Friday, February 1, 2013

Pure and faultless religion

On our best days, we Christians strive to line our hearts up with the heart of God. Tall order, no doubt. In our search to find the Divine Will, we cannot avoid that unambiguous verse, James 1:27, that defines pure and faultless religion as taking care of orphans in their distress. Since we don't  often encounter orphans, their uncomfortable reality is easy to avoid.

I am not an expert on adoption, but I had a crash course during our adventure described in  But the Greatest of These is Love. After that enlightenment, I cannot go back into the darkness of ignorance.

The statistics are heartbreaking. My knowledge is limited to Russian orphans, but, tragically, there is no short supply of orphans anywhere in the world.

The Russian Children Welfare Society reports,
  • 740,000 orphans live in Russia, a troubling number that grows by 113,000 per year, according to UNICEF.
  • Less than 3% of those children are being considered for adoption by Russian families.
  • Approximately 95% are "social" orphans, meaning they have at least one living parent who has relinquished them to the negligent care of the broken state system.  
  • The number of orphanages in Russia in 2012 was 2,176, up 100% in the last decade. The facilities often lack basic necessities such as heat, running water, and functional kitchens. 
According to the Russian Ministry of Education
  • 1500 children leave the orphanages each year, usually at the age of 16 or 17, as they "age out" of the system, poorly equipped to function in society.
  • 50% fall into a high risk category after graduation.
  • 40% became involved in criminal activity.
  • 10% commit suicide.
  • 33% remain unemployed.
  • 20% become homeless.
  • Only 4% are admitted to universities.
According to the Ministries of Internal Affairs
  • 2.5 million children born in Russia are homeless.
  • 50% of Russian children are born into poverty.
  • In the last decade, the number of children in Russia has decreased by 4 million. Over four times more abortions are recorded than live births. 
  • 617,000 Russian children are disabled. Twenty babies a day are born to HIV mothers, two of which will be abandoned at birth. 
  • 70% of medical equipment in hospitals are outdated or broken. 
  • 60% of Russia's youth are in poor physical or psychological health.
  • Only 15-20% of newborn Russian babies are considered healthy. 
These statistics paint a dismal picture of innocent children at risk—the "least of these."

Yet, God has promised that he will not leave us orphans. What is our responsibility, now that we know the facts? This knowledge becomes more important, now, with the ban on American adoptions pending in Russia. This political move will devastate the children languishing in orphanages, especially the handicapped ones, who are warehoused in asylums, left to die, starved of human contact, even those with minor physical handicaps.

I invite you to watch this heartbreaking, yet hopeful Dateline report The Boy From Baby House 10, a true, and perhaps typical account of the life of a boy in an orphanage, except Vanya is one of the few who make it out of the system, due only to a few people who took an interest in him.

If your heart is tugged to help, and it will be if you have a pulse, please consider getting involved on some level with an orphan care organization, such as Orphan Care Resources. One hundred percent of the profits of my book will be donated to some type of orphan care, including OCR and direct gifts to hosting and adopting families.

What can you do to help?

No comments:

Post a Comment