orphans worldwide ranges from 140 million to 210 million. (To get a handle on this, consider that the current population of the United States is a little over 300 million.)

--There are 380,000 orphans in Haiti and that number may double due to the earthquake.

--There are approximately 500,000 orphans in the U.S., 20 million orphans in China, 5 million in Ethiopia, 4.5 million in the Congo, 2.5 million in Kenya, 2.5 million in Uganda, 1.3 million in Zimbabwe, 2.1 million in Afghanistan, 25 million in India, 1.5 million in Eastern Europe, and the list goes on and on...

--Every day, 5760 more children become orphans.

--Last year, in the United States, 12, 753 intercountry adoptions were completed. A comparable number of domestic infant adoptions may occur yearly. In addition, approximately 50,000 adoptions from the U.S. foster system occur each year. In Canada, less than 2000 international adoptions occur yearly. Domestic adoptions are managed provincially, but it is estimated that 1500-2000 occur across Canada each year.

--Admittedly, the statistics on the worldwide orphan crisis are quite mind-boggling. The complexity of the issues that lead to so many family-less children is enormous as well. I don’t mean to suggest that adoption answers all these concerns. However, I do feel strongly about the Christian call to care for orphans—the individual children who face life without the provisions only a family can offer. I only hope and pray that all the recent curiosity will translate into positive action for orphans around the world. (That would be you and me taking action!)

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1:17

The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked. Psalm 146:9

No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. John 14:18

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