CHIFF: Children growing up in a family

Bethany Christian Services is committed to preserving families. (Photo by Bethany Christian Services)

Bethany Christian Services is
committed to preserving families.
(Photo by Bethany Christian Services)

USA (MNN) — Do we have the right to complain about something if we’ve never tried to change it? Do we have an obligation to use our voice to stick up for those who cannot speak?

In the last decade, international adoptions in the United States have plummeted. Yet somehow orphanages and institutions are overflowing with children who are not receiving proper care. Worse still, thousands of children are living on the streets. For an organization like Bethany Christian Services, this is disconcerting.

The decrease in inter-country adoptions is partly due to cultural and economic changes. Parents are choosing to keep their children in situations that ten years ago would have forced them to choose adoption.

Unfortunately, inter-country adoptions have also decreased for negative reasons. Russia recently closed the doors to the USA, saying the adoption process infringed on human rights. Cambodia, Guatemala, and Vietnam have also stopped adoption relations with the U.S. claiming instances of fraud.

The discussion has come to legislation through the bill, Children in Families First (CHIFF), which was proposed to both the House and Senate late last year. Over the months, the bill has accumulated quite a bit of backlash. The concerns range from questions of necessity to risks of human trafficking.

Bethany’s Bill Blacquiere, a supporter of the bill, explains the premise of CHIFF: “The United States Government, through its foreign aid, spends over $2 billion a year helping countries improve living for their children.” Very little of this money, he says, goes to keep children in families.

If passed, CHIFF would refocus some of the money to improve the process of international adoption so that more orphans living on the streets and in institutions can be placed in a loving family.

“We believe children need to be in families,” says Blacquire. “Scientific research would show they need to be in a family to be the most productive and well-developed citizen they can be.”

The bill would not only increase adoptions, it would restructure how international adoptions are done. Many people opposing the bill believe that CHIFF does not address the risk of human trafficking. Some even think it increases the risk. However, CHIFF is a refocusing attempt that will construct a more efficient, safer, and better supervised process of adoption.

Blacquiere says the bill will actually improve adoption regulation and legality. “If they reworked the departments of the state department, it should even strengthen the inter-country adoption process and make our State Department more effective in how they process adoptions and investigate how adoptions are done.”

Supporters of the bill are not saying international adoption is always the best option. Last August, Blacquiere said in an interview with Mission Network News, “While we continue to make strides in our efforts to improve social services in other countries so that children can remain with their biological families, we must also continue our progress in making adoption easier and more affordable for those couples who have room in their hearts and homes.”

The push toward domestic adoptions in other countries is still not big enough to accommodate the thousands of orphans and vulnerable children. Blacqueire says, “Their orphanages or institutions are overcrowded; children are on the streets and are not getting very good care.”

The goal then is not merely to simplify and increase international adoptions, but to improve them. “When you strengthen a department and redefine its purpose, it should protect children and families,” Blacquiere says.

CHIFF supports the ideals of the family structure God put into place. Blacquiere also sees ways that CHIFF will increase Gospel-sharing opportunities. “Through inter-country adoption, many children are placed in Christian families and therefore are exposed to the Gospel and hear about the love of God and the love of Jesus.”

If you’re not sure what to think about CHIFF, Blacquiere asks you to consider three things: “It really focuses on keeping and putting children in families,” he says. “Secondly, it’s not going to cost taxpayers any more money, but it’s going to redirect some of the money that’s being spent now to…focus on keeping children in families.” And third, “it’s going to strengthen the inter-country adoption process, prevent child trafficking, and help more children get into their adoptive family home much faster than currently is being done.”

Blacquiere reminds us that many strong Christian representatives and senators are supporting this legislation. “I think that tells people the merit, or how good this bill is.”

If you agree with what CHIFF is striving for, then do something about it. Click here for details about the bill. Contact your congress members and sign the petition here. Follow this link for an informative podcast with Bethany.

Pray for the millions of orphans that are growing up in institutions or without family. Pray for the strength and integrity of the senators and representatives dealing with this bill.