One thing you probably don't know about Madagascar is that many of these orphanages (and Iris, in particular, only works with these type) take care and love children that are legally 'unadoptable.' Culturally as well, adoption is not looked upon favorably.
Unadoptable. Let that word roll off your tongue. It has to be one of the saddest words I've ever heard. And it would be, except that in the case of Iris:
It does not mean unfed
It does not mean unclothed
It does not mean uneducated
and it does not mean UNLOVED.
You see in Madagascar, a child cannot be adopted if they have any living (even extended) relative. In most of these cases, these children have a living extended relative somewhere and they either are too poor, too overwhelmed (or too steeped in substance/drug abuse) to raise and take care of a child. In Madagascar, mothers' dying during childbirth is also a huge issue; the maternal mortality rate here is 240 deaths per 100,000 births (by contrast the US has 21)
What this means is that if not for selfless staff (with whom we have had the privilege to get know and call friends) at Iris, none of these children would have a home--
there is no social safety net in Madagascar
there are the streets, starvation, disease and death
(you can read a heartbreaking post below about a baby found in a garbage dump by the orphange)
Iris orphanage currently has about 70 orphans that can be sponsored on their website. The orphanage itself currently cares for about twice that many children. And because of the hearts of the staff (both international and local) every one of these kids is LOVED.
After visiting the orphanage and seeing the absolutely amazing job they do, we decided we would sponsor two two twins girls,Niry (Nee-ree) and Noro (Noo-roo), that are almost the same age as Betty.
Also, if you are interested in sponsoring siblings, here's a list of those at the orphanage:
And all the love from Emily's giant heart overflowed into mine and after we were married, God gave me a heart for adoption too. Which led us to our oldest daughter Macee.
As Christmas draws near and we celebrate God's ultimate gift, I thought it worthwhile to consider what Jesus' younger brother James wrote when considering all of the 'religion' surrounding him--he would probably say the same thing were he here today:
"True religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
The word "religion" is translated from the greek word threskeia which means an outward observance of worship. This verse really crushed me once I understood it-- religion or worship that God truly recognizes and craves is when we are humble and compassionate in showing tangible love to those in need (i.e, orphans and widows in this case).
I know I fail in this every day but thankfully God's not asking for perfection from us--instead he just wants to give us everything...which started in a manager two thousand years ago.
La religion authentique et pure aux yeux de Dieu, le Père, consiste à aider les orphelins et les veuves dans leurs détresses et à ne pas se laisser corrompre par ce monde
At 0:39 Niry and Noro make their appearance.