Friday, April 12, 2013
A Sad Statistic
This statistic breaks my heart. I cannot help but think of those beautiful children we met, especially the older ones who will be aging out of the system soon. Not a day has passed that I don't think of and pray for them.
I can't help but think of V., who was 14 when we met her. She spoke in fragmented English, but she was sweet and polite. I also noticed that she helped take care of the younger kids. One of the first things she asked me was, "Will you be staying for the New Years?" There was a hopefulness in her voice for me to reply in the positive. Although all of her clothes were hand-me-downs, it was obvious that she took great pride and care of how she dressed. I remember how she smiled shyly when I commented on how much I liked her sneakers. What stood out for me even more was how she came to our room while I was drawing pictures for the other kids and she handed my wife a small photo album. "What's this?" my wife asked. "Give to him," she replied, referring to me, and when my wife asked her why, she answered, "Out of gratitude." She gave me a possession she prized simply because I drew pictures for her and the other kids. She told me she was 14 then, I don't know if she's had a birthday since, but even if she hasn't, she is only 2 years away from graduating out of the system.
Or T., the 12 year old, who drew in my sketchbook and handed it back to me. There were three drawings, the last of which was a heart. When I came to that page, she pointed to the drawn heart, then to hers, and told me it was her heart for me. I think of how she smiled every time we came into contact and how much she liked that I hugged her. More than this, I remember her tears as we left the boarding school for the last time because she realized we weren't adopting her. I was heart-broken because I had wanted to. I had inquired about adopting her since she was in our approved age range and she was an only child (something that can be quite rare) and was told we would have to start the whole adoption process over again (home study, dossier, etc) and that would take another year and a lot of money that we didn't have.
Since the boarding school was in such a rural and impoverished area (the nicest building in the town was the unemployment office), I asked our translator, "What happens to these kids when they graduate?" "They go to a bigger city like Odessa." "And what happens to them there?" "They tend to end up prey to those who would take advantage of them. Most girls end up in prostitution."
My heart sank. Part of the reason I wept when we left was at the thought of these beautiful children who so desperately need love and of the fate that awaited so many if they weren't adopted. And I knew the dismal statistics on the chances for children their age to be adopted. Many people who adopt either here or abroad want babies or younger children. Every year in this country alone, over 30,000 teens will age out of the system. The numbers for the adopting of older children are half those of younger children and the statistics for boys compared to girls are even worse (64% girls to only 36% boys). Is it any wonder then that so many of the young men who leave orphanages either commit suicide, turn to drugs, or end up in crime?
Even in the United States, 43% of the children waiting to be adopted are over the age of 9, but 72% of the children adopted are under the age of 9 (according to the National American Council on Adoptable Children. Here's a link to their site: http://www.nacac.org/). And they also stated that the percentage of children 9 and older who are waiting to be adopted has grown from 39% in 1998 to 44% (this means 4 in 10 children are waiting.
For those of you who are considering adoption, please prayerfully consider an older child(ren). Prayerfully consider adopting males. I know in the boarding school we went to, it appeared that for every female that was there, there were 3 males.
If we are the hands and feet of God are we, as Christians, amputating our Heavenly Father by not obeying His command to take care of the least of these? How can we, as Christians, look at the statistic for these kids and not be moved to do something?