Thursday, May 7, 2009

World AIDS Orphans Day

Today, May 7, is World Aids Orphans Day. The magnitude of the orphan crisis overwhelms me to the point of paralysis sometimes. The statistics alone boggle my mind; I can't even comprehend the reality of these all these numerical digits connected to the word "AIDS orphans". Numbers like these...
  • There are over 15 million children orphaned by AIDS living around the world RIGHT NOW. 15 million is the equivalent to the number of all of the people living in New York, Paris, and Bangkok combined. That is an awful lot of children.
  • Well over 12 million AIDS orphans live in Sub-Saharan Africa, alone.
  • Experts believe that millions more orphans remain unaccounted for in India, China and Russia.
  • At least 10 million more children will be orphans by AIDS by 2010.

When we visited AHOPE we fell in love with the sweetest girl named Belane. We later learned that she was one of the first children to be adopted by a family in the U.S. Her mother is now working for AAI to facilitate the adoption of children at AHOPE and her blog post today is excellent and gives great ideas of what I, you, WE can do to make an impact. She includes this quote in her post from Rich Stearns, President of World Vision, US:

"I believe that this could very well be looked back on as the sin of our generation. I look at my parents and ask, where were they during the civil rights movement? I look at my grandparents and ask, what were they doing when the holocaust in Europe was occurring with regard to the Jews, and why didn't they speak up? And when we think of our great, great, great-grandparents, we think how could they have sat by and allowed slavery to exist? And I believe that our children and their children, 40 or 50 years from now, are going to ask me, what did you do while 40 million children became orphans in Africa?"

I think about my own son Elias, a former orphan. When I see him run and jump and feel him snuggle in to my neck to whisper "I love you Mom", I can't fathom the former life he had during the first 16 months of life. I can barely stand to think about the circumstances that led to his birth grandmother caring for him for as long as she could before she made the most unselfish decision on earth to take him to Sele Enat orphanage to be given up for adoption. I mean, it's almost phyically difficult for me to even type these words.

The reality is that now this boy is MY son and I have the honor to be his mom. I get to witness the way God's redemption and grace plays out in his life on a daily basis and the way he touches and loves people all around us, all the time. I get to laugh my head off at his funny jokes and fix him his favorite foods and drive matchbox cars around the couch together and even wipe his bottom.

But who is going to do that for the millions of children around the world who don't have a mom and dad to care for them?

I love the quote that AAI's director has as her tag line on her email signature: "Adoption doesn't change the world. But it can change the world for one child."

Adoption isn't the answer though. Solving the AIDS crisis is. Some might say you just don't have that "calling." I'd argue though that you do. We all do.

Don't know where to start? Here are a few ideas from Erin's post: Educate yourself and spread the word, sponsor an orphan, sponsor an organization that supports orphans and their communities, or even consider adoption.

There are lots of blog posts and articles today, May 7, about World AIDS Orphan Day. Maybe next year there will be even ten times the number, because many of us have spread the word. ANd perhaps even just two years from now, the statistics will be going down, not up. And a decade from now? Maybe there won't even be this World AIDS Orphan Day thing.


Jen said...

Thank you for posting about this..just being AWARE helps but it takes So little and is easy to forget as we get wrapped up in our own lives. You are so right this is becoming an issue in so many countries and it dosent seem like we could ever do ENOUGH..but as you know by helping one child it opens your heart and you just want to keep going...

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Erin said...

I read Erin Anderson's post yesterday. It was awesome and so is this.

martha said...

Tears come as I think of our family without Elias... can't imagine that! And the crisis that brought him to our family... can't fathom that. Very deep feelings reflecting on my daughter and husband's hearts AND action as they followed our Lord to bring Elias to us. Deep Thanksgiving and resolve to work with
Thanks for your beautiful post!

Ray and Lisa said...

Hey, thanks for writing this. I didn't realize it was World AIDS Orphans Day, or that there even was such a thing! Our lives have been deeply and personally touched by this crisis as well, and you're so right that everyone can and must do something!!

Christina said...

Great post friend. Love your reflections on your own adoption. It is a priviledge to see god's grace in our lives and our children's lives. Thanks for these good words!

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