Meet “Joey.” Joey was born to a drug addict and has Down syndrome. An adoption agency places him in a foster home where he waits for months–maybe years–for his “forever family.”
When a family sets out to adopt with a private agency, the wait is often agonizingly long and incredibly expensive. Why? I recently read an article that claimed there were 36 waiting parents for every child adopted through private agencies. But the children they want are not like Joey. They are healthy infants who were not born addicted with Down syndrome.
As tragic as Joey’s situation is, in 2012 our national foster care system had approximately 100,000 children waiting to be adopted. Yet only about 16,000 were successfully placed with pre-adoptive families. That same year, nearly 40,000 children turned 18 (aging out of the system) without a family ever adopting them.
These numbers are tragic! The Lord tells us that He is a Father to the fatherless and that He sets the lonely in families (Ps. 68:5). God’s people were called over and over again in Scripture to care for the material needs of the widow and the orphan through tithes (Deut. 14:29), through festivals (Deut. 16:11-14) and through harvesting practices (Deut. 24:19). The charge to care for the widow and orphan was repeated to the Church in the New Testament (James 1:27). Ours are the families that the Lord wants to place these children into. We are the ones who should fight for justice for these vulnerable children. His solution is His Church.
But what does that mean for each of us? I am not suggesting that everyone is called to adopt, but we all have a role to play in caring for orphans. We can support families that have adopted or are caring for foster children. We can become respite providers, giving parents of adopted children a break. We can help to raise awareness for those stuck in a dysfunctional system. Surely the millions of Christian families in America can do more to ensure that precious children like Joey receive the care and love they need.