Huge, world-wide problems loom over us. They're intimidating and daunting, sometimes seeming insurmountable. Sometimes people wonder whether it's worth even trying to take them on. The answer is "yes," every time, even though some issues remain with us year after year, generation after generation: war, poverty, slavery, human trafficking. But given enough time and effort backed by conviction and faith, God empowers us to topple these global giants.
A few years ago I wrote this blog post about the world's orphan problem, and in it, I shared statistics that if about one in nine families adopted one child globally, we could close every orphanage, showing that this should be a solvable problem. We shouldn't need any orphanages. It's not that orphanages are bad -- they are way better than parentless children on the street or worse, in the hands of human trafficking -- but they aren't good. Children raised in orphanages typically have developmental delays and emotional problems that follow them through life, and it's worse in economically depressed countries. In fact, it is thought by many that poverty is the primary force driving the need for orphanages rather than the existence of suitable family homes. Regardless of why we still have orphanages, though, there's no debate that where children should be is with a family.
Rwanda is the first country putting this to the test, which is remarkable considering that the nation has widespread (but improving) poverty and is still recovering from its 1994 genocide uprising. Yet, backed by the UN, donors like UNICEF, and international Christian leadership, in 2012 the Rwandan government set out to place every institutionalized orphan in a foster or adoptive home. And, it's working. In 2012, the nation had more than 30 orphanages; today it has three. This has happened through subsidizing, awareness, an effort to locate families and international adoption. When (not if) Rwanda closes these three, it will be the first country to do so -- proving that we can put the age of orphanages behind us. If Rwanda can do it, I see no excuse for more economically advantaged nations not to.
To be fair, the movement in Rwanda hasn't been without problems or critics. Nothing humans do is perfect; there are mistakes to learn from and challenges to surmount. Nor can anyone break away from the status quo without someone lobbing tomatoes. But, Rwanda has stepped out in strength and in faith to do something that ought to be done, and it is doing it.
Adoption changes lives, and hopefully, you can see this in this shot of my wife and daughter. You get more than you give by adopting. If you're thinking of growing your family, please seriously consider adoption. And, if you wonder whether adopting a child really makes a difference against this global giant of a problem, please consider this:
David took down Goliath with one stone.