Do you ever feel as if the world is moving at such a rapid pace that you don’t have the time to sort through all the complex issues that come hurtling at us? Or that there’s so much information flying through the digital universe that you can’t keep up with it? Two respected Christian organizations—Zondervan and Barna Group—have teamed up to address this “cultural turbulence” with Frames, an annual series of softcover mini-books, e-books, DVDs, even live events leading the church to think prophetically about crucial trends in society. One of their first “Frames” calls Christians to lead the way in solving the orphan crisis through foster care and adoption.
My good friend, Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, contributed a mini-book to this series, Becoming Home. Joining him in other media—known as “reframes”—are cutting edge thinkers such as Francis Chan, Jim Daly, Ruslan Maliuta, David Platt, and Carissa Woodwyk. Obviously, I couldn’t be happier to see adoption and foster care examined and championed by such a stellar group of Christian leaders. Barna Group conducted research that included public opinion studies exclusively for this series and found that where 2% of all adults choose to adopt, the number rises to 5% for those adults who are Christians.
In this 86-page book, Becoming Home, Jedd doesn’t sugarcoat adoption, acknowledging that when you open your life up to an orphan, you open your heart to both joy and ache. In my 40 years of working with families, I have found this to be a truthful description of what happens to us when we help orphans. Yet while the aches are real and painful, they are always offset by the joy. During this healing there will be some pain points of your own, but as you patiently demonstrate God’s love to them—the aches will turn to joy. Every wound needs time to heal.
Jedd also observes how opening our hearts to orphans exposes us to the world in its utter brokenness and despair. Many of our families who return from developing nations where they have adopted a child are deeply moved by the conditions they witnessed. They struggle with their relatively affluent lifestyles compared to what they have seen abroad. I believe God gives us these experiences to make us more compassionate about “the least of these” in the world.
Becoming Home shines a light on problems many would prefer to ignore. For example, there are 102,000 children in foster care in our country await permanent homes, and 23,000 of those children “age out” of the system without a family.1 Of those 23,000, 60 percent have less than a high school education, 46 percent are unemployed, 28 percent are unable to pay their rent, and 64 percent of the males are incarcerated.
Thankfully, the book not only challenges Christians to advocate for orphans, but offers three specific ways we can help: open our homes to children through adoption or foster care, mentor parents who have adopted, or financially support families and agencies that help orphans. I highly recommend not only this book, but all of the resources in this Frame project that highlight the plight of orphans.
1. AFCARS FY 2012 Preliminary Report as of July 2013
Bill Blacquiere is president and CEO of Bethany Christian Services, a leading global family preservation and child welfare agency.