My last blog was filled with a lot of information about our personal experiences here with orphanages.
Now I want to combine my perspective with a book I am currently reading called "Orphan Justice" written by Johnny Carr.
Have you visited an orphanage on a short term trip?
Have you held precious kiddos in your arms and played with them- laughter bursting forth?
Have you spent any time in a Children's Home that is known for being "one of the good ones?"
I have spent time in many different orphanages here in Haiti and it fuels my desire for orphan care TO CHANGE. Johnny Carr says it in his book:
As followers of Jesus, we cannot be satisfied with children living in orphanages as a long term solution.
If you have visited, or if you have not, the reality of playing with children and you bringing them joy simply because you are visiting is NOT ENOUGH to offset the lack of quality living that only a family can give.
Imagine yourself as that child's parent. Would you be content with TONS of strangers coming into your home to love on your child and maybe take pictures? To play with them and bring out their joy but not have any boundaries? Then add in the fact that these strangers do not speak your language so there is no possible way for them to share teachable moments with your child. These strangers are coming in with the best of intentions, however, they are only bonding and then leaving the attachment behind.
"Perhaps you have fond memories of holding an orphan at one of those orphanages. But as we investigate what orphans need, I want to challenge you to be willing to consider the idea that while you might have good feelings associated with visiting orphanages, living in an orphanage might not be the best option for children."
Aside from attachment issues or whether or not you want to shut all the orphanages down (side note: I am not endorsing that because that would create a whole separate crisis at this time), I am simply suggesting we reconsider our stance on building orphanages, opening orphanages, funding orphanages that keep the children in the orphanage for their entire upbringing.
The only way to truly care for "orphans" and believe me- there are situations where children really are orphaned, abandoned, or the family is not fit to care for them- is to push for every child to have a forever family where they belong.
Look around you in your community, adjacent community, throughout your whole state and I will promise you that you will not find an orphanage. This next statement might sting a little but after living here and living out orphan care firsthand I am here to tell you it is the absolute truth and it needs to be shared.
"After all if we don't allow orphanages to exist in the United States, why are we content to build and sustain them in other countries? The goal of orphan care is caring for orphans, not the good feelings we get from our generosity in building or supporting an orphanage. Orphan care is not about us; it's about them."
The point of this blog is not to make you feel guilty, ashamed, hateful toward me for educating you on the hard truths, or make you want to shut down all the orphanages. The point of this blog is to relentlessly pursue justice and quality care for these kids. The children who find themselves victim to poverty, desperate for a momma's hug, missing the smile of their own brother or sister who Dad decided to keep, longing to belong and be loved unconditionally in a family setting.
No good-hearted person should be wanting to keep children in these institutional settings, deprived of all their basic needs. We should want better for them, we should want family for them.
In a blog to come, I will explore with you the ways Alex and I feel led to empower families here. I will share with you the heartbeat of this next year.
But for now, one last quote for you to chew on:
"Man made orphanages for children, but God made the family for children... He never intended for the growth, nurturing, and development of childhood to happen in an institution."
All of these quotes are mainly from chapter four of this book. Please consider looking into statistics of orphanages or reading a few books on the issues.
Prayerfully consider finding new ways to empower these kids to Abide in Love. Prayerfully consider how your impact can be one that truly mirrors God's heart for orphans and orphan care, instead of how man-made orphan care looks.
Thanks for checking out the tough stuff with me <3
Kristen & Alex Bradshaw