Since I shared the reality of orphans with special needs last year, I thought it profoundly important to share the fate of orphans who age out of orphanages.
We learned many things from a ministry we met with while in Hazel’s country, and this weekend we went to an event where a missionary in Ukr*aine opened our eyes again to the reality of older orphans.
In Eastern Europe when a teen in a regular orphanage (not a mental institution) reaches the age of 16, they are too old to be adopted by US citizens. Sometime between 9th & 11th grade they are too old to live in an orphanage and sent on their way. Prior to this point most receive some sort of education/schooling when they reside in the orphanage, which depends entirely on the orphanage. However, when they age out of the system they are orphaned once again and sent out into a world which they’ve never known, seen, or experienced.
It’s not shocking that most of these teens end up on the streets, into drugs, alcohol, or prostitution, and young girls may find themselves pregnant. And therein lies the never-ending and seemingly hopeless cycle of orphans begetting orphans.
But these young orphans aren’t to blame. Many are sent on their way with a sack of clothes, minimal money, little to no job training, and no family. How in the world DO they survive? It’s survival of the fittest in which they find any means of survival.
In Ukr*ine, one way to survive is among the ‘street children’; they live in sewers underground, sleep on top of one another like a pack of dogs, and waste the days away scouring garbage cans, stealing, or sniffing glue.
This is the reality of orphans who aren’t adopted. A reality that is hard to bear and one that has me praying for children like these to find a home. Not all of them will get adopted though (many of them actually), that is the reality. However, there are people in country who love these children and are teaching them, encouraging them, and equipping them before they age out of the orphanage. And there are people who are sharing their stories and pictures in hopes that they one day will be adopted. I’ll be sharing more about them later this week!
For now, watch this is a heartbreaking video about the lives of street children in Ukr*aine: