Sarah wants to know why people say that some people shouldn't be able to adopt. She gets the part about people who neglect and abuse children not being able to add to their families. Boy, does she ever get that. What she doesn't understand is... well, let me back up.
Sarah had just turned five when my wife and I met her in a Russian orphanage. At that time we adopted her younger biological sister and an unrelated little boy, too. As we were finishing those adoptions, we learned that Sarah had older biological sisters and it took another 18 months to find and adopt two more teenaged siblings, to add to the four boys we had before becoming involved with adoptions from Russia.
My daughter and her siblings were removed from abandoned shacks where an alcoholic mother abused them to the brink of death. All of my daughters can show you scars as witnesses of the abuse they suffered. My daughters don't have to ask what hell is. That's where they came from. I'm not talking about orphanages. I'm talking about where they and their friends existed before being rescued by orphanages. Still, orphanages are a significantly inferior solution to families. Not only that, orphanages are a temporary salvation. Orphanages in Russia turn their residents out on the street as early as 15 years of age. According to Orphans Lifeline of Hope International, 60 percent of the girls turn to prostitution to support themselves. Seventy percent of the boys become hardened criminals. Orphans Lifeline also references a Russian study where of 15,000 orphans who aged out of Russian orphanage in one year, 5,000 were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless and 3,000 were in prison within three years. Life expectancy for a person who ages out of a Russian orphanage is thirty-one. Over ten percent of them commit suicide within a year after aging out of the system. Only ten percent of these people who age out of the system will experience what we would consider a successful life.
That's what happens when children are raised outside of families, never learning how to act in families, to lead families, and to build families.
Most of today's orphans, at least outside of the AIDS epidemic in Africa, have at least one parent living. Some people would like to say that means there isn't an orphan epidemic. Okay, I'll yield to the argument of semantics. If social orphans are not "orphans" then the numbers are lower than estimates put them. Still, there are far too many children without parents. And while throwing money at some of those parents might allow them to care for their own, that is simply not the case for many families, where children have been neglected and abused on horrific levels. These children need parents. They need new parents. They will never be able to go back to where they came from, nor should they.
Sarah couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about whether the LGBT community should be able to adopt. What's an LGBT? If there is a question as to whether people should be able to adopt, or not, it must be bad, right? Well, my daughter is thirteen, now, and she does know what gay means. So the explanation to the "what" part of her question was simple. The why didn't come as easy. Sarah thinks that all children should be able to have a family. She understands that some families have less material things than others. She understands that some families fight more than others, or have other less desirable circumstances. But she also understands that children need families, just like she did.
Now we hear of those who are against Christians adopting if they call their efforts a mission. Tragic, right? A child who doesn't have parents gets them because someone wants to put their own religious label on it. Sign the petitions! Call out the national guard! Separate church and state! Separate church and adoption. Separate church and ANYTHING! I'm telling you, my daughter doesn't understand that, either.
My four daughters are biological siblings who lived in four different orphanages when they were in Russia. They ranged in ages from almost three to 15 when they joined our family. One of them was very sexually active before she joined us. Sexual practices at her orphanage were out of control. She was gang raped on a number of occasions. And anyone who thinks that sexual practices in an orphanage are strictly heterosexual, has another think coming. Those who believe that children will learn more and better "morals" in an orphanage than they would living with parents of the same gender, are naïve, at best. Those who don't want children to grow up "brainwashed into Christianity" had better consider the alternative!
I listen to adults spew hatred and scream about the unfairness of labels while placing their own labels on someone else. I watch adults trying to decide who shouldn't be able to adopt.
There are those who think that because of some of my beliefs, I should side with the adults on the far right and pick up my sword and go to war against those in the LGBT community who want to adopt. There are others who would love me to support their position by saying that there is no orphan crisis and that children shouldn't be forced into Christianity. All of these adults can't figure out why I haven't joined an army.
Well, here it is. I'm finally coming out. I have decided that I am going to choose a side. This time I'm going to side with my daughter. I'm choosing the side of the children. I have seen droves of children who ache to have families. I am choosing them. I am choosing families. And I'm siding against anyone who would stop it.
You know, we used to tell children to "grow up." I'm not sure that's good advice any more. If my children need to pick a side where adults argue at the expense of children, as a requirement of growing up, then I hope mine never do.