*This post is not meant to be harmful to anyone who has seen and experienced the beauty that can be found through international adoptions. I love watching the Lord bring restoration to our fallen world. There are some absolutely amazing stories that that Lord redeems through adoptions.
*I want it to be known that some of the things I wish to share are not true of 100% of adoption stories, but are widespread enough, specifically in Uganda, that they can no longer be ignored by those with generous, caring hearts striving to help.
*My main goal is to share the knowledge I have gained which has created a major shift in how I choose to respond to the “orphan crisis” in Uganda. These days, I feel better equipped to help Ugandan children more effectively. I want to share with others the same knowledge.
Abandoned to Live...
As heartbreaking as it is, I believe the baby in the video was abandoned to live. Based on my experiences, research, and many first-hand testimonies, children in Uganda are most often abandoned in order that they may live, not die. Although the creator of the video spoke very adamantly that the baby he was holding was left to die, I believe he is holding a baby that was abandoned to live.
In America, we have the Safe Haven or “Baby Moses” law that allows unharmed children to be left at designated areas in order to be provided better opportunities than what that parent believes they can provide. In Uganda we have no such law. When mothers in our region feel they cannot adequately provide for their child, they will place the child in a location where there is much foot traffic and the child will be easily found. These babies are abandoned to live, just like the babies left under the Safe Haven laws of America.
I spoke with a friend who works every day with vulnerable mothers and babies in our neighboring country of Rwanda. She shared with me,
"I can almost guarantee that baby under the tree, the mom was close by and knows where [the baby] is...
I can tell you a hundred similar stories, of babies abandoned to live. Often the moms are watching and hiding in the background."
(Tina Ngizwenayo , Hope For Tomorrow)
But how could a mother abandon her own child? I just don't understand...
Some young girls are abandoned by their families because they have become pregnant. Here are a few short testimonies of Ugandan, teenage mothers who found themselves in desperate need of help:
“Both of my parents died when I was really young, All I remember was growing up with my elder sister in the village who did not afford to pay my school dues so I didn’t study much, I looked for small jobs like being a house maid but earned less than 20 dollars a month. With time, I got into a relationship, I got pregnant but this man threw me out and did not want anything to do with me and the pregnancy. The lady I worked for could not help me anymore, I needed help with my pregnancy, delivery and the upcoming baby”
“My father died when I was at a very young age and so grew up with my grandparents who paid school fees for me until secondary level 3. Then he could not afford to pay school fees anymore. I dropped out of school. I and my brothers started to do small jobs to be able to take care of ourselves, was not easy. I got into a relationship with the man who started to provide to my material needs but and after sometime, I got pregnant and he abandoned me. My grandmother abandoned me too, she did not want anything to do with me, I was only 16 year of age, I felt hopeless.” These stories were provided by Women of Purpose International, The Fortress.
Some mothers lack nutrition to be able to breastfeed and poverty prevents them from purchasing very expensive formula.
Some mothers do not have permission and/or access to education or the resources for family planning methods. They can easily become overwhelmed at the expenses of multiple children.
The mother may have AIDS and no access to treatment. Believing her child is better off with another family, she may play her child in the custody and care of a local orphanage. I recently heard of a set of parents who went to the lengths of faking their own deaths, so their child, severely ill, would be placed in an orphanage and hopefully receive medical care. Can you imagine?
Some mothers lack the money to pay for school fees, but believe if they abandon their child to be placed in an orphanage, although not an orphan, then their children will be given access to education.
Some grandmothers realize their daughter is incapable of caring for the baby, therefore the grandmother makes the hard decision to give up the child.
“Poverty cannot be the sole reason a child is removed from their parents.
I spoke with an expert on foster care and adoptions in Arkansas. She has been a foster mother, adoptive mother, and is very involved in faith-based foster care training. She shared the above quote, “Poverty cannot be the sole reason a child is removed from their parents.” She also mentioned that it is mandated by the state that parents receive resources, support, and opportunities improve their well being. It is mandated in Arkansas that parents in poverty receive help in order to reunite their families. The DCFS of Arkansas is committed to helping families overcome with multiple government and community supports.
Unfortunately, we do not have such a system in Uganda. Progress is being made, however. Many non-profit, non-governmental organizations are stepping up to advocate for poverty-stricken parents. And the government is grateful for the efforts!
If these desperate Ugandan families were the given the ability, resources, and opportunities that are provided for parents in America, my personal opinion is that a great majority of these parents would be reunited with their children.
But because not enough is being done about poverty, and because many are taking action steps to remove children from parents, without great attempts to reunite and support the families, many children are being abandoned…
They don't believe their family unit will receive the support needed, but if they make the drastic sacrifice to abandon their child, then it will receive the care it needs. This breaks my heart to the point of bringing tears to my eyes as I type these sentences on to the blog.
Please, do not believe that parents in Africa do not love their children.
Please do not believe that Ugandans are heartless. I have met some of the most sincere, loving parents in Uganda. Please do not believe all African mothers are heartless or unloving.
I was brought to tears for mothers and families while watching this man's video. It hurt my heart and cut deeply when I saw it spreading to over 6,000 viewers! This lie, that a baby was just left abandoned to die, was being believed by people in Arkansas and around America! They were believing, based on a short-term visitor’s experience, that the baby was left to die.
Here were their conclusions and comments in response to this man's video:
"Look at this beautiful, one month old baby girl that was abandoned, literally left under a tree to die." “How can someone leave a child to die?”
“Awwww poor baby. I would love to hold her and show her what love is..“
Because making the hardest sacrifice of your life for the betterment of your child isn’t love?
“From a woman who could not have children, Why would a mother do this?! Precious souls..." “Leaving a baby under a tree to die I can’t even imagine “
“If you have a heart for adoption consider this sweet baby or one of the others they have that need loving, Christian families!!!”
So she doesn’t have a loving family already?
“We have almost 20+ babies birth to 7 years that need forever families (adopted by American families) in Uganda, Malawi and Ghana.”
So your focus is American families. Only American families are can adopt these children? Does that mean that Ugandan families are incapable? Have you made that judgement?
And his title: “Abandoned baby in Uganda. Do people care about this orphan crisis??”
To the creator of the video, I reply, “YES! People care. Ugandans care! And most of all, the mother who loved her child so deeply, and felt her only option was to leave her precious baby for someone else to give her a better life, really cared. She cared so much that she abandoned her baby!“
There are organizations that are training up Ugandans in their churches and communities to help with this crisis. They are diligently working to relocate and support this vulnerable families!
There are groups advocating for children's rights! We ARE doing something about this crisis.
Please stop facilitating the belief that this baby was left to die. Please stop leading others to horrific conclusions about Ugandans and the rest of the giant continent of Africa- as you mentioned this being a problem all over Africa.
Yes, there are issues. Yes, there are poor choices. Yes, more needs to be done.
I learned that approximately 70% of children in the foster care system in Arkansas have drug-related issues in their families. There are bad choices that affect children every day, everywhere.
Satan is attacking the family unit WORLD WIDE!
May we strive to see how we can best help families in impossible situations.
If you see something that disturbs you about children and families in other countries, please do your research. Please inquire of people who are living in those countries and who are involved in the processes. I have had so many individuals who are living and working in Uganda and Rwanda share the exact same concerns. Please ask us about the things you see and hear. Not visitors.
And, please, let us learn the whole stories before sharing half truths.