adoptee · Educational · international adoption · orphan · reform

“Millions of Orphans”?

Miriam James

You’ve probably heard the claim that there are somewhere between 130 and 165 million orphans globally, a number which actually has its origins with UNICEF. We generally consider orphans to be those who have no parents, but nearly 90% of the number of orphans just stated has actually only lost one parent. Of the rest, there is no distinction between those in need of adoption and those who are being cared for by other family members. It’s important to note the number coming from UNICEF as UNICEF uses it to draw in all sorts of assistance, being an organization which provides a large range of interventions.

So, “In the context of the adoption-focused adoption and orphan care movement, however, the statistics can paint a very misleading picture of how many children are in need of adoption.” Rather, in most of these cases, adoption would be an inappropriate response.

When I’ve heard the call for all Christians to just adopt these needy children (presumably to end the orphan crisis) I’ve wondered, especially given the state of corruption, were there a huge surge in international adoption demand, if that would ignite the very opposite response: with intermediaries racing to double the supply. Already, “all too frequently adoption goes looking for orphans, dollars in hand, and ends up creating paper orphans…

This is not said to be nihilistic, but to change the conversation. There are indeed many needy families in the world, but adoption is not the catch-all solution and instead is often worsening the problem, distracting from the meaningful progress of alleviating poverty and keeping families intact.

2 Kings 4:1-7


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