Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Does this P*** You Off?

The first time I saw this map, it ticked me off. OK, it pissed me off. (Some of you may be more angry that I used the word pissed than you are about what is represented by the map, which also grates on my nerves, but hey, I try hard not to say anything controversial online any more but sometimes it just slips out.) I posted this old Tony Campolo quote on Facebook once:

“I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”

I loved his point. I did not love the many comments I received scolding me for using the word shit. I don't think they got the point. And I wasn't even using the word. I was quoting. It's different. :-)

But I digress.

So, why does this map piss me off? It's because somehow we as a church have decided that this caring for the most vulnerable of children is no longer our responsibility. Somehow we have decided that the government can raise our children and in case you haven't heard, they aren't doing a very good job of it. I'm pretty sure Jesus is confused as to how we got to the point of thinking it wasn't our problem.

I love the orphan care movement and the fact that we are trying hard to remind the church that it is time to step up.

So, in case you don't know what the map represent, the number at the bottom is the number of churches that are in the state. The number at the top is the number of legally free children there are available for adoption. These are legal "orphans" right here in our country.

So for example, when this map was created in Minnesota there were 5628 churches and 983 children waiting for adoption. So for every ONE child needing a home there are FIVE churches full of people who could adopt them. Those statistics haunt me, motivate me, and make me scream internally sometimes.

One of the reasons I moved to Virginia was because of the fact that Virginia is 50th in the nation at getting kids adopted out of foster care. After moving here I saw this map. There are over 10,000 churches in this state!!! And yet more kids (percentage wise) age out of foster care here in this state than any other.

What in the world are we going to do about that? It has to change!

I love this graphic from a satirical article found in the Babylon Bee. The article, "Report: 95% Of Christians Agree The Other 5% Should Keep Adopting" both made me smile at how clever it is but also made me profoundly sad.

I remember a very significant conversation that I had with Andrew and Michelle Schneidler when I spoke at Refresh the first year. Andrew compared foster care to a pipe. "There are two ways to keep kids from aging out of foster care without a family", Andrew pointed out to me. He went on to explain that we could either find homes for kids who were already in the system -- those in the pipe -- or we could prevent them from entering the pipe in the first place.

I spent the first 16 years of my adoption career working on the first issue... getting kids adopted from foster care and supporting families in their journey. And now I have the privilege of working for an organization that changes that statistic from the other end -- keeping kids from entering the system in the first place. But neither of those things can happen without the mobilization of the church.

There are so many ways to be involved, wherever you are, in this issue, and they don't all involve taking care of a child. If you want to know more, send me a FB message or make a comment on the blog, or email me, or text me, or send me a snapchat, or tweet me, or tag me on instagram, or pick up the phone, or even send me a letter... anyway you can contact me -- and I'll let you know of ways you can help.

OK, Nice to have all that off my chest this morning. :-) (Hope I didn't cause you too much concern by using a few naughty words to make my point).


Richard Stimpel said...

Great article Claudia. Keep up the good work.
Your friend and fellow adoptive parent ( of only 10), Rick Stimpel

S Yaroch said...

Claudia....Keep raising your "voice in the wilderness". Your little stone thrown into the vast pod DOES produce ripples.... A fellow adoptive parent of 3 amazing survivors... and an out-spoken advocate of the prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. (My way of trying to prevent the children from entering foster care and being "difficult to place".)

S Yaroch said...

vast pond....

Kelsie Janney said...

Thank you thank you thank you!
I'm an adopted child and am fully aware that I am one of the lucky ones. Please don't go silent on this issue. We need to step up as a church, but we need people like you to shake the church awake.
Again Thank you so much and God bless you!

jen said...

Hi-yes I'd like some information as to how to be more involved.

JennieBradstreet said...

I adopted a 16 year old so that he wouldnt age out of the system. It has been HARD. This child is so very broken and there isnt enough time to even get a bandaid put on before he becomes an adult. We went to our church at the beginning when we were looking at adopting and were discouraged in regards to adopting.
The church seemed to think it was much too big of a task for our family even though we knew God placed this kid in our charge.
The church refused to write letters of recommendation even though we were upstanding, active members of the church.
It became a huge issue between us and our church and eventually we chose to go to a church that had more of a focus on adoption and the importance of keeping these kids from aging out.
There were twenty two children adopted in the two years prior to us attending there. They had support groups, parent small groups, a collaborative of resources to help our children, like doctors, psychologists, dance therapy, music therapy, grandparent surrogates. I was phenomenal. They have begun to share their successes with churches locally and the movement might just be starting.
Would I adopt again? No. It was the single worst thing I could have done to a stable family. Do I regret adopting my son? No it was the single best thing I could have done to my stable family. We were shook up, to the core. We had to learn to regroup and refocus. We all had to learn to accept changes that came nearly everyday. We have some scars, but everyone knows that scars become the strongest part when they are healed.

Alice Erickson said...

If my husband and I had had a bigger house and money, we would have adopted a lot of kids. We fostered 22. Working with DCFS can be a pain. I love kids though and when I was a whole lot younger wanted to operate an orphanage. I have two adopted kids--both adults now.I would love to help in anyway I can to make changes.

Leslie Sirag said...

I'm not a Christian -- I'm Jewish (and incidentally, Jews seem to be adopting at an amazing rate), but my husband and I have adopted 5 older (8 to 14 when they came, 25 to 47 now) kids from US foster care. Was it hard? Absolutely -- we were dealing with agencies we barely knew existed, despite both working in social services, and our kids had problems we hadn't encountered and traumas that caused them to act out in unpredictable ways. Was it wonderful/ That too. The 4 oldest are now functioning members of society with kids, and even one grand, of their own, and happy to include us in their lives. Would we do it again, knowing what we know now? Since we're both in our 70s, not now, but we did learn from every kid and I think have valuable info and insights to pass on. If we were younger, probably yes.
We feel very privileged to be in our kids' and grands' lives, and think adopting them was probably the best thing we ever did.

Claudia said...

I love these responses!!!

Great to hear from those of you who have adopted.... JennyBradstreet I Love Love LOVE this quote:

"Would I adopt again? No. It was the single worst thing I could have done to a stable family. Do I regret adopting my son? No it was the single best thing I could have done to my stable family. We were shook up, to the core. We had to learn to regroup and refocus. We all had to learn to accept changes that came nearly everyday. We have some scars, but everyone knows that scars become the strongest part when they are healed. " That needs to be published somewhere!

To those wondering how you can help but can't adopt at this time (or adopt again)... look and see if there is a Safe Families program in your area. I am increasingly more impressed by the day by what they do.

Other things you can do are to talk to people about what the need, especially churches. There are many movements now where you can help -- you can look for CAFO members, check out Together for Adoption, ministries like Project 1:27 in Colorado, and conferences like Refresh in Seattle and Chicago. There is also a church/adoption/safefamilies conference coming up in Minnesota on November 12.

Leslie Sirag: Great story -- again, Was it hard? Yes. Was it wonderful? Absolutely. Love that!!!

Love knowing there are others out there who are as passionate as I am about some of these issues!