Examining Adoption Ethics: Part Three
by Jen Hatmaker on May 29th, 2013

This is the third installment in a series on adoption ethics, starting with Part 1 here, then Part 2 involving orphan care within adoption, and wrapping up today as we discuss orphan care outside of adoption.
 
Before we move on, let’s get our numbers straight. I mentioned in Part 2 the number we throw around most – 147 million orphans – doesn’t represent the orphan crisis correctly. There are an estimated 153 million kids who’ve lost only one parent (“single-orphaned”), so the term “orphan” is somewhat misleading. Around 18 million kids are double-orphans, yet still most of those are absorbed into extended families and local communities.
 
Unicef estimates around 2 million children in institutional care (some single-, some double-orphaned), although that number is admittedly low due to under-reporting and lack of reliable data from every country. Nearly half are in Central and Eastern Europe and neighboring Commonwealth of Independent States. Most of these kids are not adoptable, either because they live in a closed country or they lack the necessary documentation for international adoption. In the US, there are 104,000 children in foster care currently waiting for an adoptive home (parental rights severed), with another 300,000 or so needing temporary placement.
 
International adoption has steadily declined in recent years, with 8668 children adopted by Americans in 2012 (but 51,000 kids adopted through the foster system!). So even if we doubled the number of reported institutionalized kids to 4 million, absorbing some of the unreported children into the statistic, international adoption by US citizens provides permanent homes for 0.002% of them.
 
1 child out of every 461.
 
Those are terrible odds. Clearly, if we are truly concerned about orphan care, international adoption simply cannot be where we concentrate all our efforts. It leaves too many children behind. It isn’t even remotely comprehensive, nor does it affect the millions of families on the brink of poverty-induced relinquishment. It is very good news for a very small percentage of genuinely orphaned children, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of the crisis, will never address the root issues of disparity and oppression, and exists as a possible answer on the back end of a tragedy, not the front.
 
Therefore, we must turn our eyes to the orphaned (or nearly-orphaned) outside of adoption as well, as this is where the bulk of vulnerable children and families are located.
 
It is unacceptable that poverty makes orphans. That is a gross injustice at the root of these astronomical numbers. If you must relinquish your child because you cannot feed, educate, or care for him, the international community should rise up and wage war against that inequity. Every family deserves basic human rights, and I should not get to raise your child simply because I can feed him and you can’t.
With the kids at Amazima Ministries in Uganda (<--- LEGIT). Go, Katie Davis.

To that end, what better response than working to preserve (or reunite) first families where poverty or disempowerment is an orphan-maker? Preventing or repairing a tragedy of this magnitude is holy work. When we come alongside our brothers and sisters vulnerable to economic despair, empowering and equipping them to raise their own children, we partake in something sacred.
 
There are fundamental building blocks of community development that provide first families the tools to parent and thrive:
 
  • Prenatal/maternal health
  • Basic health care/immunizations
  • Clean water
  • Education for all kids, especially girls
  • Child sponsorship
  • Birth control/family planning education
  • Community education directed at men re: valuing women and children
  • Sustainable employment
  • Microfinance
  • Business training
  • Drying up the donation pipeline (gifts that help instead of hurt)
  • Suitable housing
  • Agricultural finance
  • Reforestation
  • Supporting local churches as distribution and development centers
 
The connective thread between these social constructs and orphans is monumental. Hear this: if you work toward any of the above-mentioned initiatives, you are absolutely protecting children, refusing to “grind the faces of the poor.” THIS COUNTS. For example, in Haiti last fall with Help One Now, Chris Marlow explained the underbelly of donations. After years of exporting subsidized US rice to alleviate hunger in Haiti, virtually all the local rice farmers were driven out of business and the entire economy was undermined. The leap to orphanhood is so short from there.
 
Help One Now approached the struggling rice farmers and asked if sponsoring their children would help them regain stable footing. Temporarily taking on the financial burden of school fees, uniforms, and two meals a day for their kids relieved the pressure, freed up income to rebuild, and allowed them to keep their families intact, as their children were on the brink of relinquishment, poverty the only catalyst.
 
A growing body of global research confirms that where women and children are valued and educated, poverty is mitigated. Throwing our weight behind initiatives that empower women and educate children is one the single most effective ways to affect the orphan crisis, as it lifts entire communities out of poverty, alters the ethos of regional patriarchy, and serves as orphan prevention. (If you haven’t read Half the Sky, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Their research behind the oppression and empowerment of women is a marvel.)
 
Business initiatives that train and employ vulnerable adults have clear and lasting implications for family preservation, too. With organizations like Noonday employing women in nine different countries, and TechnoServe which provides free business consulting services in developing countries, and Making Cents International, a nonprofit in Washington that creates entrepreneurship courses for the disadvantaged and trains locals to teach them, cycles of poverty are broken and the economic stimulus affects entire communities.
 
Do not even get me started on microfinance, easily one of the most important economic developments of our time. Small loans, sometimes as little as $50, providing capital for business development and entrepreneurship, has such impressive yield in developing countries, it has benefited hundreds of millions already. It works for one simple reason: the vast majority of the poor are willing and able to lift themselves from poverty if given the opportunity. Repayment rate: between 95-98%. Stunning.
 
Regular people like us can make as many loans through a trusted microfinance channel as we want. Brandon and I made a series of loans six years ago, every single one repaid, and we continue to reinvest the same money into new entrepreneurs. We recycle that money over and over, and not one recipient has ever defaulted. In The Poor Will Be Glad, the authors write: “Access to capital is the magic ingredient allowing even the poorest person to make better business choices. Microfinance simply makes good sense.” Some of the large networks of MFI’s include:
 
Accion International
FINCA International
Hope International
Opportunity International
Kiva
 
(The Chalmers Center for Economic Development provides resources and trains the church worldwide on how to minister to the poor without creating dependency through online courses, self-study material, and short-term classroom based training institutes held worldwide in local churches.)
 
What might just sound like community development actually has massive impact on the number of poverty-induced orphans created. These efforts fortify orphan prevention, and they can provide the impetus for family reunification. These initiatives lay the axe at the root of the tree, offering front-end solutions and sustainable enterprises without sacrificing dignity, children, or hope.
 
Closer to the bulls-eye, we can support organizations committed to reunification (if healthy and possible) for children already relinquished. Heroes like my friends Jimmy and Rachel Gross with No Ordinary Love Ministries in Ethiopia work tirelessly to this end. Or let’s look for organizations like ReUnite (with WACIA: Women and Children in Africa) who work toward orphan resettlement in Uganda. People are quietly working in every country to strengthen indigenous families, support birth parents, and protect children.

Domestically, I cannot recommend Safe Families for Children enough, which offers sanctuary to thousands of children, minimizing the risk for abuse or neglect and giving birth parents the time and tools they need to help their families thrive. The ultimate goal is to strengthen and support parents so they can become safe for their own children, fostering a close working relationships between Safe Families, the local church, the referring organization, and the birth parents.
 
Far from ideal, we must also consider bolstering the quality and structures of group homes and orphanages. Research makes it crystal clear that children thrive in families but suffer emotionally, cognitively, and physically in institutional settings. Ideally, every child should be in a family. Realistically, adoption and reunification do not even remotely reach far enough, so we must also consider best-case scenarios for children that will never be placed within a family.
 
For example, Help One Now is building Ferrier Village in Haiti, small, family-oriented homes for girls aging out of orphanages as young as 13 (just opened...read this story...so good). Each home has 3-4 girls and a house mom or house parents. The alternative is inevitable trafficking or homelessness. The Miracle Foundation renovates and restructures existing orphanages in rural India with measurable, scalable interventions that guard against corruption and focus on the needs of the whole child, transforming institutional orphanages into stable, loving, nurturing homes where children can thrive. With over 25 million estimated orphans in India and less than 1000 adopted last year, we simply must consider initiatives like The Miracle Foundation who are addressing the needs of the masses.
 
A crisis of this magnitude is going to take us all - all the mamas, all the daddies, all the countries, all the workers. Some of us will raise the money, some will raise awareness, and some will raise the kids. Certain families will rally from here, and other families will pack up and move to vulnerable countries and do the work. Some of us will be starters, some executers, some funders, some visionaries. We collectively must insist on helping and not hurting, refusing to discredit the weak links in the system and instead insist on shoring them up.
 
We have to dig deep and reject the notion that Americans know best, are best, are better. We have to listen to dissenting voices and carefully assess, prioritizing first families, first cultures, first countries whenever possible. We move forward as if our goal was no orphans ever, setting aside our agendas, however altruistic. Our standard operating procedure must always include Being Good News: good for children, good for birth mamas, good for the poor, good for other countries and cultures.
 
Within that framework, we’re all going to have to fight like hell together. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for “justice” translates: “to set right.” May we be a people who bravely commit to set the wrongs right, because being too poor to parent isn’t right. Being too sick to parent isn’t right. Being abandoned or abused isn’t right. Being discarded because of special needs or gender isn’t right. Being manipulated into relinquishment isn’t right. Wasting away unloved in an orphanage isn’t right. Being trapped in cycles of poverty isn’t right.
 
May we apply the same standards we insist on for our families to all families, unwilling to accept disparity and injustice. I’ll play my note and you’ll play yours, and by themselves, they’ll be sort of one-dimensional, but together they will create a song that sounds like freedom for the captives, liberty for the oppressed, and the beautiful sound of chains breaking everywhere.


