AN INTRODUCTION TO THE PLIGHT OF WAITING CHILDREN
Have you ever imagined growing up without a mom or dad? Or facing life alone on the streets just because you were the second born? These are the harsh realities that orphans are facing today, right now in 2013. The orphan crisis is a topic that many people talk about, but few truly understand. The truth is, this topic is more than just a pop-culture conversation: it is real, it is relevant for each of us, and it is filled with heartbreak. It is the international orphan crisis.
In order to make a difference, we have to stay informed. Continue reading as we discuss the top three things you should know about the orphan crisis: the “who, where, and why” of this devastating issue.
Each face looks different. She is a beautiful two-year-old with Down syndrome, left alone on the streets due to her disability. He is a shy 11-year-old boy who has been in and out of foster care, bottling up every frustration and fear of rejection; a family has yet to tell him, “We will love you forever, just as you are.” She’s an eight-year-old girl who has waited and dreamt of her forever family for years, but her country just halted international adoptions. Based on statistics, she will die before she reaches her 9th birthday. Will her dream of a family ever come true?
The international orphan crisis affects more than 140 million children. Of those children, 18 million have lost both parents. They range in age from infants to teenagers, all without a family to provide for their most basic needs. Children are orphaned for a wide range of reasons, including war, poverty, and death. They live halfway across the world and they live just down the street. If these children formed one country, it would be the 10th largest country in the world – an entire nation of vulnerable children, left to fend for themselves.
The orphan crisis exists worldwide. Asia is at the top of the list with the largest population of waiting children, reaching a total of 60 million orphans. In addition, Asia has the highest number of orphans with disabilities. Some children will have the opportunity to be cared for in great facilities like Show Hope’s Special Care Centers, but the majority will not have access to such care.
Following Asia, the largest populations of waiting children exist in Africa, Latin America, and the United States (consecutively). Different factors have affected each country’s statistics, but they all share one thing: a heartbreaking number of orphaned children.
You may be thinking that you’ve seen multiple friends adopt and that adoption must be fairly easy. Unfortunately, this is generally not the case. To address the “Why?” we must first address several major factors. First, there are a staggering 140+ million orphans in the world today. Second, there are a number of complicated rules and regulations that impact adoption such as the Hague Convention, an international agreement that works to safeguard children in the international adoption process.
In addition, adoption regulations often differ from country to country. This inevitably leads to longer waiting periods, increased paperwork, and greater financial expenses. Some countries that were formally open to international adoption have now begun to close their doors to outside adoptions. As a result, international adoptions have dropped by 50% since 2004, due in large part to these factors. While these changes in practices and rules are intended to protect the child, they have also unfortunately discouraged many people from pursuing adoption.
CONCLUSION: WHO WILL SPEAK UP?
Now that you know more about the international orphan crisis, it’s time to ask yourself: “How can I help?” The best place to start is simple: prayer. Ask God, “What’s next? How can I help end this crisis? How can I show hope to these vulnerable children?” Consider signing up for Show Hope’s prayer updates. Next, consider whether you are called to impact the movement through adopting, giving financially, advocacy events, or through a short-term trip. This Christmas, you can give a “Gift of Hope” through our gift catalog! There are lots of different ways to get involved. We hope that you will join us on this life-changing journey! Together, we can restore the hope of a family to orphans in distress.