Compassion has a special call on my life, in particular “True religion is this that you care for the widow and the orphan.” I’ve spent the last decade caring for my widowed mother. Now that she is set free in heaven, I turn to the other concern . . the orphan, the one with little or no voice, and a lifetime of emptiness unless someone comes to offer a heart and a home.
Most of us have seen dramatic scenes of orphans in foreign countries, but the need is also very close to home.
Right now, there are over 100,000 children in foster care in the U.S. waiting for adoption. 100,000 children with no certainly or continuity of love in their lives.
Far too many of them will time out of the system when they turn 18, unprepared for life alone, set loose without a life foundation a family provides, untethered.
Little wonder so many end up in prison within ten years. Where else will they be for Christmas or Thanksgiving, while families gather all around them, behind closed doors?
While 100,000 sounds overwhelming, it becomes less so if we break it down by state and look at the resources.
Texas edges out California for the sad honor of the highest number of children at risk, 13,091 children. My state of Florida comes in fourth, after New York, with 5,127 children waiting for forever homes.
How can our compassion move such numbers?
Look at the second column in the data below, which represents the number of churches in each state. Texas has more than twice the number of churches as available orphans. If half of the churches in Texas practice true religion and one family adopts a child, with the congregation supporting them, the foster system would be empty, except for emergency, temporary placements.
And over 13,000 lives left out in the cold in Texas would begin to heal and grow toward the light.
In Florida, in less than one out of three churches one family could adopt a child, and empty the list of Florida’s foster children waiting for adoption.
Look at your state and calculate the odds. They aren’t insurmountable, are they?
State Children Waiting FY 2012* Churches*
Alabama 1,155 10,760
Alaska 786 1,050
Arizona 2,910 3,771
Arkansas 1,020 6,343
California 13,091 22,798
Colorado 916 3,813
Connecticut 1,385 2,909
Delaware 243 1,009
District of Columbia 303 825
Florida 5,127 16,805
Georgia 1,645 14,380
Hawaii 223 1,163
Idaho 278 1,776
Illinois 2,936 13,097
Indiana 2,318 9,204
Iowa 961 4,766
Kansas 1,853 4,615
Kentucky 1,999 6,859
Louisiana 1,088 7,983
Maine 480 1,539
Maryland 559 5,816
Massachusetts 2,468 4,039
Michigan 3,583 11,169
Minnesota 983 5,628
Mississippi 890 7,718
Missouri 2,065 8,973
Montana 403 1,518
Nebraska 904 2,595
Nevada 1,879 1,248
New Hampshire 182 1,033
New Jersey 2,226 6,713
New Mexico 836 1,796
New York 6,056 14,767
North Carolina 2,070 17,625
North Dakota 210 1,252
Ohio 2,655 14,657
Oklahoma 2,803 6,737
Oregon 2,062 3,646
Pennsylvania 1,924 15,539
Rhode Island 223 703
South Carolina 1,330 9,479
South Dakota 397 1,368
Tennessee 2,514 11,179
Texas 13,148 27,505
Utah 566 2,582
Vermont 226 692
Virginia 1,517 10,952
Washington 2,865 5,393
West Virginia 1,404 3,432
Wisconsin 1,129 6,045
Wyoming 107 803
Puerto Rico 818
Total 101,719 348,067
Now, I’m personally too old to adopt, and have health problems that would even preclude fostering right now, but my heart is there. I can support those who do, and I am doing so right now with my words.
If you cannot adopt, perhaps you can help provide funding to people or programs for those who wish to adopt. You can offer respite care to foster parents, or ongoing support for those who adopt or foster.
Several families close to my heart have responded to this call. Some have adopted internationally as well as domestically.
The one I know the best, adopted at five weeks, is now almost six years old. Since he is African-American and his parents are Caucasian, it is unlikely he can ignore the obvious, that he isn’t “just like” his brother and sister. He’s asking questions about where he came from. Last week he asked his mother, “If I didn’t come from your tummy like (his siblings), then is the other tummy my mommy, too?” The conversation ensued, gentle answers to his probing questions, the why’s and how’s of it all. After he heard that his birth mother had been too young, etc. to care for him and gave him up for his good, he reflected. “That must have been sad for her (his birth mother). I am glad that God made something happy from something sad.”
That is the key of adoption.
It is sad when a woman is pregnant and cannot, or will not, keep her child. (But at least she loved him enough to give the child life.)
When we, with a heart of compassion, step up the plate and care for the one who needs us, we are God’s hands, making something happy from something sad.
Check out these sites for more information.
On March 3-5, 1025, The Dropbox will air across the country. It’s an award-winning documentary on one man’s response to an orphan’s need, profoundly moving. You can watch the trailer here, and check out local theatres and buy tickets below. (I heard some cities are already sold out, so don’t wait until the last minute.)
http://www.fathomevents.com/event/the-drop-box/buy to buy tickets to The Drop Box.
Have you personally been touched by adoption, or are you contemplating opening your family heart to another?
5 thoughts on “True religion leads to compassion”
So moved by this, Jane.
I looked at my state:
“Illinois 2,936 13,097”
There is much that can be done.
Renato and I have often talked about adoption. I’m unsure if it will be in our future, as a few things have yet to unfold, but we certainly have much love to give.
Thank you, thank you for such a beautiful post. As always, your heart is centered and shining brightly.
You are a gift!
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Yes, you have a grand heart, and I’d love to see you able to bless little lives.
My step son was adopted by my husband and his first wife in 1974. He is a fine man now with a wife and three children. Also my sister adopted two children. Her daughter grew up and became a foster mother who adopted two more. Another niece adopted a baby from Columbia. Our family continues to grow and grow. Thanks for bringing up the issue of foster care. I worked in adoptions and foster care for years in FL. It’s a horrible state of affairs. These kids have real trouble forming their identity. I ache for them because I have a family that nurtured me and continues to do so. Without family we are lost at sea. The sea is so large and my boat is so small. I can pray that this film and post opens the heart of more people.
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It seems that once a family is opened to adoption it becomes more natural, and I think with each child added to a family, all the hearts involved grow bigger. Yes. “Without family we are lost at sea.” I’m praying for many rescues!
Love this post, I have foster/adopted 2 boys. They are both 5 years old now. Thank you for advocating for us!
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