Okay, let’s be honest.   The story I told you yesterday – the one about fish?

It wasn’t really a fish story.

Yeah, you thought there was something “fishy” about it.

That story was my attempt to illustrate how orphan care is very complex and very difficult.    Let me attempt to explain.

The Niagara Falls – that’s the period of time in a child’s life where they are relinquished by their biological family, spend time in a tough situation, in an unknown situation and are going through difficult times.   Many challenges, many uncertainties, almost always not enough – not enough good, not enough love, not enough food.

The fish – those are the children.

  • Some of them stay with their “leaders” (parents) and live a relatively ordinary life.
  • Some become separated from their leader and their family, go through the tough times (the Falls) and rebound from it rather well and go on to live relatively normal lives.
  • Some become separated from their leader (their biological family) and go through tough times (the Falls) and rebound – but they always bear scars from their trip over the falls but it’s something that they heal from – but it’s never totally gone.
  • Some become separated from their family, go through tough times and the damage, the abuse, the struggles they had leave them unable to heal and unable to cope and live a relatively normal and productive life.   The scars are just too deep for them to be able to function in a family setting.

There are basically three main roles in orphan care:

  • There are the people and organizations who bridge the gap when parents are going through rough times.    They help provide medical care, they provide job training, they provide support and assistance to someone who wants to keep their child(ren).   Go read “She said Yes” for one story about an organization that is doing that.
  • There are people who help the children who are “going over the falls.”   They are in that tough time, that difficult fall and they help them, help them heal, help them live, give them love.   Examples of these would be those who work in foster care, those who work in organizations that help get kids off the street and into a temporary home, adoption agencies and more.
  • There are people who help after the Falls.   The child(ren) have come through the transition and the tough times.   They, in many cases, are healing fine.   In many cases, they need substantial care to have a chance to heal well and live normal lives.  Examples of these would be adoptive families, therapists, counselors, teachers and those who help and support the families who have brought these kids into their families.

I want to make a couple of points very clear:

  • There are way too many kids in this world who are going “over the Falls.”   There are way too many kids in this world who are separated from their families and they would not have needed to be – if their family had had some help during a rough time in their lives.    The need is way greater than the resources on this part of orphan care.
  • Unfortunately, there will always be children who, through no fault of their own, go through those tough transitions and “go over the falls.”   While there must be guidelines and restrictions to make sure that the children who do weren’t “pushed” (aka trafficked) over the edge, the system could be much better at making sure, once we know that they weren’t pushed, that they get into a good situation as soon as possible.
  • Because there will always be children who lose their parents – for a variety of reasons – I am and will  always be an advocate for adoption.   There should never be a child without a family and there wouldn’t be if this was a perfect world.
  • If you look at the scenarios above for children, of the ones who end up separated from their biological family, a lot of them have substantial scars from that.   Our communities, our churches, our schools and organizations that are “supposed” to be caring for children don’t do nearly as good of a job with that as they should.

Is the answer to the orphan crisis “everyone should adopt?”   ABSOLUTELY NOT.   

Is the answer to the orphan crisis simple?

NO

Is the answer to the orphan crisis one particular thing?   Nope.

So what is the answer?

If everyone did something, if everyone looked at the various parts of the orphan care challenge and said, “I can help here.”

If everyone did actually help wherever their “here” is.

Then we can make a concerted “dent” in the problem.

I am.

and I will.    More on that later.

Will you?

Tom