As president of Bethany Christian Services, one of the leading family preservation and adoption agencies in the U.S., one of my biggest (and oldest) dreams is to stop providing adoption services. Let me state clearly that my reason for wanting to stop isn’t because I’ll ever grow weary of uniting vulnerable children with loving families. No, I want to stop one day as a result of the success of social services programs keeping these children with their loving biological families. Unfortunately, with millions of vulnerable children around the world, including over 100,000 here in the U.S., we have plenty of work to do before my dream becomes a reality.
National Adoption Month—November—is upon us and efforts to raise awareness for adoption will take place throughout the month. In fact, this Sunday, November 4, is Orphan Sunday, a day when thousands of Christian churches across America and around the globe participate in events sharing a single goal: that God’s great love for the orphan will echo in our lives.
Last year, thousands of churches hosted or participated in Orphan Sunday events in support of vulnerable children. Such events are crucial in combating the global orphan crisis and we are grateful to all of the Christian ministries and the members of their congregations who are working diligently to help educate others to the plight of the world’s orphans.
Ultimately, Orphan Sunday, in concert with the thousands of other initiatives running throughout November, may lead to families opening their hearts and homes to waiting children. Additionally, it will also provide critical supplies and resources to children and families in crisis. Whether it is supplies such as food, clothing, or medicine to keep children and families healthy, or resources dedicated to education or job training to assist in breaking the cycle of poverty that often causes parents to abandon or traffic their children, without the continued dedication and compassion of the Christian community, efforts would be futile.
Our primary focus in November is on adoption in hopes of decreasing the number of children waiting for a forever family. At the same time, it's vital that we work to strengthen social services in the U.S. and abroad, as well as introduce and develop such services in countries where none currently exist. I have said this many times before and may sound like a broken record, but we must change the culture if we are ever to make a dent in the orphan crisis. That will only happen through strong child and family welfare programs in tandem with education and job training services, which will allow families to care for themselves.
Since it was started, Orphan Sunday has demonstrated substantial growth and generated tremendous momentum. We expect that this growth and momentum will continue this year and in the years to come. Just as importantly, over the past several years we have also seen a shift in various countries, including China and Haiti, to make a commitment to improving social services within their borders. It is this shift that will have the largest impact on decreasing the number of orphans and hopefully make my dream of no longer providing adoption services at Bethany come to life. Until that time, I ask for your continued prayers and support in aiding the world’s most vulnerable children.