No more orphanages

“Deye Mon, Gen Mon”–Beyond Mountains there are mountains.

The orphan crisis is overwhelming.  127 million orphans.  Christians have built orphanages to feed, educate, and care for children that truly needed it.  I have two children in my home that lived in orphanages.  I have visited orphanages and supported them.  I have taken groups to work at orphanages.  But over the years I have learned that this is a bad system with good intentions. There is a better way to help these children–stop them from being orphans.

Honestly the three children in our home didn’t make a dent in the number of orphans.  But we were still called to adopt.  Sometimes we are called to “Do Small things with Great Love” (Mother Teresa).  But wouldn’t it be amazing if their were no children that needed to be adopted?  I love adoption and I think there will always be circumstances that call for children to need a home.  But what if we actually cared for the families before the parents lost their lives or their children were starving.  What if we found ways to help them feed their own families.  What if we actually made a dent in the numbers from the other end?

Haiti is full of poverty and sadness.  There are so many children that do not have enough to eat or the medical care they need.  Again, Christians built orphanages to feed, educate, and care for children that truly needed it.  But we took a bandaid and slapped it over the wound and called it healed. I am encouraged that there are now places in Haiti that are working toward helping the wound never occur.  Yes there will always be children that need a safe place because of abuse or neglect.  This is true in the USA with foster care.  But we have discovered that shelters in the US are not good for children and DHS is closing them.  They are working hard to find foster care placement instead because it is just better.  And now DHS is working extra hard to reunify families, more than ever.  Families are just better, period. So taking children that are in orphanages and placing them in families is right. This can be done with adoption or foster care.  I mean God sets the lonely in families.  He loves families.

Psalm 68:6   God sets the lonely in families.

Hands and Feet Project in Jacmel, Haiti has children placed by the government that are not allowed to be adopted or go back to their families.  They have adopted a plan that is similar to foster care in the US.  They provide family-style, residential care so that these children have a family to come home to into adulthood.  They educate their children and do job training so that they can be successful in their culture.

But we need to be working to keep children in their original families in the first place before orphanages.  Because yes Christians have stepped up to adopt children that are in orphanages, yet there are so many more that are never adopted. I remember visiting Hands and Feet and a young mother came to relinquish her child at the gate.  She was a young mother that was in school and said she could not go to school and keep her baby.  I watched as Stephen Mulligan spoke to her about finding someone to watch her baby while she attends classes for the next 6 months.  How simple is that?  But it would feel better to take her infant and “save her.” At this very moment I realized Haiti doesn’t need more orphanages, they need daycares so mom’s can keep their children.  They need jobs so they can afford to feed their children.  But this is harder to emotionally sell to Christians in America to support.  It is harder to get financial supporters for a daycare than an orphanage. It is harder to employ someone than just feed their child.  Christians should be known for helping others when it doesn’t profit them at all.  That means even emotionally.

Then I came across an organization in Haiti that does this very thing. Apparent Project employs Haitian artisans with a living wage.  Not only this, but they offer child care for their children so they physically can work and keep their children.

But you know what?  Apparent Project can’t do it all.  Even with other organizations with like minds including Heartline Ministries and Olive Tree–They can’t be in every country in every community.  So how can we accomplish this huge task of reversing the orphan crisis numbers? The Church!  The church can physically be in every country and every community.  I attended an adoption conference years ago and heard Elizabeth Styffe from Saddleback Church speak on this very thing, years before anyone else was speaking of it.  Orphanages were the answer at that time.  But she helped the Rwandan government close all their orphanages and use the church to accomplish it!  Where do you think they found people to care for the sick mothers?  Where did they find homes for the children whose parents had lost their lives?   Churches.

So instead of funding orphanages, Christians should fund daycares and churches all over the world.  That is a weird concept!  Especially coming from a mom that worked nights at the hospital and only allowed her husband to care for her children for years.  I never used daycare and worked hard to find alternatives. I am not against daycares at all, but I want to show you how this concept is not a natural leap for me, but I love it!  Families should be preserved if there is a way.  And we should be promoting churches in these communities so they can be the Church Family that we all know we need.

So let’s find ways to promote churches and daycares!


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