THE AMERICAN ORPHAN CRISIS 4 0 0,0 0 0 K IDS IN THE U.S. A RE DISPL ACED, AND THE SYSTEM IS CRUMBLING. B Y E M I LY M C FA R L A N M I L L E R
It was January 2005, the 32nd anniversary of landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade, and Randy Bohlender, his wife, three sons and thousands of other pro-life supporters turned out on Capitol Hill. They were there to pray for an end to abortion. Not surprisingly, they were met by strong vocal opposition. And one person actually yelled a question that changed Bohlender’s life: “They said, ‘If you had your way, if Roe v. Wade was overturned, what are you going to do with all the babies who would be born?’ “And, you know, that’s valid,” he says. “Sometimes your critics are right.” During the past decade in the United States, thousands of Christians have come to the conviction that being pro-life means being more than pro-birth. And they’ve embraced adoption and foster care.
“The Church at its best has been known as a people who care for orphans,” says Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO), a network of more than 150 Christian organizations and churches. The early church was known for taking in children Romans had abandoned in a practice known as “exposure.” But many modern American Christians first came face to face with adoption in the early 2000s as the world began to shrink and the speed of technology and ease of travel introduced them to children in crisis all over the globe. That’s when a number of prominent Christians began to speak about—mostly international—adoption, including musician Steven Curtis Chapman, pastor Rick Warren and theologian Russell Moore. “International adoption became a big catalyst for many other expressions for care for orphans, including both international service and engagement with foster care,” Medefind says. Since international adoption peaked in 2004, scandals and politics have forced countries to close or limit adoptions. The number of international adoptions reported by the U.S. Department of State