China (MNN) — Remember China’s big orphan scandal of 2011?
Chinese media uncovered a scam that had been running since at least 2005: officials in the southern Hunan province were using China’s one-child policy to “confiscate” infants and penalize impoverished families. The government collected their fees and passed the children along to adoption agencies.
The agencies called the babies “orphans” and adopted them out to unknowing couples for a hefty profit. Parents who live outside China are required by law to pay adoption agencies $5,000 USD.
The story soon took off in U.S. media; many alleged “orphans” in China were adopted by U.S. parents. In 2005 alone, 14,500 Chinese infants found new homes in America.
The orphan scandal didn’t stop there. As recently as January, kids in China were being trafficked for international adoption, Beijing Today reports.
An adoption alternative
Many international adoptions are done “by the book,” but orphan scandals like this one have sown more than a few seeds of doubt. According to Baptist Press, international adoptions hit a 30-year low last year for U.S. citizens. Adoptions from China were down 96%.
While it operates five orphanages–which often go hand-in-hand with adoption, one orphan ministry isn’t focused on getting Chinese children into Western families. Instead, it’s partnering with local Christians to provide a family-like setting and support system.
“The Chinese Agape Foundation (CAF) is not an adoption agency,” clarifies Steve Biondo of Family Christian Stores.
“It is rescuing, serving children in China who will remain in China–and hopefully give back to China–as men and women who have a faith in Jesus Christ.”
Caring for China’s children
While hundreds of kids are stolen from their parents each year as part of China’s ongoing orphan scandal, an equally large amount are truly in-need. According to the UNDP Representation Office in Brussels, around 1.5 million children call the streets of China home.
The CAF provides a home for hundreds of China’s vulnerable kids: true orphans (children who lost both of their parents), children who ran away from home to escape abuse or poverty, or kids who were simply abandoned.
At their five Care Centers, CAF partners with local Christians to provide shelter, food, clothing, medical care, and education for reach child. Most importantly, children are introduced to Christ.
“Oftentimes in China, the Gospel is not welcomed,” Biondo observes. But, as they learn about Jesus through CAF, these former street kids become indigenous missionaries.
Eventually, the marketplace becomes their mission field. Last year, CAF saw ten of its own launch into the real world.
“These were all Chinese Agape Foundation kids, and here’s the list: one lawyer, one hospital administrator, one chemical engineer, one music teacher, one social worker, two marketing managers, one school teacher, one masseuse, and one mechanical design engineer,” shares Biondo.
How you can help
In the past two years, Family Christian and its customers have helped Agape build their fifth Care Center and open a hospital for orphans. Now, they’re helping Agape rescue even more kids through a new location.
“We’re pretty close to seeing that Care Center…become operational. We believe that we’re within the next 90 days,” shares Biondo.
Family Christian already has all the financial support for this new Care Center in hand, he adds. They’re simply waiting for government clearance to begin building.