In “The tragedy of orphanages,” a TED talk by Georgette Mulheir, Mulheir shares how the institutionalization of orphan care results in tragic results. Kids who grow up in orphanages are likely to experience significant social, physical, and cognitive harm.
Orphanages are also correlated with poverty, crime, and sex trafficking:
Moldova – study: Young women from orphanages are 10 times more likely to be trafficked than their peers.
Russia – study of orphans within two years of graduation from an orphanage:
- 14 percent of women involved in prostitution
- 22 percent hold a criminal record
- 10 percent have committed suicide
The tragedy is that so many of these “orphans” have a living parent. Poverty is the largest driver of institutionalized care. The solution isn’t building more orphanages; it’s finding creative ways for each child to grow up in a home.
We need to go beyond orphanages, and there’s a new book that helps us discover why and how.
You really need to read Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting, written by my friend Johnny Carr, national director of church partnerships at Bethany Christian Services.
Johnny’s book is a vital perspective that there is no one-size fit-all solution to the global orphan crisis. And not everyone is supposed to adopt – but we’re all called to care for widows and orphans in their distress.
Orphan Justice encourages us to see Christ’s call for the Church—to restore the family. It enables us to realize the complexity of the problem and the many different ways we are to respond.
Adoption is one option. Providing family support services or taking part in foster care are also alternatives. For example, in Ethiopia, Bethany Christian Services supports community-based care. They place orphans in homes in that community—with the intention that the families will ultimately adopt them. It’s also about prevention. Helping families grow their income enables then to bring more children into their home.
Whether it’s coming alongside families or adopting a child, the Bible is clear about one thing: caring for orphans is at the heart of Christ’s mission for the Church.
For another post on orphan care, see When Building Orphanages Isn’t Enough.