A New Chapter, A Family Focus
Imagine Missions is writing a new chapter of our story - we are reunifying the children in our care with their biological families.
You may have seen communication about this online, in the mail or from conversations with our leadership. We are so fortunate to have supporters like you that bless us through donations, prayers, and love. We want to make sure that you have all the information you need as we go through this transition. Our Fall 2019 newsletter and subsequent blog posts were and will be dedicated to bringing everyone up to speed on changed elements of Imagine Missions and how you can continue to partner with us to change lives and create hope.
At our annual board meeting in May 2019, God guided us to reflect upon the quality of the lives of the very children we started this organization to support. We came to a common conviction: we must pivot the way we care for our children to more accurately reflect what children need. We have decided to do this by reunifying the children in our care with their biological families.
We presumed the best and safest thing is to keep children in the orphanage. However, we can see that in Haiti and worldwide there is a shift in orphan care, as well as abundant research explaining why.
Research demonstrates many ways institutions harm children in their development and their future chances of success. Studies have shown placement in an orphanage results in lower cognitive functions including learning capacity. Children more commonly demonstrate unhealthy attachment patterns, depression, and anxiety. Because they are contained within orphanage walls, youth growing up in orphanages are shown to have fewer social and survival skills, and are more prone to abuse.
There is a better way to set children up for success and to ultimately know the love of Jesus - to reunite them with family.
We are just beginning the process of reunification of our children with their families. This pivot in care will more accurately reflect children's needs - individual adult attention and parenting, trusted parental figures, and a family model that is far superior to group living. Currently, we are being mentored and finding resources on the ground in Haiti who specialize in reunification and strengthening families.
This isn’t happening overnight; reunification will require preparing both the child and their family members. There will be strong social work follow-up to ensure the root cause of surrendering children to our orphanage is addressed. We want to ensure success in every way we can. We believe God is leading us to empower whole families in both this process of reunification and in our future.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68)
All but three of our children have a living parent. This is the case in most orphanages; the Government of Haiti estimates that 80 percent of children in orphanages have at least one living parent who could care for them at home, if properly supported. The primary reason children are brought to institutions is that their parents feel they can’t support them and lack access to basic services- particularly school.
While multifactorial, the placement of children into orphanages by parents is often out of love. Upon giving two of her children up to Imagine Missions Orphanage, one mother said, ‘I cannot be sad right now if I know my children will eat and go to school.’ But what if we could determine the root cause of her situation, aid her in that area, and allow her children to live in her loving care, understanding that they belong to a family? This family reunification and strengthening model we intend to follow as an organization can help not just one but several generations.
We ask that you be patient with us as we go about this change, especially within the constraints of Haiti's ongoing political instability. There are many changes ahead and we want you to be apart of that process; most of all we ask that you pray with us for our children and young adults as well as for their families. We believe God will write a beautiful story for each and every child and we are grateful for His guidance in this process.
In upcoming posts and our website, you may find information on family-based care, Imagine Missions School, changes to our support structure, and how you can be a part of holiday celebrations this year. You can also find more stories and happenings about Imagine Missions on our Facebook and Instagram, and reach out via 'contact us' on our website.