Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Happy Orphans?

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2011 Nov 21





It's common to wax nostalgic for the past, to suggest that the "good old days" weren't just good - but great. If only we could turn back the clock, so the logic goes, all would be well.

The only problem with such a theory is that it's just so often not true. Case in point:

One hundred years ago, on April 14, 1911, the following headline appeared in the New York Times:


Youngsters from Many Institutions in the City Have Their Annual Merry Day

The article went on to highlight just who these orphans were, referring to them as "little waifs and strays, orphans and half orphans" who had their one "happy day" of the year at the Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Not to diminish or dismiss such an outing, but that would be just one happy day out of 365.

What's striking to me is this century-old mindset, the idea that though a child's life in an orphanage was not ideal, it was acceptable. As long as they had their annual outing, as long as they were treated to a day of fun under the big top, the problem wasn't all that bad. Besides, the plight of the orphan, as the thinking went, wasn't of concern to the average person. Institutional orphanages took care of orphans. So, that was that.

Times have changed, of course. That a child is deserving of a loving, forever home is now widely accepted. It is the ideal we now strive to achieve.

That's why we recognize tomorrow as National Adoption Day. All across the country, diverse coalitions of families, policymakers, judges and volunteers will be gathering to celebrate the beauty of adoption. Thousands of adoptions will be finalized in courtrooms in cities and towns, big and small.

For my dear friends Kelly and John Rosati, who appeared recently on the Focus on the Family broadcast (click here to listen), National Adoption Day holds special significance. The parents of four children, the Rosatis finalized the adoption of their daughter, Hope, on this day several years ago.

In fact, if you haven't already picked up a copy of Kelly and John's book, Wait No More, I would strongly urge you to do so. The Rosatis are a courageous and godly couple who have been faithful to God's call on their lives to do what they never thought they could do - adopt hurting children from the foster-care system.

One of the many things I love about Kelly and John is the honesty and candidness with which they tell their story. Adoption of kids coming from hard places is not for the faint of heart, they'll tell you. It's not a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. It's tough. It's trying. But it's also wonderful.

Here are the facts:

Foster care exists in some form in countries around the world. In the United States alone, we have more than 115,000 kids waiting to be adopted.

Because of neglect, abuse or other reasons, the biological parents have lost their parental rights and these kids are available.  And right now, they call the state "Mommy" and "Daddy." 

We have twice as many churches as we do needy kids. There is a great opportunity here for the church to step up and make a declaration about what we believe in. And I can't wait till the day comes where we can say one state, one country has wiped out that list of kids waiting for forever homes. To learn more about Focus on the Family's Wait No More ministry, please click here.

As we turn our attention to this special day tomorrow, perhaps it's time to pray about this crisis in our country and ask the Lord how He might want to use you to bring hope and cheer - and maybe a forever home - to a child in need.

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