Many of us were touched recently by 15 year old Davion Only, who bravely stood in front of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Florida pleading for a forever family. It has been reported that over 10,000 individuals and families inquired about adopting Davion after his plea received national attention. Requests came in from the US, Great Britain, Mexico, Canada, India and other places around the world. It was reported that websites were crashing and phone lines were going down due to the outpouring of interest in providing Davion with a home. Thankfully, it seems that there will not be a shortage of families for Davion.
I hope that his story incites lasting interest for families seeking to adopt and that his story inspires others to look more closely at the possibility of adopting older children. It’s inspiring to see the responses of people wanting to help when an older child’s story is made visible, like Davion’s story was. However, for every visible older child in need of a home, we know that there are hundreds, thousands or perhaps millions of others waiting for a family.
These “invisible” children are also in desperate need of loving and permanent homes, but we often do not have the opportunity to hear their stories. According to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), there are estimated to be over 400,000 children in foster care in the US and approximately 100,000 of those who could be adopted. The average age of children adopted through foster care is 8 ½ years old.
Internationally, it is estimated that there are 153 to 163 million orphans in our world and 17,900,000 orphaned children who have lost both parents and living on the streets or in orphanages. Of those millions of children in need internationally only 8,668 were adopted by US citizens in 2012 according to the US State Department. The overwhelming majority of the children in need of families both in the US and abroad are over the age of five. Older children are some of the children who are in greatest need of adoption.
The orphan crisis is so vast that the numbers can almost be numbing and static. It’s difficult to comprehend the need of so many millions of children, yet impossible not to feel contacted to the story of one child. Each of these millions of children has their own story, often a story of a traumatic and difficult past, like Davion. When our team travels to orphanages abroad we have a unique opportunity to see the older children in need of families. Sometimes we hear their stories, other times we don’t know much about them, besides the limited interactions we have, but often the eyes of these children say it all. These older kids know they have limited opportunities for a family and are often yearning to be loved and be part of a family, just like Davion.
For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please click here.