The governments of Sri Lanka and Indonesia have issued special regulations in order to prevent wrongful adoption and exploitation of children orphaned as a result of the tsunami (see "What's happening to the tsunami orphans?" The Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 7).
The problems that threaten children who've lost their parents - including sexual abuse, slave labor, and induction as child soldiers - are not new. The book of Lamentations in the Bible reports: "We are orphans and fatherless.... They ravished the women in Zion, and the maids in the cities of Judah." Even while lamenting their plight, the author of this book also states, "Thou, O Lord, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation" (Lam. 5:3, 11, 19).
Though written thousands of years ago, this passage offers a direction for our prayers regarding the orphans and all the victims of the tsunami tragedy: recognizing that God's government is "to all generations" - that His government is good and permanent. The hideousness of the sex trade, especially when exploiting children, does not make it more formidable but less so. Good is the natural expression of humankind, as witness the great outpouring of aid to those southern Asian victims.
And even the desire of good people over the world to adopt these orphans and make a home for them indicates the love that is pouring forth to those in need.
Every time someone prays the Lord's Prayer in behalf of these orphans, they are in a way being adopted. We pray, "Our Father which art in heaven," and that "our" includes those being prayed for specifically. It is acknowledging that they are the children of God and have not lost their divine Parent.
Such prayers confirm their spiritual innocence as it affirms their divine heritage and are a major element in forestalling abuse. Even if the abuse is not forestalled, however, this acknowledging of spiritual parentage helps enable the abused actually to resolve the issues of such abuse and feel the restoration of their spiritual innocence.
An experience of a friend of mine helps explain the reality and permanence of good as well as the impermanence of evil effects. Her father had sexually abused her many times. She became acquainted with a book written by the founder of this newspaper, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. She accepted its many statements regarding spiritual existence as the reality of her own being, and she was so freed from the effects of this abuse that had gone on for years that she was able to forgive her father and actually took him into her home when he needed care.
While prevention is always better than cure, prayers for these orphans will bless them forever, and will make headway in removing a longtime practice of misusing and abusing children.
Having these orphans brought to the world's prayers can bring good out of this tragedy. This careful look at the need to better protect orphaned children acts, in a way, as rightful adoption. Responding to our prayers that they are the children of God, these children receive, in biblical terms, "the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father" (Rom. 8:15).
The righteous desire to adopt children who need homes comes from God. Because each of us - adopters and adoptees alike - is really of God, Love, we are eternally loved and loving. Recognizing this fact to be true of children who were orphaned as a result of the tsunami, we can trust that they will be well cared for. Whether they are embraced in homes of their extended families or eventually adopted by couples in countries far away, they will be protected from abuse. They and children in war-torn countries, as well as children everywhere, benefit from prayers made on their behalf. These prayers to God as Father-Mother confirm a spiritual relationship from which no one can be orphaned.
For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.