Thursday, August 11, 2011

Orphanage Closures

Unsettled emotions have been swirling around in my head and my heart over the past 5 days.  Over the weekend, we had heard rumor that several orphanages in Southern Ethiopia had been shut down without any given reason and without any warning.  We hadn't heard anything about this from our agency, so I reasoned in my head that the closures must not have affected any of the orphanages within the organization associated with our adoption agency.  I genuinely felt bad for the adoptive families it was affecting, and my heart felt broken for the children/families that it would affect in Ethiopia, but the statement didn't exactly hit home...then I received an email with the list of the orphanages that had been shut down.

The US Dept of State verified that within the past few weeks, eight orphanage systems (14 branches) had in fact been shut down by the Ethiopian Government, with one of them being the orphanage system that Dove (our agency) works with. Out of the 14 total branches that were closed, 3 were intake centers for our orphanage. (An intake center is the branch of the orphanage where a child is first relinquished, either by their family or by government authorities. The children receive medical testing, and physical care at the intake centers until they are matched with an adoptive family, then they are transferred to a "transition home" where they stay until the adoption is final and they are signed out by their forever family.) According to our agency, no clear explanation has been given as to why the numerous intake centers have been closed, other than the decision was made by the regional government and each orphanage is currently "under investigation."

Today we received word from our agency stating our orphanage (SOS EE) is still operating its remaining 20 intake centers as normal. After speaking with our attorney in Ethiopia, they found out that the investigation was initiated because of funding issues, as well as some internal conflict with SOS EE's board of directors, leading to the termination of the orphanage's manager.  Our attorney encouraged our agency's Executive Director by relaying that a new manager has already been appointed and will begin working on Monday (Aug 15), a new budget has been set, funds have been dispersed to each of the care centers and most importantly the children are still being well cared for.  He also stated that things are "progressing in a positive manner" and that the issues are being resolved.

To be honest, I'm not really sure what to do with all of this news.  I have so many questions, yet our agency doesn't know how to answer them as they don't have all the answers themselves.  How did the orphanage get into the predicament of an "investigation" in the first place? Was the manager really terminated over misappropriation of funds? I feel myself questioning the situation from an ethical standpoint, yet I know our agency and the SOS EE orphanage are both reputable organizations...believe me, we did our research before deciding on an agency to then why is all of this unfolding before our eyes? What part of God's plan has been purposed for this situation?  I know that all things work together for his good. I believe that with my heart, if I can be blatantly honest, my mind is doing a stutter-step into the belief. Southern Ethiopia is an extremely poor and destitute area.  Many families find themselves with the heart breaking decision of taking their children (some or all) to an orphanage for care or actually watching them die from starvation and/or from simple, curable ailments like dehydration or diarrhea from their unclean water sources.  These are true, hard facts for life in this area. With the closure of 14 orphanage intake centers, many families will undoubtedly lose family members prematurely with little hope of finding care for them. What a terrible situation, I can't even imagine living it.  We have no idea how blessed we are...simply because we were born in a different country.  These horrible conditions could easily be my living conditions if I had been born half a world away, yet I can't really fathom it as I sit comfortably, in a chair, at a table, in front of a computer, wearing a new shirt, in my air conditioned house. Hear me on this, I'm not saying we should feel badly about what we do have or what we've been blessed with, but I do think we should feel pained about what simple life necessities others don't have...and we should try to do something about it.

"Do good. Seek Justice. Defend the cause of the orphan." Isaiah 1:17

It's such simple language, such simple instructions, yet such a challenge to live out daily. As I continue to sift through the events and news of this week pertaining to our adoption, I pray that my heart will continually be broken for the things that break God's heart...and that each day, I would be challenged in new ways to carry out these commands with my life.

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