Every child deserves to live in a loving, caring home, and international adoption has traditionally given orphans that precious gift of a family. However, where once it was relatively easy to find “forever families” for these orphans from other countries, a number of factors have changed the scene of international adoptions.
For example, between 1970 and 1995, the vast majority of children adopted by Americans were Korean. The Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network reports that the 150,000 Korean-born children adopted in the U.S. are now adults with their own families numbering over 1,000,000 (they will hold their annual conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, next month).
In the 1990s, both China and countries from the former Soviet Union began allowing adoptions to the extent that from 1995 through 2011 more adoptions were facilitated from these countries than from anyplace else. Currently, in a move that some observers say is more about geopolitics than it is about kids, Russia has banned the adoption of its orphans by American families. This unprecedented move left many potential adoptive parents on hold in the middle of the process of receiving a child, and many children in orphanages waiting for a family of their own. No one is sure when, or if, the ban will be lifted.
In China, many of the children currently awaiting adoption are older and have significant needs due to mental and physical disabilities. Due to cultural stigma, these children are placed in orphanages where they are languishing without a family to love and support them. Over the last decade, we have seen some remarkable progress in changing attitudes about children born with disabilities. Through the leadership of an amazing young woman, we have introduced the once-foreign concept of foster care in China and have placed more than 200 disabled children in loving foster families.
While a key prerequisite for adopting any child is a heart filled with love and compassion, adopting a child that may face years of medical treatment often gives pause to even the most caring families seeking to adopt a child. Through Bethany’s Caring Connection, we have been able to come alongside families adopting children with special needs to provide support and resources. In addition to financial grants to assist with the added expenses of adopting a child with disabilities, families receive counseling, education, and information about services available in their communities.
Finally, churches can help. Our most successful stories of families adopting children with special needs involve churches that rally around the adoptive families providing respite, encouragement, and sometimes just a shoulder to lean on.
International adoption may be changing, but the “least of these” still need families and churches who will love and care for them in the name of Christ. Learn more about how you can participate in this effort.
Learn about international adoption: www.bethany.org/main/international-adoption-info
Learn about Caring Connection: www.bethany.org/main/caring-connection