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122 Comments

Kelly @ Love Well - May 29th, 2013 at 2:56 PM
Amen and amen, Jen Hatmaker. This is a good word and a sound work, and something much discussed at Orphan Summit this year. I think God is rising up this message to the Church around the world. I'm proud of you for doing the research (legit) and speaking truth. Eshet chayil, girlfriend!
Katherine - June 11th, 2013 at 8:03 PM
I absolutely loved and was gravely concerned at the same time after reading this segment of adoption ethics. HUGE applause is in order for Jen Hatmaker for raising the issue of addressing orphans in non-adoptive situations. This is so close to my heart as I have wrestled with adoption for awhile. I so wish to adopt but was led to think of how to use money to support children in their native settings/birth families instead. Selfishly, I want the children with me, but if I could support these children AND their families instead, then that is what I will do for now. We may still adopt in the future as that is up to God's leading & timing. Go Jen!!!
My concerns come in where, and I am agreeing on Jen's point that we can NOT assume we are superior or are trying to change the culture diversity of the people, we are so focused on educating or providing special programs to girls (a la World Vision who has some suspect methods versus other similar organizations), that we aren't providing special programs for boys too. Where are the special programs for boys? If there is a claimed generational problem in that society with women being oppressed, we need to help those boys be good dads, compassionate yet firm and strong men who stand up to fight for what is good. If the dad is around and encouraged and given meaningful work, he will be such an asset.
It is usually when men feel undervalued or have lost meaningful work that problems set in. If it becomes a matriarchal heavy society, the men become even more drifting.
Also, with birth control, you must tread carefully here. Many international 'health' programs have 'education' programs that include abortion, population control agendas, or devaluing of children in society.
Women, men, and children need to be valued. Not just one group over another.
Besides, it is not having several children that causes poverty. (Though very early marriage and early teen childbirth is a very sad problem. Most orphans do not come from that situation.)
It is the breakdown of marriage, the devaluing of both men and women, and more often than not a radical government that shifts resources away from the people to itself, and/or uses foreign aid as ransom or bait for innocent victims- these lead to poverty.
This is a problem particularly in Africa with radical Muslim extremist governments and groups.
(There are Muslims who want no part of that at all; but there is a real problem of extremists who desire to overtake resources and have a scorched earth policy, devalue the native tribes, Christians, etc., selling people into slavery and worse.). I recommend reading about the lost boys of the Sudan, in addition to the atrocities and terror other places in Africa. I have talkd with native Africans about it. Africa is very close to my heart.
The bottom line is- we must bring the gospel and rely on the power of the Word, while we responsibly help people (as Jen pointed out), and shed light on the corruption in governments and groups that have disabled the resources that belong to the people. We must love and pray for the enemies also.
Whatever it is we do, we cannot use non Jesus methods and get a Jesus result.
Amy T. - May 29th, 2013 at 2:58 PM
Yes, Yes, Yes!!! So glad you have a voice loud enough for many to hear.
Sarah Abbott - May 29th, 2013 at 3:01 PM
Brava, Jen. This series has been powerful, balanced and truly reflective of God's spirit. Thank you.
Molly Taylor - May 29th, 2013 at 3:05 PM
Well said again :) Love how you post so many places to help for real. We are having our Help One Now Garage Sale for Orphans this Saturday!!! Can't wait, so glad we can do something in our own little world that can make a measurable impact on vulnerable lives.
Lissa - May 29th, 2013 at 3:44 PM
Jen, I have really really appreciated this series. It was eye opening. Unfortunately, like all freshman courses, it left me with more questions than answers! I'd love it if you could offer any tips for a couple looking to adopt ethically. Are there specific types of adoptions or certain agencies or groups that stand out to you as particularly effective at doing their diligence? Any recommendations?
Brandon Rice - May 29th, 2013 at 3:47 PM
Jen,

Thanks for writing this. My husband and I lead our church's adoption, foster care and orphan ministry in Fort Worth, Texas. We have just signed ourselves to become a host family and our church to provide support Safe Families for Children program - such a great way to help families stay together.

Thank you for being a voice for those who have no voice!
Missionary - August 5th, 2013 at 4:13 PM
I am writing this as a missionary in an Eastern European country that - together with his wife - is taking orphaned children into their familiy:
Please, don't host. Just adopt. Too many of these kids come back traumatized from being hosted in the U.S.. They get way too much stimulation and develop (some form of) an attachment, in order to be sent back to their "old" life. Most of these kids get traumatized by their experience. For them, *being* in *any* family setting is already exhausting enough.

Also, for all who (despite the mentioned trauma's because of hosting) continue to host; I am pleading with you: DON'T OFFER THE CHILDREN ADOPTION while they are in the U.S.. Get your U.S. adoption paperwork in order, travel to the country they are from and offer them adoption while they are in their own "safe"/known environment. They will love you for persuing them, but they will develop more trauma's if ANYTHING in the process of adoption will take longer or - even worse - if you change your mind or find out that you can no longer persue adoption.

If you think the content of this message is shocking? You'd be surprised how many kids are now forced to deal with even more trauma, because of well intended Christian hosting or because of "proposed parents" who didn't follow through with their adoption. Out of a group of about 20 girls from one orphanage, we know over 7 kids who are going through these trauma's. What I am mentioning is *not* an exception. Honestly, it's more a rule of thumb.
Nancy - May 29th, 2013 at 3:51 PM
I love this article so much! It is about so much more than orphan care, too. These are the right things to do to help everyone--empowering, microfinance, giving dignity, etc. I am so happy to sing my one note!
Jennifer Adams - May 29th, 2013 at 3:53 PM
I've only recently had my heart turn toward adoption, and this has been great for me to think about. I'm praying for more specific direction on the role I'm to play as a part of The Body? Lots to think about!
Lindsey Vanzant - May 29th, 2013 at 3:56 PM
Jen,
I love love love this series. Thanks for giving some tangible steps that we can do from here with our time and our resources. My husband and I believe wholeheartedly in microfinance and teaching a man to fish rather than giving him a handout. There is a Christian organization based in Indiana that we support. They primarily work in Ghana but hope to expand as more people jump on board. They are legit and strive to EMPOWER.EQUIP. and ENCOURAGE the communities and people they work with. Check it out on facebook at Mission Resource or http://www.missionresource.org

Becca - May 29th, 2013 at 4:10 PM
I was with you until you mentioned Katie. Your very topic is adoption ethics and she has what her followers know as 'orphans' that she 'adopted' that have living parents that could care for them. When I worked with Canaan 2 summers ago she would bring some of her girls there to visit with their moms who worked for Papa Isaac. She could have done more to empower those moms and keep them together? She also doesn't meet the age requirements for the children she has foster care of (they are not adopted). According to Ugandan law, you have to be 25 years old and 21 years older than the child.
samantha - May 29th, 2013 at 10:43 PM
i have to assume you've speculated this, because you are, in fact, wrong on several accounts here. you do not know the full stories and you really should pause and examine your reasoning for publishing this publicly. also, there is a clause in Ugandan law that states that placement will be determined by the judge according to what they believe is in the best interest for the child.
no ministry is ever going to be perfect, but to slander one doing such amazing, awesome work seems quite unnecessary.
Becca - May 30th, 2013 at 1:56 AM
You can see below that one of her friends agreed that she would do things differently. I was not speculating or slandering. I explored the Ugandan law while I was there working with Canaan but thank you for the refresher.
Kelsey - May 29th, 2013 at 11:11 PM
Becca-

As someone who runs a center focused on family preservation for kids in the Jinja area (abidefamilycenter.org) and as a friend of Katie's, I think I can speak to your comment. From the outside in, I understand your concern. Believe me, I do.

But knowing Katie, I know that she has grown and matured a lot in this area, as we all have. We are all on a journey of figuring out how we can better serve and meet the needs of orphaned and vulnerable kiddos and their families. Like all of us, she has made mistakes along the way in life, ministry, etc.

Have you noticed that she has not taken in more children in the last few years? Is it because there are no longer children in need in Jinja? Of course not. The needs of children have not changed miraculously in the last few years, and if anything, she has MORE means to support MORE children if she still thought the same way she did 4/5 years ago.

She has understood that there are options outside of herself. I have lived in community with her and seen her help support and strengthen families at-risk. I have seen her welcome mother's in with sick children more times than I can count to help them get their children well and get back on their feet. THAT is family preservation. I have seen her advocate for children to be adopted within their communities. One little infant baby boy comes to mind who was adopted by an Amazima employee.

If you knew Katie, you would know that she has grown and matured in this area. Had you known her you would know that she works and aligns with what Jen has been speaking to in her series of posts on adoption ethics. I would love to see her write and reflect on what she has learned and how she has grown in this. How mid-twenties Katie is vastly different from 18/19 year old Katie. People listen to her and her voice is respected, it could be extremely powerful for her to share on this. I know she would not say that her girls are a mistake, I don't know that any adoptive parent would say that, but maybe knowing what she knows now, she would have done things differently in some of their cases.

-Kelsey
Becca - May 30th, 2013 at 2:05 AM
I have seen that she has not taken in any more. She had not had Patricia long. Papa Isaac said that the government would not allow her to foster more than she had but it is not because she did not try. Welcoming in sick people and taking care of other mothers is good but doesn't fix what she broke when she took all these girls in. I am glad she is now working ethically. I agree that she should share on this so others don't make the same mistakes in trying to help orphans. I will be making a donation to your ministry when I get paid in two weeks.
Kelsey - May 31st, 2013 at 9:57 AM
Becca-

Wow. Thank you !!

I think all of us can benefit from sharing on mistakes we've made and how we've learned we can do better.

I know for us, we first began working in resettlement of children from an orphanage. We created a sponsorship program to help reunite the kids with their natural families and had a social worker (Ugandan) hired to make home visits to check on how the children were adjusting back home. We realized that sponsorship wasn't a tool for empowerment and instead set it up so the families were continually dependent on us. I think we should always be asking the question 'What if we WERE NOT here', have we set up our programs so that the people we serve/work with have developed skills and resources they need outside of our organization? We learned a lot of what NOT to do in the way we first developed a program to help children back home with their families. Entering into family strengthening/preventative work, our goal is to empower families through income generating opportunities, among other services, so they can care for their children on their own. We don't want families in Uganda to rely on our 'aid' forever, we want to come alongside of them during a difficult time, not forever.

A lot of these conversations fall into the discussion of charity vs. social justice. I think our hearts were in the right place in how we developed the resettlement program, but we didn't know enough to decide how to best serve the multifaceted needs of kids living in orphanages who had families. Sponsorship is charity, it is of course better than a child living in an orphanage, but it is still charity. It is setting up a program whereby people will remain in constant need of your support, rather than working toward (and man, I know it is harder and messier) models that help the families earn higher income and develop the skills and resources they need to support their children without you.

