Orphan Care in Times of National Disaster

Orphans & National DisasterOn October 3rd, as the news began to swell with reports on Ebola, I made a post about how Ebola is affecting orphans. I didn’t actually have a lot to say on the subject. I shared the few things I’d learned about the impact of the virus on orphans and reminded you that the yellow journalism that makes up our news can’t be blindly trusted. Despite my unoriginal content, that post has been getting quite a few hits. That’s not really surprising. Everyone is thinking about and therefore Googling Ebola. It’s been interesting to track the search terms that lead people to TIO. Here’s the phrases used today and yesterday:

  • How to adopt an ebola orphan
  • How to adopt african orphans from ebola
  • Children of ebola how to help
  • Ebola orphans adoption
  • Ebola orphans pictures
  • Adopt ebola orphans
  • Ebola orphans
  • Any groups helping ebola orphans

Like I said. The post has been getting quite a few hits. I’m sure that you noticed a trend as you read the search terms listed above. Over the past two weeks, the searches leading to my blogs have increasingly been about adoption. It’s wonderful that people are aware that Ebola orphans need help, but helping during times of upheaval is a delicate process.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that international adoption is near and dear to my heart, but I wrestle with seemingly opposite ethical issues involved in the process. If you follow me elsewhere on social media, you might also know that I’ve been (very) slowly trying to slog my way through The Child Catchers. To be quite frank, I wholeheartedly dislike the book. I disagree with much of what the author has to say and find her manner of presenting her content frequently offensive. However, as I mentioned to my brother this week, she raises some very valid points.

One of the stories shared in that book gave me a lot of food for thought. The author shared how, after the earthquake in Haiti, the US went into a Haitian adoption frenzy. The efforts to airlift orphans out of the country and onto American soil were spearheaded by well-meaning, but often uninformed individuals riding the wave of media attention. Now, sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures. When a situations like the Haitian earthquake or Ebola occur, it’s entirely appropriate to pull out all the stops to save lives and minister to people in need–especially orphans. That wasn’t the part that got me thinking. What did bother me was reading that many children with surviving parents were whisked out of the country without proper documentation. Children whose biological parents still wanted them. Some of those kids were adopted into the US and never returned to the parents who never surrendered them.

My point is, by all means, search for ways to help Ebola orphans. Be persistent about it. Don’t let children suffer and die and go uncared for. But at the same time, learn from the mistakes of the past. When a country is in turmoil, mistakes are easy to make. Mistakes that can permanently sever families and do children more harm than good.

If you’re one of the people coming to this blog after searching, “how to adopt an Ebola orphan,” please keep this in mind. Adoption is a wonderful, beautiful thing. But handled in the wrong way, it can cause a lot of pain and grief. Please, do not grow weary in well doing, but be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove in your quest to help.

What do you think? Have you found any ways to help Ebola orphans? Does your church support a missionary in a country affected by Ebola? Have you learned anything about this “national” disaster or any other disaster that could guide you in helping orphans in an informed way? How has the Ebola scare affected you personally?

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