Orphan care, especially adoption, has a special place in my heart and in my husband’s heart. We decided when we were engaged that we wanted to adopt one day. And we plan to do so.
God began cultivating my heart for adoption long before I even realized it. I experienced the reality of adoption when I was 11 years old and my parents adopted a six-week-old baby girl born to a teenager who had no way to care for her.
I began to understand the beauty of adoption better as a young adult after I spent a week serving in orphanages in Guatemala. Soon after, the Lord opened my eyes to the parallel between earthly adoption and spiritual adoption.
I was startled by the need for adoption when I was introduced to the fact that – at the time – there were more than 140 million orphans worldwide. That was around 2007.
There are now 153 million orphans worldwide. That does not include the “the vast number of children who are living on the streets, exploited for labor, victims of trafficking, or participating in armed groups.”
And then there are those who are in the U.S. foster care system – 415,129 children to be exact, as of September 30, 2014. (That’s a four percent increase from 2012.) In the United States, a child enters foster care every two minutes.
What’s the difference between orphans and foster children? Adoption.com explains:
Children are placed in foster care typically because they have been removed from their homes by the state due to lack of proper care, and/or the parents/guardians are unable to care for their children for various reasons. Whereas children in orphanages have been orphaned, abandoned, or left there by parents who are unable to care for them for various reasons—typically due to lack of finances to properly care for them. They want more for their children than they can provide at the time.
Although many countries around the world still utilize orphanages, they no longer exist in America. Instead, they have been replaced by foster care and domestic adoption. Yet, less than 51,000 of the approximate 415,000 children in foster care were adopted (with the involvement of a public child welfare agency) in 2014.
Whether they are labeled as orphans or foster children, they are all in need of a forever family and have a deep longing for family.
Up-and-coming filmmaker Nathan “Nato” Jacobson reminds us of this in his award-winning short film titled Wanted, available in digital format online for rental and purchase. The storyline is centered on a family who is willing to adopt a teenage boy only two days before his 18th birthday when he would age out of the foster care system. (Watch a related documentary here.)
Since a very young age, Luke has been in and out of foster homes and has no concept of family. The Johnson family wants to become his forever family, but Luke wrestles with the idea. He believes that living on his own would be so much more freeing than being a part of a family. A flashback from Luke’s troubled childhood helps him make this life-changing decision.
Wanted is powerful and unpredictable. It even left me a bit startled at the end. It gives you a glimpse into the hearts of children who, deep down, just want to belong, to be loved.
A foster child named Grace said this about the movie: “There need to be more films made like Wanted about foster kids and what we go through, then the adults who work with us and take care of us might understand us better.”
The short film also reveals that there are couples who sincerely care and truly have a heart for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40) and long to give them a forever family. Wanted is a hopeful response to a federal system for juvenile care that has become quite jaded and broken.
In 22 minutes Jacobson touches on a myriad of issues that either make or break the family today – literally.
Wanted is both chilling and convicting. Watch it and be moved.