Confession #53: Orphanages are a “Lifetime Commitment”… Or is There a Better Way?
Most orphanages, at some point, are started by a well-meaning religious organization. The thing about starting an orphanage, though, is that it is a LIFETIME COMMITMENT. When you take in a child, you need to have a game-plan for that child’s entire life. Starting an orphanage essentially means that you are adopting all of the children in that orphanage’s care, until they are adults. And those kids do not stop being dependents just because your church cuts their budget, or finds a new pet project, or changes staff. Starting an orphanage is a major, major endeavor, and to be honest I’m getting a little tired of how quickly and flippantly churches are getting involved in orphanage work, without a clue as to how they will care for these kids in the long-term.
Many orphanages may manage to take care of a child’s basic human needs, but will still fail to offer a child the nurture, attention, and supervision that any of us would consider basic parenting standards in the US. In fact, I would venture to say that most orphanages are failing to offer this . . . even the very best ones. That is because an institution can never replace a family. Parenting is hard. It requires presence and focus and determination. It cannot be achievement in a large-group setting with a rotating door of staff. It is unrealistic to think that any institution can properly “parent” a child. Third world children do not deserve to be raised in a setting that we would never approve of for our own kids.
– Kristen Howerton, Rage Against the Minivan
If you are engaged at all in adoption, orphan care, missions, orphanages, or child sponsorship programs, I highly recommend you read further. It is time for us to start asking the hard questions. Are we really doing what is best for orphaned children?