-Kelsey
Terri - May 29th, 2013 at 4:14 PM
Children's Hope Chest does good work in this area too: http://www.hopechest.org/

Jasmine - May 29th, 2013 at 4:29 PM
No plug for awaa this time?
annie - May 29th, 2013 at 4:29 PM
Thanks for doing this series. I especially appreciate this post of the three. I live in Kenya and manage a foster care type home for young children that need some fighting for before they are placed in an orphanage for 18 long years. Fighting hard for family reunification has proven to be straight up exhausting and just hard. More than anything though I feel like the child and family both SO deserve for us to "die tryin" to keep them in the family they were knit into, if it's at all possible. Adoption isn't very big/easy here, so the alternative is almost always an institution. Thanks for raising your voice on behalf of these precious ones... especially the ones that do not have a chance for adoption.
Shannon - May 29th, 2013 at 4:51 PM
Annie, just wanted to say a big thank you for what you are trying to accomplish in Kenya. Bless you!!!
annie - May 29th, 2013 at 8:49 PM
thanks so much for taking the time to encourage!! means a lot.
Nicole B. - June 2nd, 2013 at 12:32 AM
Hi Annie,

I would be interested in hearing more about your organization if you are able write me at: nmbellows@yahoo.com. My family has lived in Kenya for 3.5 years and we are currently embarking on the long-term resident adoption process. I feel we should also concurrently be looking to support family preservation organizations here as well. I'd also appreciate any insight you might have on adoption "due diligence" here in Kenya with respect to ensuring an ethical adoption. Thanks!
Virginia - May 29th, 2013 at 4:30 PM
Jen,
Thank you for this series. As an adult that aged out of foster care and was not adopted, I thank you for your insight and accurate presentation of these sometimes difficult truths through your series.
Julie - May 29th, 2013 at 4:42 PM
Jen, I love that you have created a much needed dialogue and conversation about the much needed emphasis on reunification programs and birth mother care. It breaks my heart that so many woman are not able to care for their children.

My question though is only because I have not heard you talk about this, and I don't know where you stand on the issue. I'm curious about how you feel about the international adoption crisis that does truly exist. There are currently between 10-18 million double orphaned, abandoned, and relinquished children with absolutely no chance at reunification. Children whose families dissolved, not b/c of poverty or lack of provisions but because of death or abuse in the home. For many of them "reunification" means rejoining a family that has abused the child so severely that, to give perspective, the US Child Protective Services would remove the child from the home and terminate parental rights. What has really weighed heavily on me, is what is going to happen to those kids? It's true that after the US signed the Hague convention, international adoptions have dropped from 25,000 to what is at about 8,000 in 2012 and reducing every year. Yet there are at least 10 million children that SHOULD be adopted by a family whether in their home country or the US.

I'm curious what you believe the US government should do to increase the number children adopted that are truly eligible of being adopted and who will grow up in an orphanage if they are never united with a family. I believe the US is in the midst of political change as it relates to this adoption crisis, and has a lot of potential for change if everyone takes the time to express their concerns to the government. I believe the Hague had good intentions and was intended to unite more children with families, but it has not executed properly, decreased the number of children adopted without solving any of the problems they intended, and only failed children in orphanages miserably. I'm curious if you believe that we should also move people to take part in mobilizing a political change as one of the many solutions to this orphan crisis.

Again, I only ask b/c I have not heard you talk about this aspect of the problem yet. I truly admire you taking the stance on emphasizing the need for people to be mobilized to consider all aspects of the problem, to go into adoption with open eyes, and do everything in their power to ensure that the children adopted truly have no options for them in their home country first.
Kelsey - May 29th, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Julie- I'm curious where you get the numbers for 10-18 million children who are "abandoned or relinquished" ? Very seriously interested. If you have support you can link to, please post. In the "Stuck" documentary, which I imagine you've seen, they talk about around 10 million children living in institutional care throughout the world. These 10 million children are not all adoptable, in fact, the majority of children living in orphanages/institutional settings have relatives. Relatives that have not been offered the proper supportive services to give them a real shot at raising their own kids. Any way, would be interested to see where you're finding this. In terms of numbers the focus/attention of treatment to problem is just not adding up.
Julie - June 1st, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Thanks for your response. I love talking about this so I'm sorry this post is so long.

I'll start with the statistic question... First of all, I don't believe anyone has the number of adoptable/double orphaned children in the world perfectly. Every organization collecting these statistics has varying definitions for this number so I try not to get too hung up specifics. I kept that number broad b/c I've heard many different quotes between 10 and 18 million but I don't believe we will ever have this number perfect until a government does complete investigations on every child that exists in the world. But... to quote UNICEF here they quote that 13 million of the 132 million classified as orphans are in fact double orphaned: http://www.unicef.org/media/media_45279.html. But the fact that in subcommittee meeting of Foreign Assistance for Children in Adversity that took place on May 21, 2013 UNICEF employee Dr. Susan Bissell admitted that this number was only an estimate. http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/webcasts.cfm?method=webcasts.view&id=07d212ed-9305-4076-959e-79759beaf941.

What I want to get at, is that whether there are 1 million or 100 million children that will never be reunited with family, they should not be forgotten about. Either way, not nearly enough of them are finding families. The US has dropped from 25,000 adoptions in 2006 to 8,000 in 2012. This number is dropping and we are failing more and more kids. Those kids that need homes... however many of them exist. And these are kids, not numbers, and I hope their lives to be considered in this discussion as well, and how we can meet their needs to be considered as well. These kids are not even confined to the few countries that are active in international adoptions. They are displaced between countries that international adoptions are not available to them or only a very small number like... Iraq, India, Haiti, Chad, Brazil... These kids are everywhere, and its tragic that only kids living in some countries are allowed this option.

I have been exposed to the world of adoptions for over 10 years and spent a large amount of time in orphanages in countries that are no longer open to adoptions. I have returned to Guatemala year after year to see the same kids growing up and getting older with no other options available to them. But... there are also others that only spend a year or 2 in the orphanage and are returned to their mothers that have not gotten a more stable job but those are not the kids i'm talking about. For a child to be adopted they have multiple court dates and background checks and if family is discovered that are trying to get the child back they are returned to their family. But that still leaves millions that need a home because their permanent home no longer exists.

I have also spent a large amount of time with birth mothers of children who have been adopted by Americans. I have hand delivered photo albums of their child in America to birth mothers dying of HIV. I still to this day, cannot fathom how much JOY these women have. If that were me I would be in tears and heartbroken to not have my baby in my arms. I can't wrap my mind around the life one must be living where this is in fact the happiest, most reassuring situation for everyone. The more I think about it, the more I come to understand that the daily worry and of not knowing how they will feed their child, the guilt of knowing they may not be around much longer, the agony of not having any plans for their future, is more then they could handle. I don't believe any amount of supplies, or even money can solve ALL of their problems. Any money given to them would go to paying a nanny to care for their child because they may still have to work during they day in order to sustain their income and cannot care for their children personally. (I am aware that I'm just giving one example, but this scene has played out in front of me time and time again in different forms and different countries.) I WISH they did have options... programs available... social security... the peace of mind of knowing that there was plan for both them and their children that would give them surety that they will all be ok. But for so many, there isn't. Placing a child in the home of someone else relieves them of ALL of their daily worries and can finally rest assured that their child will live a happy life. And although many children have aunts and uncles that can be there for them temporarily but still so many end up back in orphanages b/c they do not have any permanent solutions. And the subject of extended relatives is an complicated topic b/c cultures of different countries must be considered. Uganda I believe tends to have a strong extended relative family base that helps provide for each other. But in other countries like Ethiopia, it is very common for men to reject the existing children of a new wife if the child was born to another man. If the child does continue to live in the home they are treated as a servant or worse... a slave. Many of these kids are sent to orphanages or relinquished and become available for adoption. I know this is a VERY complicated matter, and there is not one solution. Even if family "exists" it does not mean they are willing to parent the child or even care for them temporarily.

In an ideal world, I wish that that EVERY mother in the world could have a plethora of options and services available to them. A hotline they could call that would connect them to a counselor that will walk them through every step of their pregnancy. A Social Worker would explain all of their options and give them unbiased opinions of their choices available to them. They could adequately decide between parenting their child, helping them to re-connect with relatives that can help them, as well as gain an understanding of what it would mean to place the child for adoption. I wish that every mother was provided with social services that financially support a mother during the early stages of motherhood and had a social worker to walk side by side with them to make sure they were exploring all of their options and financial needs. But that's what women in America have and not realistic for every mother in the world.

So at some point we have to take a step back and take into consideration that in a country where a mother does not have ALL of these options and financial help... we cannot blame them for choosing the path of adoption because they know that everyone will be provided for and safe. We need to try to provide them with as many options as possible and not make the decision FOR them. If they are provided with the options of adoption, taking a 1 month supply of their basic needs for an indefinite amount of time, or placing their child in an orphanage temporarily until they can get back on their feet... they are intelligent enough to decide for themselves and should be allowed to make that decision. They understand their lives and needs better then we ever will and my dream is that they all could have the services, options, and help to be equipped to make the decision like we Americans are so fortunate to have.

So my question is, in world where so many do not have resources available to provide for their children, what can we do to enhance the options available to them to make the decision that is best for them? I dont believe its fair to exclude adoption as an option for a woman we have never met, and determine that monthly supplements are an ok alternate solution.

I bring all this up, b/c right now our government is in the process of determining new adoption laws. This summer the senate will vote on a bill that may make it easier for those children that so desperately need homes to be adopted by Americans. They are increasing the investigation process on the children that are being adopted and are doing more thorough interviews on all of the kids. I believe that with a stronger input from the US embassy in ensuring that there are truly no family members that will raise the child BEFORE they are placed with a family, there is no reason they cannot be adopted. I don't know if it's 1 million kids or 100 million kids, but each child needs an investigation on their specific situation before we so quickly determine them as "un-adoptable". And my wish is for those that have no family to take care of them to have the option of adoption. If you're interested in this law, I encourage you to watch this meeting: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/webcasts.cfm?method=webcasts.view&id=07d212ed-9305-4076-959e-79759beaf941. I am so encouraged by those that spoke and are giving a very multi-faceted view of the problem and are taking into consideration the complicated nature of culture and temporary crisis that can in fact be solved through US government intervention and enhance preservation of family.

I would encourage anyone that has any opinions about international adoptions, to take their energy in writing to their senators and representatives. Now is the time that laws are being formed to attempt to meet the needs of the kids, and they value and appreciate all of the input they can get. I don't claim to have the right answers and I'm learning SO much every day with every person I talk to with a perspective I have never considered before.
Traci Shafer - May 29th, 2013 at 5:21 PM
Jen, this is a great series. As a mama of 10 (5 bio and 5 almost-adopted-from-foster-care), I have to "play my note" here. As American Christians, we are too often concerned about protecting "ours"... our kids, our homes, our families, our finances. I get your passion for the international injustices. I'm so thankful (and disturbed) to have my eyes opened to such ridiculously heinous tragedies in the lives of children and their first families around the world.

