God calls children a reward, a heritage (Psalm 127:3). He created marriage and taught us the importance of a committed mother and father, raising children in one household. In James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.Psalm 68:5
Our Heavenly Father has clearly shown that fathers are key to the strength of their children. What’s now known as the “Father Effect” reveals just how important they are. Studies show children with a present, engaged father are less likely to drop out of school or go to jail. With a father in their lives, they are more likely to have a higher IQ and, subsequently, higher-paying jobs.
The Family Under Attack
The nuclear family has been under attack for quite some time. Since President Lyndon Johnson’s funding for The Great Society in the 1960s, America’s families have been in crisis.
President Johnson expanded funding for broken families, virtually incentivizing women to remain single mothers. There is a tremendous need to invest in the education and programs that build up the family unit which creates better chances for health and success across the board.
This is by no means an attack against single mothers or fathers. They are championing their children and doing everything possible on their own to fulfill the needs that are best ascribed to two-parent families. They are heroes. The need is for strong two-parent family units who can serve as the foundation for those in need.
Children In Need
Today, children pay the price for society’s changing views. Often, a mother or father make decisions for themselves with little regard for the outcome…a child. Addiction, violence, financial instability, or mental health problems are a few of the reasons children suffer at adults’ hands. Their needs are significant.
The 21st Century Orphan Tragedy
The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) states if orphans were a country of their own, the population would rank 9th in the world—ahead of Russia. The numbers are staggering.
- UNICEF estimates at least 153 million orphans worldwide, with possibly 10,000 children being added daily.
- Of those children, over 17.8 million are “double” orphans, meaning they have been deprived by both parents’ death.
- In addition, there are potentially 8 million children living in institutions, on the streets, being trafficked, or recruited into military groups.
- Reuters states that of those 8 million, 80% are not technically orphans. Their parents relinquish them due to poverty, illness, military conflicts, or have naively believed they were handing them over to people with good intentions.
- 75,000 survivors of the Rwandan genocide were orphaned in 1994 alone.
The American Foster Care System
The US has replaced orphanages with the foster care system. Children usually enter the system due to a family crisis. While in the foster care system, children can live with other relatives, a foster family, or a group home.
- The Dave Thomas Foundation estimates the number of children currently in some form of foster care to be around 443,000.
- Roughly 50% of the children spend less than a year in foster care, and nearly 40% spend between one to three years.
- Annually, approximately 20,000 teens “age out” of the system. After age 18, they can no longer receive assistance from the foster care system.
Women, faced with an unplanned pregnancy, often feel their first and only choice is abortion. Not being financially prepared for a child is the top reason. Due to the stigma of abortion, these women have no one to counsel with and rarely learn about the local pregnancy care centers in their area. For additional statistics regarding abortion in both the US and the world as a whole, visit The Fate of the Preborn.
- There are roughly 600 “health” clinics in the United States that perform or refer women for abortions.
- In contrast, the number of pregnancy care centers is over 2,400 nation-wide.
- Today, modern science gives a baby born at just 24 weeks an 80% survival rate if given specialized care. The line between viable and non-viable is narrowing.
What about poorer nations where adequate health care is less accessible? A country where a woman is legally allowed one child only? Or where the prospect of a decent wage to put food on the table is unthinkable. Does that make these children any less valued? Individually, we have to ask ourselves, “Is life, in all circumstances, valuable?”
There Are Solutions
Now is the time to recognize the massive devaluation of children in our world today. Children, born and unborn, are our most vulnerable members of society. They rely on us for their basic needs, protection, and, most of all, love and acceptance.
God sets the lonely in familiesPsalm 68:6
Every child deserves a forever family. Serving as a Christian foster care parent is an excellent way to minister to these children in need, however, every child needs a healthy forever home.
Adoption is an answer. In the book of Ephesians, God clearly marks us as his adopted children. He believes in the creation of a family through the act of adoption.
Adoption in the United States
Adoption laws are different in every state making the process difficult, especially if you are adopting from one state to another.
- Currently, there are over 110,000 children in the US foster care system available for adoption.
- The average age waiting for adoption is 7 and a half years.
- Approximately 40 families are waiting for every newborn that comes available.
- The total number of couples hoping to adopt is roughly 2 million in any given year. Many more would enter the process, but costs quickly become prohibitive.
Adopting a child from a foreign country is complicated and trying. Whether political or cultural, many countries are closed to adoption.
- Since 2005, the intercountry adoption rate has steadily declined by 72%.
- There were fewer than 3,000 adoptions in 2019.
- Although many countries feel it is in the child’s best interest to remain within their “birth culture,” studies have proven otherwise.
Changing Hearts and Minds About Adoption
The global community desperately needs to take a closer look at adoption. Our goal is to reframe adoption as the loving alternative it is. Resources need to be developed to offer young women pre- and post-adoption counseling. Both adopting couples and birth families must be counseled about building relationships with one another and not regarding the other as a threat.
Case studies that show women how 9 months of sacrifice leads to a lifetime of love and care for their child need to be presented. With 660,000 United States abortions each year, clearly, there is work to be done.
A 2019 Atlantic article states, “some women who are deciding between adoption and abortion find adoption to be more emotionally painful than abortion.” The abortion culture has done an excellent job convincing women it is less painful to “get rid of the problem” rather than choose adoption.
Why? We have done a poor job of educating churches, pregnancy care centers, physicians, and individuals about the benefits of adoption.
How You Can Be A Part
You can play a role in a global effort to change hearts and minds regarding the adoption option. Too many children languish in foster care, orphanages, and institutions. The Sanctity of Human Life includes every human, born and unborn. It is up to those who genuinely believe children are a gift from the Lord to speak up, educate, and proclaim adoption as a part of the solution.
Donate to adoption educational efforts. Become an adoption advocate in your community by speaking with church leaders, pregnancy care centers, and others. Together, we can find forever families for children born and unborn.