Adopting in a Broken System

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Note: Every weekend we’ll (Jennifer and Benjer) share a bit of our journey to adopting a child. This post is by Benjer. To read more posts on adoption, visit our adoption page.

“Do for one, what you wish you could do for many.”

Those words are from Andy Stanley, the pastor of North Point Community Church outside of Atlanta, GA. And as we continue our journey to adopt a child, they are very important words to me. Because when it comes to adoption–like so many other things people do in the world to help others–the issues that are involved are far more complicated than we wish they were. We live in a broken world, and there are a lot of hurting people in all cultures that need help. It’s easy for one person to look at all that could be done and feel overwhelmed.

When it comes to international adoption, the issue is definitely complicated. It’s not just that there are so many millions of children in the world that don’t have parents. UNICEF estimates that there are currently 18 million children in the world who have lost both parents, and an additional 135 million who have lost one parent. Those statistics alone are overwhelming. What makes the issue so difficult is that broken, sinful systems make it almost impossible to bring about positive, lasting change.

As Jennifer and I spent time considering whether to begin the adoption process this past fall, we consulted people who had adopted, both here locally and on adoption blogs. We came across several arguments against international adoption–some well-formulated and some that were simply thinly veiled racism. One of the most popular arguments is that the amount of money that an international adoption costs would be better spent as a charitable contribution to the country we hope to adopt from. After all, wouldn’t it be better to write a check to support infrastructure in that country or pay for programs that would prevent the very circumstances that creates so many orphans in the first place?

On the surface, that seems like a valid point. But it doesn’t take much to realize that money alone doesn’t solve problems. If it did, there would be far fewer homeless people in Haiti today. Billions have been pledged or given to relief support, much of which at best was wasted and at worst went straight to people’s pockets who needed the money least. In addition, the why-not-send-money-instead-of-adopting argument is as silly as saying, “Why not stop hiring firefighters, and instead put that money into fire prevention education and techniques?” The answer: because a lot more people would die in fires, that’s why.

The orphan crisis is complicated. There isn’t a clear-cut, one-size-fits-all solution to the fact that millions of kids don’t have parents. But the worst thing we can do when faced with a daunting, complicated, and much-bigger-than-we-can-handle problem is to assume that there’s nothing that we can do.

The reality is that right now, there are millions of children without parents. In many countries, orphanages are overflowing because culturally, people simply don’t adopt children from outside their family. You don’t need to visit too many orphanages or hear a lot of stories to understand that things are very broken. And it all seems so overwhelming to me, because I’m a fixer. I love to problem solve, and it drives me nuts when there’s not an achievable solution. So, I’m going to take Andy Stanley’s advice. There’s one boy in Bulgaria who needs a home, a family, and a father to say, “I will always be your Daddy, and you will always be my boy.” We will do for one what we wish we could do for all.

To read more adoption posts and to sign up for email updates, visit our adoption page.

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