You said something in Part 1 about "the kids we want" as opposed to "the kids there are". This is my heart's cry. For those of you out there who are considering stepping into the adoption arena... there are MANY children whose parental rights have been severed and are now waiting in the purgatory of foster care here in the United States. They are the children that "are". They are getting older each day. They have baggage. They are wounded and scarred. Some of them are full of anger and sass. They will NOT go back to their families. The damage has been done. No amount of wondering how the permanent separation could have been prevented will return them to their first families. The longer they wait, the less likely it is that they will ever have a "forever family'.

There is much to be done in the pursuit of preventing injustices here and around the world. But, my prayer is that we will reach out as the Church and gently draw into the folds of our families these children who "are". Then, as we assess the work to be done in prevention, we can train these young ones to be the hands an feet of Christ, instead of leaving them to exist in a temporary family that can be aged-out of at 18. I hope my tone is not misread. I LOVE foster parents who selflessly step up and care for children on a moment's notice. I am in no way trying to detract from the work of those who foster. I am trying to draw attention to the thousands of children who are told everyday that they are waiting for a "forever family" because they are in a temporary situation.

Thank you for writing this series, Jen. There is so much to be done, and I'm glad you're a strong and faithful voice in this battle for orphans and their families.
Name - May 29th, 2013 at 8:53 PM
It kind of sounds like you are saying that people in US should pursue fostering over international adoption. Scripture doesn't teach that one child has more value over another. Regardless if a family chooses to adopt a child here or overseas, I think people should allow people to follow what God has called them to do, rather than projecting what they feel they should do. Whether its adopt international, fostering, mentoring a fatherless child in their own community, everyone can do something.
Nikki - May 29th, 2013 at 9:18 PM
Also, nope, she's not saying that at all. And I say that as an English teacher. Re-read it.
Traci Shafer - May 29th, 2013 at 9:39 PM
Oh my, no. That's not what I'm saying at all. I agree that everyone should do as they are called by the Lord to do. I'm not advocating more fostering here, although that is a need as well. I'm simply encouraging more Christians to reach out to the fatherless in their communities because that is what is close to my heart. My husband and I have adopted 5 children out of the foster system, and there are many more children who are waiting. Everyone can do something and no child has more value over another. It does appear that there are more Christians who need to be called into action though, if the number of orphans remains so high.
Rachel - May 29th, 2013 at 10:05 PM
I think Traci's heart just happens to be for fostering. I'd say there is a danger that international adoption is maybe seen as the only way to adopt or whatever instead of going through the foster system...So maybe I'm misunderstanding but I think that's what she's pointing to. It doesn't seem like she would be stating one child is to be prioritized over another. Especially since Jen, who adopted two international kiddos, wrote the blog!
Nikki - May 29th, 2013 at 9:09 PM
I'd love to play my note next to yours! You commented on so many of the phrases that have been rolling around in my mind and heart. Our youngest one is almost-adopted-from-foster-care as well - Lord-willing, very soon the adoption will come to pass.

It is so big to bring a child in and to become their forever family. So big. So wonderful, so hard, so rewarding, so scary, so eternal.

With you, I want to encourage Mommas and Daddies to consider these kiddos in the foster care system. And I also want to ask all these smart and loving Christian parents reading these posts what should we be doing to help our system here?

Even as a licensed foster parent, I am somewhat overwhelmed at what we should do next as advocates for these waiting children and those coming in to care. Ideas? From becoming a CASA worker, political activist, whatever... and I'm very excited to learn more about Safe Families.

Even as we rejoice at becoming legally the family we already are in love and practice, I am convicted to speak more carefully and pray harder for this one's first Mommy and brothers and sisters and unknown father. It is a hard thing to always love those who've lived the part of the enemy in these life stories that get children to adoption. Our legal system is so adversarial here, and the foster parents are pitted against the bio family from the outset. We love and we pray and hope for miracles as we work with our hands and feet and heart to keep children safe and loved. Healing and resurrection takes time, and may no child pay the price while that time is passing.

Thanks, Jen for your big umbrella of much-needed discussion.
Traci Shafer - May 29th, 2013 at 9:48 PM
Nikki,

It's good to hear from a fellow adopter-from-foster-care. God bless you as you and your family move forward!
Jackie - May 30th, 2013 at 12:16 AM
With you also. Fost adopted 13 years ago, adding to 2 bio, 2 sibs. Their brother added to our family 1 year ago, foster. Now we have mom in picture. I have prayed for her for 13 years. Very hard as my now teens struggling with new bro and mom still in situation.
She called last week to talk to them because she was depressed as she misses her babies. They feel guilt, responsibility. Uggh
God can. Hope and lots of hard, lonely, hard.
Desperately dependant!

Nikki - May 30th, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Praying for you all even now!
Megan Ernst - May 30th, 2013 at 12:57 PM
Safe Families is an INCREDIBLE organization to work with! My husband and I have been with them for over 3 years now. I know for a fact, at least here locally (near Chicago area) that DCFS works with them a lot and has come to rely on Safe Families a lot to help with the increasing number of children that they are seeing. In so many cases, because the children were able to go into a Safe Family home while the parent(s) got help, the state taking custody was able to be avoided and the children were reunited with their family. In one of our cases, we still keep in touch with and help support a little girl and her mom. This relationship has done so much to bless my own family. I encourage everyone to look into Safe Families and the great work they do!
Heather - June 3rd, 2013 at 9:21 PM
Traci,

My husband and I were houseparents in a group home to teenage boys in the foster care / juvenile justice system. I wholeheartedly agree... we aren't prioritizing one group of kids over any other. But please please, wonderful Christian families, open your eyes to the children in your own churches, neighborhoods, schools who won't have a family to celebrate Christmas / birthdays / etc. with after their 18th birthday. We were less than 5 years old than some of our "boys" but they called us "mom & dad". These kids were 13 - 18 years old, lived in the USA, and had never had a new pair of shoes, a birthday party, or a Christmas present.

Boys are far, far more likely to have their parental rights relinquished here in the US. They're "too tough" to raise, "too much trouble," etc. It's just rubbish. I can very nearly guarantee you that there is a child in your church who is living day to day not knowing where he or she will live next month. Even if you aren't called to bring these children into your family, please support and encourage those who do. Please consider donating your time, resources, and skills to the families and facilities that care for these children.

All Christians are called to "learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless [and] plead the widow's case." (Is. 1:17 ESV) If we all lift together, we can carry any load.
Stephanie - July 6th, 2013 at 1:59 PM
Heather can you pm me at gritsgal98@aol.com? We have just relinquished custodial rights to 15 y/o naive American boy after having him in our home for 14 mos. would love to talk through this with someone who has walked this road with teenage boys.
Adrienne Terrebonne - May 29th, 2013 at 6:35 PM
Love! Thank you for bearing your heart and introducing so many ministries to me! I'm a mom to three beautiful kids, one who is adopted (domestic). My heart is for the orphans around the world.
Nicole - May 29th, 2013 at 6:47 PM
Jen - This was my favorite of the series as well! I am so glad that you have so many readers, hopefully you will open many folks eyes! One of the reasons we are adopting is political. We also believe very much in unification of families, educating girls/women, teaching new skills, proper health care and available birth control. I find that most of the time when I mention any of these topics to my fellow FB adopting Mamas - it goes completely unacknowledged. I do think they all want ethical adoptions, but I think we all need to open our eyes, think outside our own box, and try to fix the problems in these countries so that these families can sustain their own homes and have the same rights as any human: food, water, health, love, shelter.
Leslie - May 29th, 2013 at 6:59 PM
If anyone reading wants a link to help specifically in China, please consider Love Without Boundaries Unity Fund: http://www.lovewithoutboundaries.com/programs/medical/unity-fund/

Without help, these parents have two choices: watch their child suffer and often die from a medical condition or abandon their child.

I appreciate the article, but I wish you had provided more links. I provided this in a prior comment.
Beck Gambill - May 29th, 2013 at 7:18 PM
I'm so comforted and encouraged by this post. I'm traveling this July to work to this end in Serbia. Last year I visited a mental institution where children and adults are essentially institutionalized orphans and yet they really aren't orphans. I hope to meet with the staff of the institution, local Christians, and local officials to talk about supporting these disabled children and adults, and their families, better. I'll also be speaking at a seminar to local Christians, along with two Serbian women, one who works with abused and prostituted women, one who began a pregnancy care center. We hope to raise awareness about the need to protect and care for the vulnerable. I will be referring back to this post as I prepare to have those conversations! Because quite frankly I'm in over my head!
Ursula - May 29th, 2013 at 8:17 PM
Thank you. Such good thoughts. This is a conversation that needs to happen about domestic adoption as well. I say that as a mon who adopted domestically, so I'm not railing against anybody. But, the fact that so many domestic adoptions occur because poverty leads parents to place is heartbreaking and warrants some serious contemplation.
Cara - May 29th, 2013 at 8:18 PM
Headed to Ethiopia in February to examine orphan prevention and what that looks like for our future. I've been wondering why God withheld an adoption for us but I know that it looks more like living in ETH for 6 months at a time pouring into those sweet mommas. Teaching them a trade to keep those babies in their "tribe or village". You've started a much needed conversation and I am so very thankful. One Child Campaign and Bring Love In are pretty awesome as well as No Ordinary Love.
Britta - May 29th, 2013 at 8:24 PM
Thanks for sharing so many ways to help care for orphans! Another great ministry organization at work is Roblealto Bible Home In Costa Rica. In a series of homes, house parents foster up to 8-10 kids while parents get the education or assistance they need to overcome addiction, abuse, etc. Reunification is the result and it is so successful, the Costa Rican government has come alongside this Christian organization for how it supports families. There is a school on the grounds as well as a farm that helps to sustain and finance the programs and people can sponsor children in the program.
Flower Patch Farmgirl - May 29th, 2013 at 9:27 PM
Boom.

