Without Family, But Not Without Hope
By now, we should’ve all started feeling those tingles of holiday cheer; planning our family get-togethers to celebrate and be merry. Tragically, for many millions of children around the world, this will not be so. Life has dealt them a cruel hand. One that brings struggle, and abandonment.
Without Family, But Not Without Hope
If you’ve been keeping up with DollarFund, you may have noticed that all of the issues we’ve chosen to champion are particularly devastating to children. Trafficking, clean water, hunger, and cancer all seem to reek the most senseless havoc on our younger generations. The old cliche, “children are the future” has never been more pertinent. The wellbeing of the world lays in the hands of our children, which is why we choose to bring focus to orphans and the parentless. This extraordinary and surprisingly complex issue has struggled to gain traction, due to the obscure statistics and resources, making it even more dire and in need of attention.
To be considered an orphan by UNICEF, a child needs to have lost only one parent. This differs from how Americans define “orphan” and can confuse when looking at the statistics. The HIV/AIDS epidemic of the mid 90’s created a sharp increase in parental deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa and sparked the beginning of the orphan crisis. Due to the nature of how HIV/AIDS is spread, it was deemed appropriate by UNICEF to figure that if one parent died due to the virus, their partners were also likely to become sick, leaving children on their own. Even if a partner survives, a single parent living in poverty is highly unlikely to be able to provide basic health and food needs.
There are an estimated 150 million orphans around the world, 18 million of which are “double orphans” – having lost both parents.
These numbers do not include children living on the streets, trafficked children, or child soldiers; all of which live without a parental or family structure, even if they are not technically orphans.
These figures have always been estimated due to a lack of being able to document children living outside of a household or government system, though it is assumed that the actual numbers are much higher.
What creates an orphan
5,760 orphans are created everyday due to a combination of reasons (that’s 2.1 million a year). As mentioned before, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been an enormous contributor since the mid-1990’s, claiming about one million lives every year. About 6% of which are children under the age of 15. It is impossible to say how many of the 940,000 adults were parents, though it is safe to assume that it’s most. Maternal mortality as a result of poverty and malnutrition, unwanted pregnancy and cultural shame, and violent conflicts, such as war, are all significant contributors to the large number of parentless children.
In The US
While poverty and illness have created a crisis abroad, there are plenty of children in need of parents here at home.
Half a million children are currently in the foster care system. 111,820 of those children are waiting to be adopted, while only about half are able to find themselves in permanent families. Roughly 60% of all children in foster care have been removed from their parent’s custody. These children are in desperate need of sound, stable families, and parental figures. Around 30,000 children become adults and “age out” before they are adopted, bringing about long-lasting feelings of abandonment and rejection.
What to do
Like many of DollarFund’s other causes, there is no silver bullet answer. Preventing orphans requires solving many of the worlds devastations, so in the meantime we must focus on making better lives for the current and future parentless. We do this by creating loving, nurturing, and permanent homes. Organizations like Foster for America are bringing much needed attention to child welfare in the US, while Global Adoption Services, Inc focuses on children in need of homes all over the world.
Dedication to being a foster or adoptive parent is an incredible undertaking that requires an all or nothing attitude. If you feel compelled to help, but cannot dedicate the needed time and space, become a mentor. The Boys & Girls Club offers excellent opportunities for children in need of reliable leadership examples.
Everyone deserves a home where they are safe and welcome. Help DollarFund spread the message for children in need of not just homes and parents, but of love and security. Show the world you’re in the giving spirit by being one of our monthly donors and spreading this story far and wide.