How many of you knew that we have orphans in the United States? I encounter people every day who haven’t the foggiest idea that we have [100,000] orphans who need families in the United States.
And part of the reason is because we don’t have orphanages on the street corner. Remember way back in the day, if you were to drive home past a building and it was St. Joseph’s, and it would remind you, you would think about those kids who didn’t have parents. Maybe you’d pray for them.
Now our orphans are embedded, and they are hidden in the foster care system. And frankly, they are also the kids that society says probably would’ve been better off being aborted and, number two, right now are really unadoptable. Because you know what, they are teenagers, they are sibling groups, they are kids with special needs.
I’ve got to tell you, not a lot of people want those kids. Even in the church, not a lot of people want those kids.
You say, “Why do you say that? Christians adopt all the time.” And, of course, we do. But with 100,000 orphans waiting for families, and 300,000 churches in the United States of America, we can all do the math. If just one family in every third church welcomes home one of these modern-day orphans, we don’t have orphans in the U.S. anymore.
Can you imagine the testimony and the witness to abba, father, in this nation if we eliminated, because of the church of Jesus Christ, the roles of modern-day orphans that nobody else wants? That is the opportunity before us.
COVERAGE: The 2016 Wilberforce Weekend
The Bible says God is a gather to the fatherless. And of course we know James 1:27 says pure religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless — pure and faultless — is this: “to look after widows and orphans in their distress, and keep oneself unstained by the world.”
As I thought about the three things we are talking about here this weekend — promoting good, resisting evil and restoring brokenness — I thought about this idea of welcoming home the orphan. Everybody can see how that promotes good. We are for the family. We know about child well-being. We know about human flourishing. We know what God designed for that.
And then we talk about resisting evil. I would submit to you that one of the great evils that we need to, in fact, resist is the evil of children suffering in our midst and us turning away. If we are followers of Christ, who live perfectly comfortable lives while suffering swirls around us, and we are not people who run to the suffering, then I think we have missed it.
I have a friend named David. When he was 4 years old, he and his 2-year-old brother went into foster care.
David grew up his entire life in care. He was in some 17 different settings, ultimately in a group home. And when he became 18, he was out on his own, walked out of the facility. No job, no money, no family.
For those of you who have had kids that are 18, it’s scary enough when they go off. Can you imagine becoming an adult who belongs nowhere and with no one? That was David’s story. When he met and married his wife, no one came to their wedding. Can you imagine? This is the future that we are facing if the church and followers of Jesus Christ do not come for the waiting kids.
But there’s lots of good news. At Focus on the Family, we have a program called the “Wait No More: Finding Families for Waiting Kids.”
And we go into communities we partner with state governments, local governments adoption agencies, churches, everybody in that space who cares that there are orphans down the block from where you live. And we get them together, and we talk about God’s heart for the orphan; we talk about the needs of the kids. And then they get to hear perspectives from moms and dads and from folks that were adopted.
And, at the end of the time, they are able to actually begin the process of adoption on that day. And we have seen God do truly miraculous things as a result.
I’m real passionate about this, not just because this gets to be my job, which makes me very blessed, but my husband and I were blessed that our four kids came to us through adoption from foster care. In our family we are Korean, Hawaiian, Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, Micronesian, Italian and Irish. So we are all mixed up.
My kids have also given me permission to talk about the fact that we are also walking through, and have been walking through for 15 years, issues of severe mental illness, of children having been born addicted to crystal meth amphetamines, to children having been born addicted to alcohol and the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome.
I say it that way to remind you that these things are very, very important, and they are part of the reason why families who do welcome home kids with severe trauma histories need the support of their church families. Every one of my kids is so worth every bit of the pain and the difficulty. And God has used that pain and that difficulty to change us and to conform us into the image of his son.
• Kelly M. Rosati is vice president of community outreach at Focus on the Family, and oversees its Adoption & Orphan Care Inititative as well as other pro-family programs. This excerpt is from her April 9, 2016, remarks at the Wilberforce Weekend in Arlington, Virginia.