Someone called recently asking to sponsor a child at Grace Baptist Church. I'll call the person Pat. Pat is very excited to sponsor a child. We talked through the process of sponsorship and about Ethiopia. As we were about to hang up Pat said, "You know sponsoring a child isn't like what you guys did."
me- What did we do?
Pat- You know you adopted. That's much better than sponsoring a child.
me- (deep breath) You know Pat, in some ways sponsoring a child is much better than adoption. Adoption removes the child from his/her culture, separates them from any remaining family, their native land, language, etc. When sponsoring a child you are potentially keeping a family together, you are bring hope to a child through education, you are are helping bring up new leaders in their own country.
Pat- How much it cost to adopt a child in Ethiopia?
Me- between $24,000 and $30,000
Pat- Why don't you take that money and use it to sponsor 65 children for the next 10 years.
Me- I have certainly thought about it.
I have thought about this conversation many times over the last few weeks. In many ways I am conflicted. Adoption is beautiful, a commitment, a way to bring a family together. However, it is more complicated than that. Many children become orphans because the parents or a surviving parent cannot no longer afford to feed or cloth the child because of economic hardships. They are forced to choose to give up a child whom they love so that child will survive. It's really heart breaking when you think about it.
Please do not misunderstand me. Orphans need loving homes, adoption fulfills that need. But I cannot help wondering if we can slow down the number of children abandoned or relinquished if we try to keep the family together in the first place.
I know everyone is not called to adopt. I am certain we are. I know we are committed to caring for the orphans and widows. We do that in many ways: sponsoring children, micro-financing, mission trips to help build infrastructure in communities, etc. Sponsoring a child in a wonderful alternative to adoption or perhaps a "supplement" to adoption. It is wonderful way to "pay it forward" keeping a child with his or her family. Please contact me if you are interested in sponsoring a child- firstname.lastname@example.org