Wednesday, July 26, 2017

From One Orphanage To The Next

I recently heard a statement from a friend who is in the child caring world that shocked and saddened me.  This friend stated that when big families adopt, it's like the children going "from one orphanage to another".  The following blog post is decidedly bias. Just know that.


That was her exact statement, verbatim. I sat  in confusion for a few seconds but thought to "fix my face" before she looked back at me.  I considered my own family of six children - four adopted and two biological - and wondered if she meant me.  Or someone else. Is six "orphanage numbers" or was that comment only directed at the mega families of 9, 10, 11 or 17 children?  

I said nothing. Because I was offended and didn't want to say something I might regret. 

And then I decided to try and be very diplomatic and evaluate her words carefully, considering the people I know "in real life" who have adopted children and large families, and since I direct and live inside of an orphanage, it was easy for me to compare the two scenarios.  

I see, in some aspects, how she is right. In both my orphanage and the large families I  know well,  there are some glaring similarities:  lots of people, piles of laundry, big grocery bills, the need to take turns in the bathroom, fights over TV shows, the last cookie being a big deal ,  running out of toilet paper at lightening speed , people having to wait a little while to be heard, a fair amount of chores for each child to simply keep the place running . . . and those are different and maybe harder paths than small families walk.  

But then I weighed some other similarities: always someone to play with, likely at least one person to take your side, a dying to self that creates good character when the "me, first" attitude has to go, older siblings to teach younger siblings everything from swimming to shoe tying, younger siblings to teach older siblings to be loving caregivers, a place to try out your gifts and talents in front of a larger audience, and ultimately, more people to love and be loved by. 

And the implication in the statement was that placing my precious Mercy House children into a large family was somehow a disservice to them.    That maybe just keeping them in the first orphanage was sufficient if no small families were considering them  since a large family is pretty much an orphanage.

That,  my friends, is a lie! 

 If I know one thing, I KNOW orphanage life. I believe I run a pretty wonderful orphanage. I truly love the children in our center. I kiss them goodnight and make sure all their needs are met. They are happy, growing, thriving people who are getting to know Jesus and are safe from harm. They LOVE their lives here.  They count. Their opinions matter.  I sit up with sick ones and hold crying ones. 

But I would never even try to submit that my orphanage is better than or even equal to a large family. 

You see, parents in large families, there are some things YOU can give my children that I can not.

A new family tree.  A last name that matches yours. A group of siblings who will be there for him long after you and I are gone. Not leaving for their own adoptive homes.  A place to bring his own children someday that is his REAL home and a family that is his REAL family. Grandparents, cousins, crazy uncles!!! 

We at Mercy House are LIKE a family.                             You, my friends ARE a family.

Don't let anyone discourage you, Mothers of Many, from following your dream of adopting a child. Or a sibling group.  

And you, my fellow orphanage director friends, please consider those large families and don't dismiss them simply based on numbers. Really SEE them.  Each individual member.  I realize some of the children in care NEED to be in a smaller family for a number of reasons. But I truly believe that almost any child can succeed and thrive in a large family. Sometimes better. 

So, if you ever hear a statement  like my colleague made above, whether you are in a large family yourself, a single person or married with one dog and two fish, please defend big families. 
In a world that celebrates all kind of families, let's not forget the large ones. 

You have so much to offer! 


  1. Appreciate your truth....4 of our 13 kids (11 adopted)came from an orphanage and were older and they talk of the stigma of not belonging...not be a part of a family and how awesome it feels to have a place to know you belong no matter the mistakes you make, someone to always cheer you on in awesome is that?

  2. Thank you Nikki. Dear friends of ours are parents of 13. The love and stability their kids share ... and now their grandkids & great-grands ... is beautiful to see. (Rachel in Japan)