I LOVED what you shared about microfinance. I had no idea regular people could do that. Hello. We're all over that!
Alicia Carlson - May 29th, 2013 at 10:09 PM
My question is, what about the children relinquished by birth mothers because they (birth mothers) were too young, or mentally ill, had poor parenting skills, or chose not to single parent? I have 4 children, 3 of which are adopted from foster care, Russia, Ethiopia. My children were available for adoption because of these above reasons. My children were available for adoption because the extented families chose not to get involved.
I have two friends, one who adopted a baby from Eth. one who adopted a baby from Russia, whose birth mothers had poor parenting skills, were teenagers, and/or did NOT want to parent. An adoption plan was the responsible choice. No birth family came in to give care, money, or support.

Domestically, I have many, many friends who have fos-adopted kids who could not be reunited with bio families because the bio parents were not safe, mentally ill, abusing-and reunification was not in the best interests of the child. Immaturity, poor parenting skills, mental illness, and abuse are part of the reasons these children are placed in orphanages overseas. Poverty is not the sole reason a child is relinquished to an orphanage.

I am more of a both approaches thinker. Yes, help poverty stuck women and children get a footing by many of the ideas you suggested. BUT, do not condem and abandon the children who are in orphanages, who have bio families who are MIA, gone, or chose not to parent- to rot in institutions until they are kicked out at age of majority. That is salt in the wound. Rally for ethical adoption practices, partner with in-country, native led poverty prevention and women/children empowerment programs. But do not condem international adoption as evil. Period.

Jackie - May 29th, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Sigh, For 6 years I worked in West Africa building families for "double orphans" no parents living and no family able to add. Prior to that we adopted 2 CA state fost adopt (now they are 16 and 17). A year ago and back in the states,surprise, their brother, 13 was added as foster. What do you do? Now mom is making life challenging for all. I have prayed for her for 13 years. Guess God is not done but boy this is WORK!
Waiting for someone to write about how hard it is. How therapists and well meaning "nice" people who feel sorry for my kiddos make it harder for myself and hubby of 27 years. Miss our 2 bio kids who launched well. It was so "easy".
Just saying, there is more to this than statistics and opinions and data.
Desperately dependent, a perfect place to be! Hope never disappoints. Love never fails.
Julie - June 1st, 2013 at 8:50 PM
Alicia, I completely agree.
What I believe our goal should be as we navigate these waters, is to provide BOTH services to prepare a family to parent their children as well as the liberty to CHOOSE what is best for them and their families. I don't think we will ever completely understand what it's like to raise a child in a country where they do not have the same government financial support to help provide for them. The constant daily agony of worry about where the next meal will come from is more difficult than we will every know.

In addition, you are right on... Poverty is NOT the only reason a child is relinquished. Many of these mothers are dying of HIV and AIDS, and their last wish is for their child to be provided for once they are gone. Children with special needs are rejected by many families and chose not to raise them. And if the mother is truly so poor that they need to work all day long, they are not even around during the day to care for them. And too often, a child being raised by extended family and strangers is NOT treated with the love and support of that of a biological child. They are often treated as servants and slaves and it's not the same as extended family's care for a child in America. Just b/c family "exists" does not mean they will support the child. In these situations, no amount of money will solve these problems, and we cannot judge a birth mother that choses relinquishment and adoption (a permanent solution) over continue to struggle every day with temporary solutions that we cannot with complete certainty provide long term. We DO need to do everything in our power to help women be prepared to raise their children, but we cannot condemn adoptions in the process. Every woman in every country deserves ALL of these options and the decency to make the choice themselves and we should not make the decision for them based on what we think is best.

And what I don't think people realize is the many steps a child goes through before they reach the stage of being referred to a family for adoption. Most children in orphanages are not even considered for adoption! If they have any family that can take care of them or have plans of coming back they will never reach an adoption agency. Most of these birth mothers have chosen to relinquish their child regardless of whether they will be adopted or not. At the point of a family accepting a child's referral, I don't believe there is really anything a family can do for that birth mother that will change her mind.

The government is currently trying to reform the international adoption process through more thorough investigations, ethical procedures, and more children that are in a "grey area" of not having a permanent family to not be ignored but for the support they need to be provided for them. You can watch the Review of U.S. Foreign Assistance for Children in Adversity meeting from a couple weeks ago here. SUPER good and very encouraging. http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/webcasts.cfm?method=webcasts.view&id=07d212ed-9305-4076-959e-79759beaf941

But my passion lies with the kids where adoption is truly the ONLY solution for so many kids and I'm glad our government is attempting to do a better job of determining a childs needs and to do their best to provide a permanent solution, whatever that turns out to be.
christycanuck - May 29th, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Hi Alicia, I don't think she is condemning all international adoption as evil. I commend Jen for these posts. I am back to Ethiopia yearly to take my kids to visit their families. I learn lots every time I go. In my opinion, 80 % of Ethiopian families could either parent or provide good kinship care with support. Yet we get other parents' children -- at great cost to parents and children -- because we are the ones with money. In many country contexts, the majority of families are losing children to poverty. This needs to be talked about. This needs to be shouted about.
Marcia Baugh - May 30th, 2013 at 2:30 AM
I applaud you Jen, for your diligent research and accurate reporting of this crisis. The 'note' I add to the chorus from Uganda, is as an international adoptive parent AND USA domestic kinship adoptive GRAND-parent, ministering to orphans "outside of adoption" being raised by their widowed grandmothers.

In harmony, I am compelled, to speak up for the insertion of HEROIC Grandmothers in the "mamas...daddies...countries...and workers list. These precious (and widowed!) Senior Saints, that we work with here in Uganda, represent an vital default link in the family chain both internationally and domestically. The rising number of families being held together around the world with the glue of kinship care, tells us that we dare not leave them out of our vision,conversation and prayers concerning orphan care outside of adoption...

Pressing on in multi-dimensional song with you all !

http://www.thewayhomeafrica.com
Traci - May 30th, 2013 at 5:51 AM
Can you send me this on PDF I want to use this in my presentations. Thanks jslusarski@carolina.rr.com
Joel Trimble - May 30th, 2013 at 5:54 AM
As a 37 year full time missionary living in Haiti I appreciate your blog . From the Biblical standpoint alone if the church does what they are called to do they will be caring for the true orphans in their area by bringing them into homes and making them loved and accepted as an adoptee in their own culture and area of birth, not "selling" them to a country far away. I was abandoned at birth in Rochester New York and was later adopted locally by a couple that couldn't have children. Having been an adoptee and later adopted into the family of God through Jesus motivated me to sharing the Good News of the Gospel to everyone I came in contact with . To this day down here in Haiti I don't know of any family that is serving God needing to surrender their children because they can't care for them . Again thanks for your blog - Joel Trimble
Shari - May 30th, 2013 at 11:41 AM
I too love your deep compassion from Jesus. You are a voice for the voiceless.
My own inquiry is about China. What to do about the children there - many girls, and many with special needs, who are truly abandoned? Parents may never be found, as the legal system prohibits more than one child, and also abandonment. Are those children to be left in institutions in China or adopted internationally?
Patty - May 30th, 2013 at 3:17 PM
Special needs kids in China DO need to be adopted. One of the problems there is that children with special needs are often seen as cursed and they are abandoned because of it. Until the attitude of the entire country changes I think there will always be a need there, it is a reality that there is little hope for many of those kids because they aren't "perfect" in the eyes of the society they were born in. Unfortunately China is also feeding in to a corrupt system and the special needs kids are the ones losing out. Red flags to look for in the China program:
*Any healthy infant. There are plenty of people IN China that would adopt if there is a need, yes even the girls.
*Any healthy older child--if they were healthy and in the orphanage it is likely they would have been adopted a long time ago so this is a red flag that something is fishy.
*Healthy old older kids--pre-teen/teens....who have only been in the orphanage a year or two. *Especially boys that are healthy. China is sending kids here for education--promising birth families that the children will return, telling kids to lie about their history--their age, their family situation...threatening them to never ever tell the truth.
It is a complicated and ugly situation but ultimately--the special needs kids pay the highest price, they've been abandoned because they are "less than" and now even the orphanages are creating "orphans" for their programs because why should the special needs kids get that great opportunity? There are more than a thousand special needs kids on the waiting list right now and they are being passed over while agencies are pushing healthy older kids to be hosted or adopted.....when they most likely have family who would be perfectly able to care for them with a little extra assistance (or maybe even no assistance, they just want them to get the education!) Something must change!
rachel - May 30th, 2013 at 1:26 PM
Jen, this is fantastic. I critiqued your previous posts for lack of research. May I just say that this is a post par excellence! It may be the best post I've ever read on orphan care outside of adoption - which is a topic that needs illuminating. I love the way you broke the numbers down and linked for clarity. These numbers need to get out there. It's so important. Thank you and well done!
Sarah - May 30th, 2013 at 5:28 PM
Another great post from Jen Hatmaker. I'm curious about the microfinancing though. I (for the most part) am a believer in the Dave Ramsey idea about debt. I'm having a hard time with the theology of providing loans to people. I would rather give the money with no expectation of getting it back rather than put someone in debt...a place I used to be and am SO happy to be out of. But I also appreciate the idea of no handouts. Does anyone know of any place I can donate money that is then given as a business start up, probably through the form of a grant or something? I agree that helping parents to feed their children will go a long way to aiding the international orphan crises. Now that I have so much extra money coming in every month (thanks to the no debt!), I love giving some of it away and would love to help struggling economies.
Melissa - June 8th, 2013 at 3:36 PM
Scripture does speak to not remaining indebted to someone, and Dave Ramsey is great at helping people put that into practice, but Scripture is also very clear on valuing investment - look at the parable of the Talents - if you think of microfinancing as an investment in a business, that may change your perspective - the person accepting the loan is accepting capitol to build their business - not the same as consumeristic debt like credit card debt, wherein we consume whatever we borrowed to buy, before we ever pay for it....hope that helps....but not a bad idea to just give the money without an assumption of payback, like in a grant form for a deserving entrepreneur - sorry I don't know enough about a specific organization that is doing that really well right now - if someone else links to a good organization I will be joining you in giving!
Laura - May 30th, 2013 at 8:05 PM
Just incredible. Inspiring. I don't know if I will adopt, or if i will give, or both, but reading this gives a sense of legitimacy to however it is I will be caring for orphans. Thank you.
Laura - May 30th, 2013 at 8:20 PM
I'm a Dave Ramsey gal too. Prob not as black-and-white as he is, but I do hear what you are saying. I guess part of my question is- what happens to people who don't repay? Do they loose collateral or suffer other repercussions that would further set back their lives?, or is this ultimately a 'pay it forward' kind of thing where people are being given a grant and being asked to give it back when they can afford to so that others can benefit? Looking at it that second way I have no real hang ups... And in any case, it is done for the purpose of helping people (vs banks here where their #1 goal is $$$)and it sure seems to be working in the vast majority of cases.
Hannah - May 31st, 2013 at 10:56 AM
From what I know of microfinance, the vision is that looks more like a grant than a loan. The loan is only repaid when the small business has had time to get on its feet. It looks different in different organizations (and I know there have been some scandals too, so not all organizations are equal)--but the heart behind it is not one of profiteering. If you think about the alternative too--further poverty, hunger, lack of education, and the possibility of turning to illicit trades or loan sharks for help out--microfinance does seem to be a shrewd option. I know that Kiva is one of the more popular microfinance organizations (secular, I think). One I have heard good things about is HOPE International. http://www.hopeinternational.org/about-hope/

Hope that helps!
Amy in Seattle - May 31st, 2013 at 12:27 AM
You know Jen, I landed on your blog because of your mind-blowingly hilarious post "Worst End of Year Mom Ever". I thought "man, this woman can write", so I decided to check out your other postings. Turns out, you are not only funny, you are really thoughtful and hard-working, and I wanted to let you know how inspiring this stumble upon was for me this evening. I'm not a church goer (forgive me, I'm spiritual but got knocked around by the church one too many times), but it's people like you that make me wish I was. I'm going to see what I can do to shift some of our charitable contributions to a continual micro loan plan based on this blog.

