How Many Orphans Are There?

I learned an interesting statistic today.

For years I have been under the impression that there were somewhere between 145 million and 155 million orphans around the world. That number is simply staggering. It’s the kind of number that will make you lose hope. There isn’t anything you could do to significantly affect it. To put it into perspective, if every single person that watched the Superbowl this year, not every household, but every individual person adopted a child, there would still be enough orphans in the world to fill up each and every NFL stadium in the country 13 times over.

It is unfathomable.

But here’s the good news. It isn’t exactly true either.

You see, in the 90s when AIDS became a worldwide crisis, millions of parents, unfortunately, passed away. As governments and charitable organizations struggled to bring awareness to this growing concern, UNICEF redefined the word “orphan” to include a child who had lost at least one parent. In the twenty-odd years since this has led to widespread confusion among the general populous that would define an orphan as a child with no parents.

That number is much closer to 26 million.

26 million is still unacceptable. But it’s a number that is much more realistic to address than the chokehold of 147 million that stares down many would-be adoption advocates.

Think of it like this. If I offered you a million dollars to drop to the floor and do 1000 pushups without any rest, you likely wouldn’t even try. 1000 is such an obviously impossible number of pushups, why suffer the humiliation? But what if I offered the same prize if you dropped and did 175 pushups? 175 is still a lot more than almost anybody can do at one time. But you might just be crazy enough to give it a shot! Think about it. If you had a good breakfast this morning and were in better-than-average spirits you might just be able to muster the strength for 175 pushups. And let’s not forget there are a million dollars on the line! That motivation has got to count for something. Who knows? you could actually pull it off.

What we have on the line here is worth so much more.

These are real, living, human, people. Children without parents. Many of them are receiving the bare minimum of care to keep their needs met in government systems that are strapped for cash and thrust into the parenting business. I’ll say it again: 26 million is unacceptable.

But 26 million is surmountable.

We could see a day where there were no more orphans. That every child born, whether planned or unplanned. Would be known and loved by a family who would care for them. We could see it in a single generation.

Join us in our race to zero.

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