Heeding the Cry of the Orphan

Note: This commentary was delivered by PFM President Mark Earley.

Recently, the Washington Post highlighted the growing number of families who have added their names to a waiting list to adopt children with Down syndrome. It’s an encouraging trend, and one I’d love to see continue.

These are couples like Barbara and Tripp Curtis, who chose to adopt three more children with Down syndrome after their son, Jonny, was born with the condition. The couple opened their arms and hearts to others despite their already large family-eight other children. They did this because the love of Christ compels them. Let me explain.

After the adoption of their first child with Down syndrome, Barbara and Tripp received a phone call from a man who explained that his wife was pregnant with a Down syndrome baby. She had agreed not to abort the child if she could find a family willing to adopt the child. In an interview with Marriage Partnership magazine, Barbara and Tripp said, “God has extended such grace to us, how can we not extend grace to a child who needs a home?”

That’s a question more of us need to be asking. Whether it’s adopting a child with special needs, or even considering becoming a foster parent, we all need to make room in our hearts for those who hold such a close place in God’s heart.

The Book of James tells us that pure religion is looking after the needs of the orphan and the widow. In case you’re unaware just how great that need is, consider this: The United Nations reports that some 143 million children worldwide have lost one or both parents. That’s roughly equal to the population of Russia.

In 2003 alone, 16 million children were orphaned. Every 14 seconds, a child loses a parent to AIDS. And in our own country, more than 800,000 children pass through America’s foster care system each year. Some 120,000 of them can be adopted.

This month, Focus on the Family, Family Life, and Shaohannah’s Hope (founded by Steven Curtis Chapman), and nearly 50 other organizations are joining together in the Cry of the Orphan campaign. The campaign will raise awareness and encourage Christians to become involved in this issue of global concern.

If we truly value life, what better way to show it than by caring for life in its most vulnerable forms-from the baby addicted to crack, to the abandoned child with severe emotional issues, to the 17-year-old who is about to “age out” of the foster care system.

As the Cry of the Orphan campaign points out, adoption is only one of many ways that Christians can help. When you visit the campaign’s website, CryoftheOrphan.org, you can read about other ways to reach out, from praying for a child who is awaiting adoption, to becoming a court-appointed special advocate for an abused or neglected child, to even sponsoring an orphanage.

We Christians need to be on the front lines of the battle between the culture of life and the culture of death. Yes, we must speak out for life, but our actions must speak even louder than our words. What better way to value every human being than by opening our hearts and our homes to the most vulnerable among us?

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage