If you’ve seen the most recent US Department of State Report on Intercountry Adoptions you know how much Ethiopian international adoptions have been decreasing. When we welcomed our daughter into our family from Ethiopia in 2008, she was one of almost 3,000 Ethiopian children adopted by Americans that year. Now, in 2014, only 716 Ethiopian children were adopted and the expectation is that the number will continue to decline. We deeply feel for those who have been caught in the bureaucracy surrounding adoption over the past few years – we have tasted a bit of that struggle. We pray for you as you keep struggling towards seeing your adopted children join your family.
At the same time that international adoptions from Ethiopia are declining, there is a growing movement of Ethiopians who are adopting domestically. This has been wonderful to see as Kidmia, Bethany Services and others have opened doors for Ethiopian families to adopt Ethiopian orphans. It is a beautiful to see children welcomed into Ethiopian families who will raise those children as their own in Ethiopia. The movement is starting small – but it is growing and is super exciting.
But let’s face it. With international adoptions declining and the cost of living increasing in Ethiopia, the potential is great that there will be more children orphaned who would not otherwise need to be. That is why Orphan Prevention is More Important than Ever.
Why do I feel it is an important season to respond now to this issue? Here are four reasons as I see them.
1. Declining Adoptions. With the decline in adoptions, it is more evident than ever that if we care to see children have parents, then we are going to have to keep them in their families of origin. We have had the privilege over the last 4 years of seeing 196 children kept in their families and not orphaned. It is beautiful. But it is a drop in the bucket. We turn away dozens every week who need services. Our local authorities plead with us to please intervene in the lives of families who are in desperate need. There need to be strategies to give those children in orphanages loving families, to deal with children who truly are double orphaned, to promote local adoption AND to prevent children from being orphaned in the first place.
2. Economics. The economic situation in Ethiopia is changing quickly. If you visit the city you will see development everywhere – new roads, new light rail, new buildings…construction, construction, construction. Affluence seems to be growing throughout our great city. At the same time, on the ground it appears that the poor are becoming more marginalized. Imagine being a Mom and your salary has grown by 40% over the past 4 years while you have watched the price of your housing climb by 600% and food climb by 250%. As an example, Moms in the slum used to rent simple mud rooms for 85 ETB per month. The same room is now 600 ETB per month! Bananas four years ago were 3.5 ETB per kilo. Now they are 13 ETB per kilo! This was a staple that you used to be able to afford no matter what. How could you survive as a Mom trying to feed her kids? That is why we literally have lines of women wanting to enter the program. Without intervention, many children potentially will be orphaned simply for economic reasons. We must intervene.
3. The Gospel. Our response to Jesus includes a call to the orphan AND the widow. This response is not just to simply clothe them and feed them, but it also is to see them have loving relationships around them that over time can point the way to Jesus. Over the past couple of years we saw the need for us to have a way to minister to parents and children – not simply with development activiity, but also by ministering to them spiritually. Last year we had the privilege of starting EHE Spiritual Ministries. Today EHE Spiritual Ministries has a dozen moms who are in a Bible Study, and over 100 children involved in after school Bible Clubs. We also have a place where Moms can come for spiritual counseling andmoms are visited in their homes and prayed for if desired. It is a great season to be able to minister to families in holistic ways- body and soul.
4. Awareness. It seems like over the past year or two there has been more talk about orphan prevention than ever before. Along with that are thousands of parents who grew their families through adoption and tens of thousands of people who visited Ethiopia on Awareness trips. The number of people whose eyes are opened to the need for orphan prevention is unprecedented. If these tens of thousands of people turned toward raising awareness within their churches and social circles – there potentially could be huge amounts of resource available to see orphans prevented and families preserved. There would be room for ministries like EHE to keep adding new families, but also the potential for dozens of new projects to start who could address the huge scope of need in ethical ways. Our eyes have been opened so that we might DO something.
Right now we have a great opportunity and an amazing responsibility in seeing families stay together and orphans prevented. Would you join us?We have 127 sponsorship slots left to fill and then we’ll be ready to add another 40 families to the EHE project. For as little as $34 per month you can help us keep a family together and receive holistic interventions. Check out our sponsorship page at www.EmbracingHopeEthiopia.com/sponsorships/ and help us to preserve families and prevent orphans in the Kore’ Slum of Addis Ababa Ethiopia.