The bloody conflicts in Africa and the Middle East have birthed many orphans with few options. These children must do what they can to survive in inhumane conditions in refugee camps and on the streets, taking each day a danger at a time.
The lucky ones are adopted by people looking to expand their families; however, President Donald Trump's travel ban has left those approved for new lives in the United States stranded.
The Associated Press reports that the travel ban is keeping more than 100 children from safety in the U.S. These children already have new families waiting for them, having passed through a long and thorough system of checks and balances which includes, but is not limited to, referrals from the United Nations and a U.S. security screening so the children can be put up for adoption by foster care agencies based in the country.
The Washington Post notes that orphans who turn 18 while their paperwork is still in process face the devastating consequence of no longer being eligible for adoption at all.
The program has been running in the U.S. for approximately three decades and, while small, has delivered over 6,000 orphans of conflict into loving new homes with the help of adoption agencies.
Ashley Feasley, policy director of the nonprofit U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that works with orphaned refugees, informed The Washington Post that over 200 children, most between the ages of 15 and 17 years old, were admitted to the U.S. in 2016. As violence abroad escalates, the number of children in need of safe homes only increases.
"These are kids on their own, and struggling to survive," Elizabeth Foydel, policy counsel with the International Refugee Assistance Project, told The Associated Press.
After much judicial turbulence, Trump's travel ban became actualized, and while the misguided order was marketed as an attempt to keep out terrorists, it keeps out thousands more victims of terror. Language in the legislation bars those without what the administration defines as "close" family in the U.S. from entry, meaning that many of the children who stand to benefit from adoption programs won't even be able to cross the border.
Tianna Rooney, a family therapist living in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, who was interviewed by The Associated Press, adopted a 16-year-old boy from Eritrea who had managed to escape his country before he could be forced to become a child soldier at 13. Amidst the standstill caused by the Trump administration, he lives in limbo in the streets, and Rooney has no way of getting in touch with him since the internet and telephones are limited commodities for a child on their own. She can only hope that "he knows a family wants him" and that new legislation will be written so he can come home.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Flickr user UNICEF Ethiopia