Thank you for taking time out of your CRAZY mommy life to write....it's making impact on people like me whom you'll never meet.
Dana - May 31st, 2013 at 12:42 PM
This is AWESOME! YOU are awesome! Thanks for making this mom of three (21,18, and 16) and teacher laugh to the point of tears! Finish as strong as your hearts, minds, and bodies will allow, brave ones!
Myrrie - May 31st, 2013 at 2:38 PM
I loved the blog and all the great ideas from moms, teachers, etc. I have been a homeschooling mom for 20 yrs. I am now helping my single parent daughter with 4 young ones and my bonus baby 13 is still being homeschooled/k-12. I am shooting to be doing demonstration teaching in Jan 2014. I have been studying to become a special edu. teacher Mild-Moderate, elementary school level. (Yes, all my homeschool friends have given me a hard time about desertion).
I think the main point is that we all have some days that we are tired, burnt out, and need to lighten up. We all also want the best for our children and we are working toward that end, even if the financial needs get in the way. So, have faith. Look to a higher power, and tie a knot in the end of the rope to hang onto. I do remember homework when I was young--or maybe I was too slow to get it done at school. Some of the changes in the school system are good, some are not so good--but we are all doing our best! Thankfully, school finished here yesterday! Now, to concentrate on my college classes!
I think the blog writing was probably very therapeutic for you--I believe it was helpful to all that read it. And to the complainers...When I worked with the elderly---we had a special wall hanging "The more you complain, the longer God lets you live!"
Juli Evans - May 31st, 2013 at 2:47 PM
I had to also mention another amazing organization in Ethiopia called Bring Love In. Levi creates families by bringing together orphans and widows. If you have a chance look it up. Thank you so much for this series. We all need to think outside the box. We all need to think bigger! Together.
Byfields - May 31st, 2013 at 4:38 PM
I couldn't even read all of this. I am so tired of parents complaining about what the school asks them to do. No one ever said that a free public education relieves a parent of their responsibility to educate their own children. YOU are responsible for your own children. If that is difficult, you should have thought about it before you enjoyed making them and thinking "Oh I just love babies." Babies grow into children with many needs and teens grow even more with many more needs! Parents should be the most important people in their children's lives. Parents should provide the primary guidance and teaching for their own children. If you have relinquished that RESPONSABILITY then don't complain when teachers have to pick up YOUR slack.
Barbara Joubert - May 31st, 2013 at 6:34 PM
Thank you Jen for the shout out! The Miracle Foundation is grateful to have had you along on our 13-year journey (almost since the beginning!) and your recognition of our commitment to revolutionize orphanages around the world means the world to us. We are proving that major improvements and measurable results can be realized in even the most broken orphanages using our NEST method. Keep up the thought-provoking writing Jen, there are 146million kids to reach. Cheers from all of us at The Miracle Foundation, Austin!
LM - May 31st, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Add me to the list of adoptive mothers who thank you for such a thoughtful series. You opened a long overdue, important dialogue. It is high time we have this conversation.

Similarly, your list of tools includes another "elephant in the room". It may be the single most useful tool; without it no gains will ever be made. It gets traded away by politicians who don't think twice about using poor women as pawns: birth control.

Let's be brave enough to offer our sisters in the third world that which we enjoy. The medical advantage offering control not just over their own reproduction, but over poverty as well as social and economic injustice.

And, please let's not play the "but I don't believe in it" or "but I don't use it" game. If you're tapping away at your computer, or reading as I tap away at mine, you KNOW it's always there: it's a chance to escape poverty, to feed the children you already have, to NOT DIE and leave your children...orphans.
Ann - June 1st, 2013 at 8:05 AM
Hello, I'm also adding comments as an adoptive mom. Thanks for being willing to address the hard issues. I so agree on the idea that there is so much more to help with orphan care. We currently live and work with orphans in the Dominican Republic. Our organization is another one that deals with these issues. We have children's homes (with national parents and 8 to 10 children in a home) but we also provide care centers that help children still living at home, attend school, have meals, and afternoon tutoring. It is a combination of many different things to address the issue. Our organization is Kids Alive International.
Kristen - June 1st, 2013 at 10:59 AM
I have really enjoyed this series as my husband and i are exploring adoption now. I love all that you have to say and am researching much about justice for the orphan and those who are oppressed/disadvantaged economically.

I have one question and this is not a criticism, but we have 4 sponsored kids through World Vision and have done a couple of micro-loans through them as well. Was curious why they were not mentioned for their efforts which I believe help keep first families together? I know you can't mention all of the great organizations, but wanted to give them a plug for their expertise and efforts in eradicating poverty!
Kelsey - June 1st, 2013 at 8:57 PM
Sponsorship doesn't eradicate poverty.
Sam - June 2nd, 2013 at 7:55 PM
World Vision? Have you visited your sponsored children? World Vision sends them to government schools (free) so what you're paying is administrative fees to pay their employees to ride around in brand new vehicles. Visit any country they work in and as the people the truth. I used to work as an advisor for their sponsorship program here in country.
Laura - June 1st, 2013 at 3:54 PM
Another great Christian micro finance organization is Five Talents. I have known several folks locally who have done great work with and through them.

http://www.fivetalents.org/
Rebecca - June 1st, 2013 at 7:50 PM
Sometimes I think too much obsession over detail leaves many to do absolutely nothing. They think, "there's so much need, and I'm just one person... How can I really make a difference". Whether or not you adopt or care for orphans near or far is neither here nor there. Just do it! Sheesh! :)
Valerie Joy Anderson - June 1st, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Years ago, when I had more time and energy (in other words, when I was young and before I was a mother) I served on a missions committee at my church. Turns out, committees really aren't my thing but I learned a lot about missions, the most important being: for a follower of Christ, there is no "opt out" clause. You either 'go', or you 'send'. You do it yourself or you support someone who does, through prayer, friendship, tangible helps or finances. Having been through the adoption process, I now see that the same principle applies to the care of orphans: there is no "opt out" clause. I have been faithfully preaching that message ever since. I see now, however, that there are so many, MANY ways to be obedient to this call! You've got me dreaming, Jen, and dialoguing with God. My mind is racing and my heart is buzzing with the possibilities. For right now, I am commissioned to raising my son, and believe me, that is ALL I can handle, but one day when I have time, energy and, God willing, some financial freedom... well, I'm going to need to have a few more conversations with God (and anybody else who will listen). I can't wait to love on some of those kids, to help some of those families and to empower some of those mamas. In the mean time, I'm pretty sure I have 50 bucks I could loan to a small but promising enterprise.
Tara - June 2nd, 2013 at 3:38 PM
I hear you, sister! My mind is buzzing, as well! We just completed our international adoption three months ago and just started sponsoring a child in Ethiopa and a ministry in Cambodia, but I think that is paltry compared to the need! I am dreaming about the possibilities, too. :)
Jen T. - June 2nd, 2013 at 5:12 PM
I'm sure it was emotionally taxing to sift through all the data and write these posts on such an emotionally charged issue. Thanks for "going there" and for doing it with love and grace. It has greatly impacted me and will affect the way I communicate to my own circle of influence about orphan care.
Julie - June 2nd, 2013 at 8:18 PM
Another factor to consider is that in some cultures, the birth mother actually has little to no say in whether or not her child will be taken away. Such decisions are made by the husband, w/out consulting the mother.
Jung Sun - June 3rd, 2013 at 11:47 AM
Hello Jen, wonderful series! This is very much needed to be heard among the Christian community. It is disheartening to hear fellow Christians refusing to acknowledge that there is something seriously wrong with the way adoption is done-and to do something about it, but don't. I'm an adult international adoptee, and it's tough going into church environments where there's such fervor for adoption. Thank you for being honest and passionate about adoption reform and family preservation. Many many blessings in your work.
John McCollum, Executive Director, Asia's Hope - June 3rd, 2013 at 11:58 AM
I'm the director of Asia's Hope, an orphan care organization that works in Cambodia, Thailand and India.

I wrote about some of the problems, questions and criticisms facing organizations like ours on our website.

http://asiashope.org/directors-blog/2012/2/27/tough-questions-about-orphanages.html
mf - June 3rd, 2013 at 6:12 PM
thanks for expressing love and commitment to FAMILIES!!! caring for the mother and father as much as you care for the child. THAT is the essence of loving a child. orphan prevention. that should be the goal. wonderful, wonderful post. thank you.
Lindsay - June 3rd, 2013 at 9:13 PM
Thank you for shining some light on this topic for me. I'm not an adoptive parent, but it has been weighing on my mind. I now have a better realization that I can do more to stand in the gap for these children even if that means God doesn't lead us to adopt. This series has helped me ask myself, " what can I do now?"
Heather - June 3rd, 2013 at 11:51 PM
I have 3 adopted kids- 2 from Guatemala and one from Ethiopia. I am not sure what to think about all this. The thoughts that the agencys could have lied to us is awful to think about. I know for a fact that sometimes the mothers just don't want to parent- but at least the children aren't aborted. How many of these "adopted" kids would have been aborted if the mother's would have had the means to abort? No one seems to go there. There are so many abortions in our country- or we would also have a bigger orphan crisis, too. I agree that many of the families (of the babies adopted) might want to raise the kids if they had the means to do it. But - then again in the USA these women getting abortions also know that a family member would raise the child if they were given the chance- yet they still get the abortions-(so explain that one). Money doesn't solve it all. I know we all can do more- and it isn't optional for us as Christians to take care of orphans and widows.
LM - June 6th, 2013 at 7:05 PM
Wow. That you believe what you wrote just blows my mind.

