"I never loved you and everything is your fault. Don't expect anyone to love you if your own mother can't."
Those were the last words out of his mother's mouth before David* was launched into the foster care system. It was a couple days after his 10th birthday and, to say the least, he'd had a difficult first decade.
In ten short years, David and his two sisters survived horrific physical and sexual abuse at the hands of both family members and acquaintances. When his alcoholic father died and the state of New Mexico handed David and his sisters back over to their biological mother, David had high hopes for some semblance of a normal life, but instead, he ended up in the foster care system.
For the next three years, he bounced around, going to eight different foster homes within that time. Just before moving in with the Griffins*, David recalls praying–
"If you are real, you better bring people that will love me."
And God did.
At 13, David was placed with a new foster family, the Griffins, and everything changed. The Griffins loved David like their own child. In addition to making sure his physical, emotional, and mental needs were met, they prayed for him and took him to church. But, it wasn't just the Griffins that changed David's life.
The Anderson family met David through a shared mutual friend. The Anderson children quickly became like brothers to David, and now, as an adult, David refers to the Andersons as his parents. He considers the Griffins, the couple that fostered him, to be his grandparents.
We commonly throw out the phrase, "it takes a village," and parents know what that means. It's 2 am phone calls to your mother while you're heating up a bottle and listening to the soundtrack of a screaming baby. It's your friend showing up at the hospital and sitting with you while you wait by the bedside of a sick child. It's when they volunteer to babysit while you get out of the house for a much-needed date night. Family and friends–good community–show up in hard parenting moments to share the burden with both the parents and the child.
So, what about the orphan? What about the child stuck in foster care? What about the little boy whose father won't wait by his bedside as he fights the flu? What about the baby girl whose mother can't get up in the middle of the night to warm bottles?
The village fills the gap.
In the US, there are currently more than 415,000 children in the foster care system. Globally, there are more than 150 million orphans.
At World Orphans, we whole-heartedly believe that it takes a village. The villagers come from the local community, the church, and across the globe. We partner with churches that come alongside the families caring for orphaned and vulnerable children.
We find joy in knowing these children are receiving not only physical, mental, and emotional care, but spiritual care as well. Children need someone to step up for them, enabling them to not only survive, but thrive, and to not only conquer, but heal.
The Anderson and Griffin families, through the power of Christ, changed David's life, bringing him to a place of hope, a place where he could say:
My mom had to leave, because if not I would not have been welcomed into my current family, and then I wouldn't have completely understood the power of the adoption of Christ . . .
I am 26 years old now and I am finally in a place where I can give complete forgiveness to all that have hurt me, because my Jesus forgave me and set me free. He broke my chains. And for that I will ever be grateful. He is worthy of the praise of this story.
Families like the Andersons cast a vision for filling the gaps and joining the village in our local community. Support for fostering and adoptive families is not only important, but necessary. We're also part of the global village, though. We can come alongside impoverished villages, communities, and countries to lift that burden.
What are some creative ways that you participate in your village? We have some ideas for being part of both the local and global village, but we'd love to hear yours! If you're still looking for ways to join the global village, we have plenty of opportunities for you to be involved!
*Identity changed for protection