How Orphan Sunday Began
Most families who've adopted are passionate about orphan care. Once you've seen, you can't un-see. Once you know, you can't pretend there aren't millions of kids going to sleep tonight without a Mommy to tuck them in.
Orphan Sunday is a way that many churches around the world raise awareness. Because so many people haven't seen. So many people only know in the academic sense, Oh, yes, 147 million orphans, how sad... So many people can't put a face on what that looks like.
Visiting my daughter's orphanage was an unforgetable experience. Seeing the people who cared for her, of course, was wonderful. The chance to thank them for taking good care of her. Meeting the volunteers who LOVED my little girl before I did was humbling. But seeing the other kids there... achingly sad. We didn't actually see all that many kids the day we were there. Most of them were in school. But we saw some. And I still wonder. Did Jing Jing get a family? That baby that was in the walker, is he/she doing well?
I think part of the problem is that 147 million is just too big a number for people to comprehend. Let's just take China, a country near and dear to my heart. There are hundreds and hundreds of orphanages in China. Almost every city has one or two. Some of those orphanages participate in international adoption and some do not. Out of the ones who DO, they do paperwork on the kids they think will be most likely to find families, or the kids they want most to get medical help, etc. They don't submit paperwork on every child.
Think about that for a minute. If you're taken to the "wrong" orphanage (one who doesn't do international adoptions) you're outta luck. If no one submits your paperwork, again, you're out of luck. But imagine you defeat the odds with both of those. Your paperwork gets done, and you get put on a list. Maybe they send your file to a specific agency. That agency has 3 months to find you a family. If they don't, your file gets put on The Big List. The big list comes out once a month. The "new" files are rifled through quickly, as agencies are seeking the children their clients want to be matched to: very young, almost perfect, baby girls. There's a feeding frenzy that goes after those premium files. Most of those files get locked the first night. The boys, the children with more than one special need, and the older kids? They usually wait on the list.
This child waited on the list.
Until one day, her new family came, and she got to start the process of learning to live in a family.
And she's doing an amazing job of it, if I do say so myself.
So. Anybody want to guess at how many other little kids JUST LIKE HANNAH are waiting on The List right this minute? Many of them old enough to see babies leave the orphanage and wonder if anyone will ever want them. Any guesses? After all, it's a portion of the total number of orphanages, and a portion of the files that actually get prepared, and a portion of the kids that don't get matched when the list first comes out... can't be that many, right?
Over 2,000 kids.
Hmm. That's still too many to wrap your brain around. More than double the number of your facebook friends. Okay, that's too many to really "get." How about 4?
What about these 4 little boys that are waiting for families to say yes to them?
A blood condition, or an extra thumb, or a repaired hernia, should not stand in the way of a child having a family. But the reality is, it does. Because every day people look at those files and say, "No, not that one."
I actually had people contact me after we accepted Hannah's file and tell me, "Oh, we looked at her, but...." But they weren't sure she would ever walk. But they didn't think they could handle her needs. But they were concerned about some aspect of her file. I'm not sure why they felt the need to tell me they didn't pick her. It certainly didn't serve to reassure us during our wait. And now that we know how amazing Hannah is? I can only feel that their loss was my gain. Because when they looked at this picture:
and said no, they missed out.
Caring for widows and orphans doesn't have to mean adopting, of course. But I think there are many people who could adopt that don't give it serious consideration. Like the video said, love is doing something. If you just want to write a check, that's fine, and there are worthy organizations doing good work that you can send your money to.
Do me a favor? Pray about what you could do to improve the life of an orphan.
Whether you donate:
Or host a child from overseas:
Or right here in your own backyard:
Or get involved in foster care:
Or commit to praying for orphans:
Or just offer support or respite to your friend or neighbor who is fostering/hosting/adopting, know that you can make a difference.