I repeat. There is only one thing prevents abortion AND unwanted children. Can you guess what that might be?
It is complete bullshit that women IN ANY COUNTRY do not raise their children because they cannot afford it. Offer birth control and education. Have a safety net in place in place for people rather than corporations. End of problem.

Roll call: how many you are just fine with their U.S. Rep. voting to eliminate food stamps? How many of you saw the documentary, "A Place at the Table"?
C'mon, people. Show of hands.
Katherine - June 11th, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Where you say 'there is only one thing that prevents abortion and unwanted children', that one thing would be sex! Specifically, sex outside marriage. NOT birth control, which has a failure rate.
People learning that they and any offspring have value, and that they should wait for marriage is what is best for children. I'm not saying whether married people should or shouldn't use birth control.
I am saying, women shouldn't make their bodies hostile to hosting new life, and men and women should welcome new life. If a couple truly has their eyes on Christ, He will lead them through whatever children He allows to come their way. If people make good choices before and after they get married, they will be able to care for children. A bunch of studies essentially boil it down to 3 factors: if you have a high school degree, are 20 yrs. old or more, and are married, the chances of the children living in poverty is very slim.
LM - June 20th, 2013 at 7:44 AM
We're talking about 3rd world poverty here.
Your abstinence only mindset has been proven time and time again to NOT work here in the U.S. and has proven fatal for women in 3rd world countries.

You are talking about denying medicine and medical treatments to women around the globe because of your limited belief system?
Jesus, indeed.
Nicole B - June 4th, 2013 at 12:56 AM
Thank you for such a great series and links to others. As I begin our adoption journey, I've been reading a lot of books and blogs and it's clear people are very passionate about the topic, coming from all sides. The importance of adoption ethics can never be overstated and I hope adoptive parents can work together to make improvements to the current status quo with advice about asking questions, choosing agencies, and examining our hearts on what individuals feel they can do in facing the tragedy of poverty and the impact on children.

One thing I find discouraging in the dialogue of adoptive parents and advocates is a tendency to be very defensive about their adoption and critical of others. I'm not referring specifically to these blog posts, but it is relevant to many of the comments and other blogs out there. There is a lot of: "adoption has serious ethical problems, but my adoption is better because I adopted...[an older child/ a sick child/ a domestic foster child/ from xyz country or agency].

Obviously, those willing to step up and care for children with more complicated histories and present day realities are to be commended and I commend them. Still, there is a sort of arrogant rhetoric to these statements that I feel is harmful to the adoption community. We should work together to try to improve the process and prevent child trafficking, not try to one-up each other on whose adoption is more legitimate.




Elisabeth Hunt - June 4th, 2013 at 7:50 AM
I'm the mom of an amazing Ethiopian boy, and I will say that I entered international adoption naively. I have since learned a LOT and I applaud your honesty and openness around these issues. Our care for orphans and widows does not extend to taking away the children of the poor.
Amy - June 4th, 2013 at 9:30 AM
As a birthmother, I can tell you that the most amazing thing in my life is knowing that my baby is loved and well taken care of, and that her adoptive parents aren't cutting me out of the picture entirely. I went through a domestic adoption three years ago, and I can say that even there, research is key. There are plenty of domestic adoption agencies that will make a birthmother feel like giving up her baby is the only option available to her. They also encourage closed-adoption to "lessen the emotional pain for the birthmother." I researched 4-5 before I chose one. I decided on adoption because I financially couldn't take care of my baby, which was an extremely painful decision to come to. However, the fact that her adoptive parents are so open and allow me not only pictures and letters, but that I actually get to see her and they talk to her about me - that is amazing. I cannot imagine what kind of pain I would feel knowing that not only would I have to give up my child for her benefit, but that she would end up half-way across the world as well. Knowing that I might never see her again would be crushing. I strongly support agencies that encourage openness and reunification possibilities. Thank you so much, Jen, for writing this series!
Bethany Bassett - June 4th, 2013 at 11:25 AM
Thank you so much for this series! My husband and I have yet to find ourselves in a time and place in which adoption would be possible, so this third part of your series is especially appreciated. We absolutely want to be on the side of justice, to do everything we can to ensure that children can grow up in healthy families ("healthy" in every sense!), and the ideas here are more than enough for us to work with. Thank you for committing to dig for the truth rather than simply resting on good intentions. I'm right here with you, ears pricked for "the beautiful sound of chains breaking everywhere."
Steve - June 4th, 2013 at 4:55 PM
Jen,

Your math is wrong. 8,000 / 4,000,000 = 0.2% not 0.002%. The 1 in 461 is correct.

You don't need to post this comment, just correct the decimal point.

All the best,

Steve
Wendy - June 5th, 2013 at 1:49 AM
I cried after reading this. It is my life goal to do something, anything, to help the most helpless in our world, the orphans of impoverished countries. For many years I wanted to to adopt some, but that never came to fruition for numerous reasons. I felt like a failure. But you made me realize that there is so much more that I can do. I'm not sure where to begin, but I am so grateful to you for this post and your many suggestions. As a college professor, I have tried to spread awareness, but I must do more, and do better. Thank you!
K - June 7th, 2013 at 1:32 PM
I would love to hear more about "drying up the donation pipeline." Which gifts are hurtful and oppressive? What types of donations are needed? Really, how are we doing harm and where can we aim to do more good? Thanks.
Jen - July 10th, 2013 at 10:39 PM
Read the book When helping hurts
samantha - June 8th, 2013 at 12:06 AM
Really enjoy your blog....am a reunited adoptee & blog at www.peachneitherherenorthere.blogspot.com
would love to talk further about Legacy House. Sfranklin568@yahoo.com

Erin R. - June 9th, 2013 at 8:17 PM
I'm late reading this series but glad I finally did. It is challenging like many Jen Hatmaker talks. It leaves me uneasy, but so hopeful! We recently became an approved host family through Safe Families in Chicago. I'm not sure who's more excited to get the call, the adults or kids in the house. When I announced to some friends we had been approved, the responses were: "are you crazy?", "why would you do that?", "you're going to get attached and then they are going to leave." My response was quick...yes we are crazy, why wouldn't we do it, and I sure hope to get attached and then continue to love them after they leave - isn't that the point? God is giving us the opportunity to have our lives intersect for however brief or long for a greater purpose. I can not wait!
kt - June 11th, 2013 at 1:53 PM
www.givehope2kids.org is doing an amazing job in HONDURAS ... they grow most of the food on their property that feeds the home-based orphanage
Cecily - June 12th, 2013 at 9:21 AM
Thanks for your "article" about caring for orphans who are not adopted. I have posted a link to this blog on my website. If you would like to visit, you can go to http://www.hopefulplace.com/outreach-to-orphans.html.
Shannon Hazleton - June 12th, 2013 at 1:54 PM
Good Lord, woman!
Amen, amen, amen.
Brenda McCollum - June 13th, 2013 at 9:18 PM
I just finished reading all three blogs on this. Having just returned from Guatemala, I concur with the idea of helping families stay together. Our Florida Baptist Children's Homes have an international ministry called Orphans Heart. In Guatemala, we partner with a Malnutrition Center to literally saves children's lives. Most children stay for an average of 9 months. Then they go home. Recently, they have begun a program where we can sponsor a child for just $25/month. The Center gets the money while the child is there, but it will go to the parents when the child leaves. The parents will come to the Center, monthly, to get their money. This will allow follow up with the child to make sure they are receiving the nourishment they need to survive. I picked out my child while I served there for the week. She is 15 months old and is up to 12 lbs. 12 oz. She is learning to walk. She has the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen. I am looking forward to seeing her grow into a healthy child and hope to assist is getting her educated to break the cycle of poverty for her. www.orphansheart.org has lots more info.
Michelle - June 14th, 2013 at 9:43 PM
Jen, you are a wonder! How I would have devoured this list of resources a few years ago as we were grappling with our agency with how to support the (Ethiopian) birth mother in any other way other than to adopt her children. Our agencies response was merely, "we are an adoption agency, we have no other way to help the situation other than provide adoption." I feel that they were being truthful, but my husband and I spent many tear-filled nights wondering if this really was the best option. In our particular case it was--as we now are raising 4 terrific Ethiopian children--but fully know that there needs to be more and better options for impoverished mothers. The list you provided to help keep families together is fantastic and each point needs to be expanded and funded and promoted in every corner, in every village of the world.
I am a health educator and particularly love the points of:
Education for all kids, especially girls
Birth control/family planning education
Community education directed at men re: valuing women and children

We (my non-profit, GrowLearnGive) have educational materials that accomplish these goals (www.growlearngive.org) quite well and are free to download if any of you readers out there are going to teach girls struggling to stay in school due to poverty. We are looking for funding now to develop lessons for men and boys. We are also working on lessons for young mother health ed as well. Hesperian.org also has basic health ed topics that cover the items you listed.

Thanks again Jen--this series of articles will help our world and the vulnerable families within it trememdously.
Heather Krupa - June 18th, 2013 at 10:01 AM
Thank you for writing about this. It gave me some good points to think about as my husband and I prayerfully consider what part God has for us in the lives of orphans.
Mary Hoyt - June 22nd, 2013 at 6:08 PM
Hooray, hooray, hooray!!! I love this series of posts. So well thought out, well backed-up, and well-said!!!
Jennings - June 27th, 2013 at 11:11 AM
Great post!

