From Darren Sapp, IHH Volunteer Coordinator for Ghana Adoption Advocacy:
My son and I, having returned from Ghana, West Africa, are processing all we saw and experienced. We were privileged to meet some of the finest and nicest people in the world. The Lord blessed this trip immensely, providing one opportunity after another to meet with various groups and individuals on the subject of domestic adoption and orphan care in Ghana. I am pleased to announce that we began a ministry modeled after the Christian Alliance for Orphans and it will be led by Miss Dorcas Osei-Asantewah. Although this will be an extension and ministry of International Hope & Heritage, the name and NGO status will need to follow some regional requirements.
Some things we discovered
There is overwhelming agreement that approximately 20% of orphans in Ghana are available for adoption. The remaining have both parents, one parent, or relatives that cannot care for them but do not want them adopted, perhaps hoping they might be able to take care for them at some point. This fact alone makes it clear that this ministry’s primary goal is the restoration of every orphan to a family, whether biological or adoptive. The belief system of many Ghanaians does not look favorably at orphans or adoption and in cases of abnormalities some believe it a curse. Many that do adopt want to be able to say that the children they adopt were born to them biologically and they demand only healthy babies. Children with slight to severe special needs and/or older orphans have very little chance at adoption. The work of the Holy Spirit to pierce through this belief system is ripe for harvest.
The major goal:
We do not seek to create a ministry to replace the work of the church, rather we will help the church in Ghana with this ministry work as long as it is needed. We seek to encourage pastors to communicate through preaching and other means the numerous Biblical texts on the caring for orphans. We ask the church to find orphanages in their area and partner with them. Every partnership will look different but some things they might do are regularly visiting orphans, supporting the orphanage through gifts of food, clothing, and labor, education of children, discipleship, medical care, sports, games, and on occasion holding worship service at the orphanage. We contend that through this work, church members will engage the orphan and work toward their restoration to their biological family or an adoptive family. Many will realize that they too can adopt regardless of a child’s age or condition while others will experience the joy of reuniting an orphan with their biological parent. While we absolutely support international adoption, this ministry focuses on domestic adoption.
Some things we will do:
In the course of our eight-day trip, we met with several pastors, orphanage directors, laypersons, missionaries, and government officials. Our goals included a ton of fact finding and networking. All of this will continue as we progress toward a regional conference in the spring of 2010 in Accra and possibly one more in Kumasi. The design of the conference will enable maximum contact and networking for those in this type of ministry but also be results-oriented. Through various seminars and workshops, ministry workers can leave with a plan to either begin or broaden their ministry and perhaps form partnerships where none existed. The ministry will act as a central location for information, networking, and education. Much of this information will be located on the ministry website. In addition, the ministry will conduct adoption seminars in churches, educating believers, and helping them realize their calling to adopt. Future work will continue in networking, holding an annual conference, and production a high quality DVD with testimonies from adoptive families. This ministry will not be limited to the things I have discussed but this represents the core plan.
What can you do:
Starting today, you can forward this information to anyone interested as we build a network of interested parties whether in Ghana, neighboring African nations, and the United States. Feel free to provide our contact info.