MORE THAN A FAMILY
K-Children’s Home was founded in the late 1990’s in South India. Our staff of three started by taking in two children whose mother had died and father was sick with AIDS. K-Home is committed to two things: Reunification of family when possible and the international model of foster care and adoption when not possible. Over the years, 16 children have been re-unified with their birth families. The rest of the children have been adopted by us in almost every sense. We belong to each other.
Read more below about our journey.
No More Children’s Homes
Creative Solutions to Families in Need
By the Founder of K-Ministries
In 1998, I packed a backpack with all of my earthly belongings and got on an airplane to South Asia with only $80.00 in my pocket. My desire was to explore, pray, learn, and seek opportunities to help at-risk children here.
21 years ago, I, along with two South Asian sisters, pioneered a home for children. It wasn’t necessarily my life-long dream, in some ways, I feel like I fell into it. I originally wanted to work with street children. However, as I met so many extremely-at-risk children, it seemed like God was calling for more of a commitment on my part. We took in 6 children that first season, and over the years we have taken in many more. We have sought to be radically different than the normal status quo children’s homes, and by God’s grace-we have been. Our children are known, valued, encouraged, corrected, wanted and loved deeply.
Like the south-Asian kinship system, our kids remain with us until settled in their careers, marriages, or ministry. Presently, we have 25 living at home. 20 have gone out; either in ministry or full time careers, marriages, and more. Our children attend great schools and colleges, have lots of friends, are happy and self-confident, are often leaders among their classmates and are overall THRIVING. They have bonded well and are loved deeply, cherished and valued and wanted. Our team has been together since 1999 with very little turnover. The kids are happy and mostly well-adjusted. We are far from perfect, we have our own issues and brokenness, but we are a family, a large, loud, crazy loving family. We belong to one another and we know it! I know it’s not nice to boast and brag, but K-Homes is one of the best children’s homes on planet earth! The older kids who’ve left home come back all the time to see their family—us! We keep in touch with them regularly, and they know that they have a HOME for life! We have become a true family! As our oldest have started having children we are enjoying a new generation in the gift of grandkids!!
BUT - even so, even with all of these things being true, I still have one piece of advice for my friends, acquaintances, and visitors who feel ‘called’ to start children’s homes. “PLEASE DON’T!”
We went to great lengths to be careful not to take in children who had anywhere else to go. If they had a family, they should be with that family. If they have a place to go for the holidays (most children’s homes send their kids ‘home’ for the summer holidays), then by all means…they don’t need a children’s home. Even so, as careful as we have been to NOT take in children that had families, I still say, “PLEASE DON’T!” (And I realize I sound like a hypocrite even as I type.)
Studies have shown that children’s homes, orphanages, and other such places are so unhealthy to a child’s development and growth. Institutionalization of children is one of our world’s leading forms of child abuse. While, I would like to say that K-homes is different, (and it most certainly is) I still have to be honest and say that there are elements of institutionalization present here. I know we are doing a great job in some areas; I know we have literally saved lives, and I know we are primarily a FAMILY, but still…we are a child-care institution at the end of the day. (Ugh, it pains me to say it!). We were not able to reach some of our kid’s hearts, as much as we tried. There are elements of institutionalization that prevented us from really giving each and every child what they needed. God intended families to stay together. He intended them to be raised by a Godly father and mother. There are some deep-rooted needs in the hearts of our children that we were unable to meet. While our love and care and concern for them is deep, I recognize that we are limited by our very existence. It breaks my heart to admit this.
Children need to be with their families whenever possible. In the rare case that it’s not possible, then they need to be IN a family. I’ve heard it asked, “Do you know what the leading cause of orphans is? War? Disease? Famines? Poverty? AIDS? No, it’s orphanages.” I would add to that…. The leading cause of orphans is too many orphanages and too few creative solutions to families in need. Raising support for orphanages is relatively easy. Who wouldn’t get behind that? Most orphanages world-wide take in children are not actual ORPHANS. Many of the children have one parent, or an aunt/uncle or grandparents. They aren’t true orphans. They have family! Did you know that only 5% of children in orphanages/children’s homes are true orphans? 95% have some kind of family! (By the way, if anyone ever called our home/family an orphanage, they might get slapped by me, one of our houseparents, or the kids themselves! They have been adopted by us! They aren't orphans anymore. We are blessed to be able to call them ours!)