My only comment is with the micro-business loans. I have a nonprofit in Uganda (Ten Eighteen Inc) and we do micro-business GRANTS. Honestly, if we can't afford to GIVE someone $50, what are we doing? I don't believe in personal debt myself, so why would I put that on someone else? To us, $50 is nothing, but to a woman in the slums of Uganda it's a HUGE sum. Now, we don't just walk around handing out 100,000 shillings willy nilly. We work with a local ministry who organizes business plans for us to review when we're there, who really drill down into what the women can and can't do, how much they need for capital, etc., and who follow along with them and hold them accountable. But these women can barely pay their rent (if they can), can't pay for their kids' school fees, and need every bit of profit to reinvest into the business. Why on earth would I ask them for loan repayments?! The women we've invested in over the last 3 years have bought land and built houses, have been able to feed their children, have grown their businesses. We haven't had a single failure (out of about three dozen grants). And they are always more than happy to help women just coming into the program. And that's my 2 cents!

I do work also with a babies home, orphanage and school in Bukaleba, outside of Jinja, as well as homeless kids in Kampala, and agree with you 100% on the solutions, etc.
Mary Hoyt - June 28th, 2013 at 1:18 PM
I would love to connect with anyone working toward family re-unification, preservation and indigenous orphan care/adoption in Kinshasa, DRC - or who is active in promoting ethical practices in the DRC adoption world!
Katie - July 4th, 2013 at 7:32 AM
Jen's argument's are way off base, and I address these point by point in my blog post, "Orphans Don't Apologies From Jen Hatmaker." Children Deserve
Families
.

SaraW - July 5th, 2013 at 9:51 PM
Thank you for all of your hard work and research regarding family preservation. I want to add one more crucial element that often gets overlooked; rape prevention, prevention of stigma post rape, and trauma therapy. There are countless women who give birth all over the world following rape and maybe their adoption choice was based on the many things you listed; poverty, illness, and/or coercion to choose adoption. Or maybe it was fear of stigma and social isolation following giving birth as an unwed mother. Or the stigma based on the false shame following becoming a victim of rape. Being socially isolated in third world countries is terrifying and can lead to starvation in communities where resources are scarce and working together is crucial. And there are certainly women who cannot bring themselves to raise a child they birthed following a traumatic rape and that choice should be honored. But maybe if they felt empowered and supported, we could preserve those families. This could only happen, however, if we are able to help decrease gender inequality, improve rape awareness, reduce shame following victimization, and provide treatment and support.
fayeannette - July 17th, 2013 at 10:10 AM
As with most folks, adoption is viewed as nothing less than win-win. This is unless you are a child of First People. Then, you can be yanked, excuse me-adopted) from your tribe, your people, your culture, your language and placed with good Christian white families who will raise you the right way. Indian Child Welfare Act is often, frequently, many times, over and over ignored by courts, the state and the families who just want a baby.
ie research recent US Supreme Court Decision - just one of the many examples
Colleen - July 21st, 2013 at 6:41 PM
What a great post!! I recently travelled to Ethiopia with Ordinary Hero. We worked along-side several ministries including NOLM. I was expecting to go and see many children that just needed to be adopted. What I found was several families and children that need sponsors. They don't need someone else to raise their children, they just need an opportunity to do it themselves! It was very convicting and I cannot wait to bring awareness to their situations. Thank you so much for posting!
Cindy Judge - July 23rd, 2013 at 7:40 PM
How encouraging to be giving your readers a crash course in community or transformational development principles. As a former missions pastor in a mega church, I was always looking for just such a Cliff's Notes on international missions subjects...this is one of the best. Keep throwing it all at us. We need broad, cross-cultural influences in our lives. May your tribe increase.

keri - July 28th, 2013 at 7:51 PM
From a mother of 4, and someone who loved your blog BEFORE your Today show appearance (CONGRATS!! from making us all laugh-till-we-Had-tears from the "Whatever man" sight of Ben in his soccer socks and "what fresh hell is this?!?"....THANK YOU. I am not in the adoption world, and don't begin to know the emotions and many sides you wrote about, but I love your passion and fight for the injustice in this world. (and I was sorry to read the negative comments in the first part of the adoption insight) Because from what I can see...I say... If only there were more moms/christians/writers/SOULS like Jen Hatmaker! I just finished the amazing "Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" (I am pretty sure you have already read it by now, though) and know there is just simply SO much to be done by those of us felt led by God to get off the couch. Keep being led, Jen. Keep listening. Keep writing. Keep praying and keep being brave. (and keep cracking me up!!!) God bless you and your family. sending TONS OF internet love from Connecticut!
peter - August 1st, 2013 at 8:39 PM

I want to say thanks to Dr OSARETIN for bring back my lover to me , my husband said he want to divorce me for him to get marry to another woman after will have be together for 6 years few days for us to go and divorce, i say some body testify of what a spell caster have done for her so i desired to give a try it was 7 days to go and divorce and when i contacted him , he said that he can get him back for me the third day my husband stop the divorce and now will are together for good .if you are in any type of problem in your relationship contact him via templeofgreatness@gmail.
Kendra Cyrus - August 23rd, 2013 at 12:05 AM
This was an amazing post! Yes, it is very important to take more measures to alleviate poverty. However, in so many countries, efforts are trumped by corruption and bureaucratic nonsense.
Rachel - August 28th, 2013 at 3:04 PM
I wrote a post about this and at the end of my post, I'm pointing people to your blog so they can check out this series. I'm glad someone with such a large following is asking serious questions and looking for long-term solutions. thank you!!

http://pinkcanuck.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/adoption-is-not-the-answer-to-the-orphan-crisis/
Gloria - August 30th, 2013 at 4:55 PM

i want to say a very big thanks and appreciation to chief priest Agbani for bringing back my husband who left i and

the kids for almost three months within the space of five days after following all instruction given to me. i am

very much grateful for restoring peace in my marital home' i pray God almighty give you the strength and wisdom to

help more people having similar problem like mine. for help you can
from Mrs Gloria CONTACT HIM on this email okosunspelltemple@gmail.com

Leigh Myers - October 28th, 2013 at 10:12 PM
http://www.exiledmothers.com/speaking_out/christian_adoption.htm This is scary stuff that we the Church must open our eyes to recognize.
joan jane - November 15th, 2013 at 11:12 PM

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kids but i couldn't control the pains that torments my heart, my
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with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and i always wish he
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all, he told me to wait for just seven days and that my husband will come
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knock on the door, in a great surprise i saw him on his kneels and i
was speechless, when he saw me, all he did was crying and asking me
for forgiveness, from that day, all the pains and sorrows in my heart
flew away,since then i and my husband and our lovely kids are
happy.that is why i want to say a big thanks to Doctor okogie. This
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UBA - November 23rd, 2013 at 1:13 AM

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Eva - February 5th, 2014 at 9:11 AM
I really appreciate this third piece so much, as a pediatrician working in the adoptive medical world in the US for several years before moving to China with our family and serving in orphan and foster care work here for nearly 5 years now. This topic of ethics was beginning to formulate in my mind before we moved here, and living in this culture has given me even more insight into the complexities and intersection of institutions, abandonment, corruption, trafficking and adoption. At the same time, our small charitable organization has gone from nearly 100% foreign (non-Chinese) people fostering special needs children from area orphanages, to now over half of our 18 foster families are Chinese. This may seem small, but the impact it is having on the local community is tremendous. Even as they are swimming against the culture by a) taking in a non-related child and b) taking in a child with a disability who according to pragmatic perspective "has no future" they have all shared the tremendous life-changing blessings their family, their neighbors, and their churches have experienced as a direct result of taking in this child against all common sense. I see this model as a grass-roots effort that has a ripple effect, when the local church begins to take responsibility and say "it's not just the government's responsibility, it's ours as Christians" and they are giving these children homes not because they want to add to their family but because they are heeding the call to care for the orphan. The BIble never talks about institutions as a model for raising children, and I strongly believe that any orphanage should only be a last-resort, temporary type of measure whenever possible due to the long-standing data from the western world of the incredibly negative impact institutionalization has on children. So I appreciate your perspective on encouraging community development, strengthening families, and would like to add the role of the local church (body of believers) as a viable part of the solution in a number of contexts.
Tracy - April 18th, 2014 at 7:53 PM
My Name is TRACY, From New York,USA. I
wish to share my testimonies with the
general public about what this woman called
Zzona has just done for me , this woman has
just brought back my lost Ex husband,
with her great spell, I was married to this
man called Steven we were together for a
long time and we love each other but when I
was unable to give him a child after 2 years,he
left me and told me he can%u2019t continue
anymore then I was now looking for ways
to get him back until a friend of mine told
me about this woman. My friend gave her email to me and asked me to contact her but I didn't want to cos I doubted at first but later reconsider cos it's so rear for a woman to be as powerful like she said. So I contacted her through this email (zzonaspellshrine@gmail.com) You won%u2019t believe this when I contacted this
Woman and told her my problems she cast the spell and my ex came back begging on his knees and asking me to forgive him. Not only that after a month I miss my monthly flow,when I went to my doctor,he confirm that I am pregnant so I told my self that I will testify to the whole wide world about the wonders of the powerful if I give birth successfully. I am so happy today cos I am a mother of a bouncing baby girl,thank you once again the great Zzona for what you have done for me, if you are out there passing through any of this problems
listed below:
1) If you want your ex back.
(2) if you always have bad dreams.
(3) You want to be promoted in your office.
(4) You want women/men to run after you.
(5) If you want a child.
(6) You want to be rich.
(7) You want to tie your husband/wife to be
yours forever.
(8) If you need financial assistance.
(9) How you been scammed and you want
to recover you lost money
contact zzonaspellshrine@gmail.com
(10)Cure of HIV and AIDS
Call him on 2348035394535.
Mark David - May 16th, 2014 at 5:30 PM


My Name is Mark David am from United States..I never believed in Spells
or Magics until I met this special spell caster when i contact this temple
oralshrine@gmail.com Execute some business..He is really powerful..Am a
business man who deals on exporting of cars to different countries. my
business was not going well with me.then i decided to discuss it with a
friend of mine to lend me some money in other to push my business. but all
he said to me was that he have no money that he can give to me. but he can
only do me a favor, by introducing me to a spiritual temple which he saw on
the internet. he told me that is own business as a fashion designer was
more worst than that of mine. before he saw this great temple. all they ask
him was that, how can they help him out, which he tell them all his
problem. and after he told them all he wanted that was when they finally
put and end to his problem. when he told me his own story i was surprise
about that but i also take a step to this great oral temple at
oralshrine@gmail.com . which i followed the procedure on what to do. and
right now i find it very great with my business.what i also find in this
great temple is that they can help you in any area of your life,
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