Our own Becky Hartke…
By Marci Lewellen on March 18th, 2010

Becky writes,

Since January, I have been working for a non-profit organization called the Orphan Justice Center as the assistant to the director of operations.  Although this organization has been around for over a year and works with many families in the process of restoring broken and at-risk children through foster care and adoption, we are still very much in the pioneering stages.  We are continually figuring out what does and does not work as well as what kind of organization we want to be and how to define/walk out our vision.

Today, I have been hit hard with the gravity of what we’re doing.  Unlike many organizations that exist to raise awareness about adoption or even assist families in the adoption process (though we do both of these things), the main question that we are faced with and endeavor to address is, “What happens after you adopt?”  Though our vision is to see thousands of adoptions take place in the body of Christ and for the entire American foster care system emptied of its children through an adoption revolution, adoption (a.k.a. family placement) is not enough.

The goal is wholeness. Adoption is more than a one-time commitment–it is an entire life alteration.  It is taking in a child who is not like you and who may hate all that you are.  It is saying, “I will keep you no matter what you do because you are my child.”  It is taking the time, energy, money, discipline, community, and love to see a child fully integrated into 1) your family and 2) society.  It is taking a child screaming in your face that he hates you when you have sown thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours into simply telling him that he is loved.  It is investing as much of yourself into one person as you would if they were your own flesh and blood.  It is real parenthood, for the rest of your life. And it is hard.  It is not romantic.

Why is it so hard to see orphaned, at-risk, and foster care children restored?  Because very few people understand and are able to commit to the what it demands.  To give you a more firm grasp on the issue, here are some statistics on foster care in the United States:

There are more than half a million children and youth in the U.S. foster care system, a 90% increase since 1987. Three of 10 of the nation’s homeless are former foster children. A recent study has found that 12-18 months after leaving foster care:
27% of the males and 10% of the females had been incarcerated
33% were receiving public assistance
37% had not finished high school
50% were unemployed

*Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support

Children in foster care are three to six times more likely than children not in care to have emotional, behavioral and developmental problems, including conduct disorders, depression, difficulties in school and impaired social relationships. Some experts estimate that about 30% of the children in care have marked or severe emotional problems. Various studies have indicated that children and young people in foster care tend to have limited education and job skills, perform poorly in school compared to children who are not in foster care, lag behind in their education by at least one year, and have lower educational attainment than the general population.

*Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support

80 percent of prison inmates have been through the foster care system.

*National Association of Social Workers


So what’s to be done?  That’s what the Orphan Justice Center is trying to answer.  The answer is not going to come quickly and it’s not going to be easy to implement.  Ultimately, it comes down to seven long-term commitments every family who is considering adoption must make:

  • Awareness
  • Preparation
  • Placement
  • Permanence
  • Restoration
  • Wholeness
  • Replication

I intend to write more to elaborate on each of these aspects, so to be continued…

March 18th, 2010

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Grandview, MO 64030

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