Many people who start such ministries are Christians who feel called by God to do so. This is where it gets tricky. “How can you tell me not to start a children’s home when God has spoken to me?” Well, I get it. I knew in my heart that God had called me here. I understand. But sometimes, we humans, we hear what we want to hear. God wants you to wrestle through things, to pray through, to sift through all of the stirrings in your heart. Facets of your calling might be clear, while some of your perceived calling might have a little of your own flesh, culture, and history mixed in.
We haven’t taken any new children into K-homes in many years. We adore our kids; they are our family. But we know that God is calling us to reach out to more families in need. We are serious about guarding children from institutionalization. We will try to do whatever we can to make sure that poverty, AIDS, war, famine, disease and more will never be a reason that a child has to grow up in an institution (even an awesome one like K-Homes!
Frederick Buechner once said, "The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." Friends, the world does not hunger for or need more orphanages. This is not my opinion, there have been major studies and research on the topic. (If you don't believe me, go research it yourself) The world needs Godly, loving believers to come up with creative solutions to aid families and children in crisis. It is in this place, that K- Family Support Program was born.
14 years ago, an elderly couple came to our door asking us to take in their three grandchildren. As they sat on our verandah pleading their case, their 4 year old granddaughter and 5 and 8 year old grandsons sat on their laps. They hugged each other lovingly and my heart just broke. Yes, these three children were technically orphans, but they were clearly LOVED by their impoverished grandparents. Yes, we had openings, but we also had clear standards, if children had another place to go, they could not be admitted to our children’s home. We told them no.
They couldn’t accept that answer, they started crying, begging, pleading with us to take the three little ones, threatening to commit suicide if we didn't take their three grandkids in! I leaned over and asked them, “You love your grandchildren, I can tell. They love you too. If you had their school education taken care of, would you keep them with you?” (School fees are really expensive here.) They both started crying and said yes. In that moment, we started our Family Support Program (FSP) A creative solution to families in need, a tangible way to keep children out of institutions and with their own biological families. We actually took those three children into our home for a few weeks while they started school, and until their grandparents could settle some issues. The oldest is now working in a corporate setting during the week, and actively involved in church leadership on the weekends! Our FSP has morphed and changed and gotten better over the years. We now have 170 children who may have otherwise been admitted to children’s homes and orphanages. Most are single parent families, widowed moms and their children, and extremely impoverished families. We hope to add another 30 each year!
Our family support program seeks to strengthen families. Specifically, living out James 1:27. Our main objective is to help widows and single moms care for their children. Doing whatever we can to ensure that their children stay in their families and communities (and not children’s homes).
Our social work team visits these moms regularly, ensures they are following the expectations of our program, prays for them, encourages them, counsels them and befriends them. Many of our successful single moms have now been trained as social workers themselves, each responsible for a group of 7 families! These single moms are strengthened in practical ways, given a sense of community, and equipped to raise their own children. We support these children through college, and they end up being the first in their entire family to finish high school and attend college. The cycle of poverty is broken forever in that family line!
Friends, I know, I know, even as I write--there are exceptions to every rule. We have desperate cases here, kids that wouldn't even be alive right now if not for the intervention of our home. But they are the exceptions, and there are plenty of existing children's homes to place children from extreme situations into, until we can move to a healthier model of foster-care and adoption. (For those of you who know us, our team, our kids--you know my heart, right? I wouldn't trade one of my precious babies for anything in the world, I adore each one! This is all just advice from an older wiser me as I help a new generation of friends dreaming about making a difference in the lives of children!)
Please, please, if you have a desire to open up a children’s home in Africa, India, Indonesia, Guatemala, Romania, Laos or any other developing country…. I would ask you. No, I would beg you. Implore you. Pray. Research. Challenge yourself. Come up with creative solutions to families in crisis. Come talk to me, we will dream together. Please, don’t start another children’s home.
Please take a few minutes to read one of the most enlightening articles we’ve ever read about child-sponsorships (creative solution to families in crisis). Written by a top economist who expected to de-bunk the myth of successful child-sponsorship programs.
Want to Change the World? Sponsor a Child