Why Christians Are Abandoning the Orphanage -- “A new focus on the family is changing how Christians care for abandoned and neglected children.”
“What was designed as a temporary solution to address a crisis became a permanent problem,” Ruslan Maliuta, international facilitator of World Without Orphans said. The temporary solution is the orphanage, while the goal should be to get the children out of orphanages and into families.
In the last century, Christian organizations proliferated orphanages as a quick solution to swelling numbers of abandoned children in poor countries where corrupt or inefficient governments weren’t providing adequate social services. That has left Christians today as the dominant provider of orphan care in much of the world.
Even in early 20th-century America, “the church had a leading role in building orphanages to take care of children,” said Jerry Haag, president of the 112-year-old Florida Baptist Children’s Homes (FBCH). “They didn’t have parents who could take care of them through the Depression era.”According to WWO, orphans were historically defined by the loss of both parents, usually through death. UNICEF eventually broadened the definition to include children who have lost only one parent—a definition that would seem to have support in the Bible, which uses the words “orphan” and “fatherless” interchangeably.
Good News began efforts to strengthen biological families, accepting children only as a last resort. It also worked to remove any parental rights over abandoned children, enabling them to be moved into foster care or adopted. With the church’s encouragement, families from churches in and around their city have adopted more than 100 children. (Dudnik and his wife, Tamara, adopted Sergey.)