Ethiopia (MNN) — HIV/AIDS is causing a steady increase in the number of Ethiopian children becoming orphans. In the past, it was mostly famine, conflict and poverty that that were causes.
As a result, Ethiopia is struggling with the cost of caring for an estimated five million orphaned children. Some 1,400 children made new homes abroad last year, more than double from the previous year. The government encourages adoption but is less enthusiastic about adoptions abroad.
However, the $115 million needed each month to care for them is out of the question, especially when you see the national annual health budget is only $140 million. What it means is that the government is scrutinizing even more carefully the international adoption agencies. For some children, overseas adoption is the only option for survival.
Bethany Christian Services' John VanValkenberg says that's why the launch of their adoption program is noteworthy. "It's significant for us, as an organization, because it's our first movement into Africa, where we know there are millions of orphans on the continent that have been orphaned by HIV and AIDS."
It's taken years to build up the cooperation and trust with other groups in Ethiopia. Bethany is also providing humanitarian aid as part of their outreach. "Bethany is able to establish a relationship and a partnership with organizations that do have a Christian focus and the work that we do, as Bethany, really shows the compassion of Jesus Christ."
Please pray for the team running the program. As a pioneer program, there are greater unknowns than with other Bethany adoption programs. Unexpected changes in timeframes and procedures are possible when work begins in a new country.