As the death toll continues to rise in Turkey and Syria from the recent earthquake, the number of children orphaned is increasing. With over 30,000 lives lost in the sudden shaking, many are wondering what will happen to the babies and young children whose parents have perished in the crushing devastation of the earthquake and its aftermath.
One such baby, named Aya by those that rescued her, was discovered in the rubble with her umbilical cord still attached. Her mother did not survive, and the infant is believed to be the only survivor of her immediate family. Aya is stable after arriving at the hospital with minor injuries and should be released any day.
Many people around the world have stepped forward, asking how they can adopt Aya or other children like her. There are many other children who have lost parents, but the aftermath of a catastrophic tragedy is not the time or place to pursue adoption, even though it may seem reasonable to consider it.
At Lifetime, we hear from kind-hearted families after almost every tragedy like this, asking how they can help. There was a huge outpouring of interest after US troops pulled out of Afghanistan in 2021 as well as many years ago after the devasting earthquake in Haiti. Both times we saw images in the news of children in desperate situations, and many Christian families stepped forward, saying, “How can I help?”
While it is natural to think that providing a home is exactly what these children need, that isn’t really the case. UNICEF emergency communication specialist Joe English recently explained to CNN that adoption should never be the first consideration after a tragedy like we are seeing. Instead, he shared that the first goal is always to find a suitable parent or close family member to reunite with the child.
It is important to understand that adoption, especially international adoption is a process. It is not as simple as buying a plane ticket to Turkey and coming home with a child. International adoption normally takes many months or even years! Preparing your home study and dossier requires an adoption agency specializing in the country of your choice, and that is just the beginning.
Right now, the earthquake has crippled both Turkey’s and Syria’s social service programs. As a result, there is far more need than there is help on the ground. And things like processing international adoptions are not basic infrastructure, so they are not a priority.
Additionally, it is good to understand that international adoption is rare in Turkey. While it is possible, the Turkey Intercountry Adoption Information on the US Department of State shows that no adoptions have been processed to the United States for at least the last six years. Adopting from Syria is even rarer and more problematic. Both countries have travel warnings; in fact, Syria is listed as a “Level 4: Do not travel” warning.
How You Can Help
For families who want to help or feel led to step forward and consider adopting orphans in Turkey or Syria, there are many ways to help. Providing a loving home and family may not be an option, but there are other things you can do to support those touched by tragedy in both Turkey and Syria right now or help with adoption here at home.
To financially help directly with relief efforts in Turkey and Syria:
- The American Red Cross is currently actively helping in both countries. Donating funds will directly benefit these support efforts on the ground in Turkey and Syria.
- The UN Refugee Relief Agency is collecting funds to provide a winter survival kit to refugee families.
- Doctors Without Borders is on the ground, responding to medical needs with life-saving care and medical supplies.
- While donated blood is not currently a need overseas, this is something that all of us can always do to provide a life-saving necessity that can’t be purchased or produced.
To help ensure children in need are provided a home through adoption:
- If you truly wish to open your home and heart to a waiting child in need, consider looking at the waiting children through AdoptUSKids. There are photos, information, and descriptions of children waiting to be adopted from the foster care system.
- Many families rely on adoption grants to adopt. Donating to help fund adoption grants is a way to truly be a part of families who are pursuing the adoption of a child.
- If you are considering adopting a young child in the US, Lifetime’s application to adopt is always free. It is a great way to learn more about modern adoption.
Thank you for wanting to learn more about you can help children in need, both here and around the world. The tragedies and hardships we see today remind us all to ensure that providing a safe future for children should always be our top priority.
As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.