Millions of Syrians have been displaced since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011. These refugees have fled the country in search of a new life. Many are children who have never known a life apart from war. Families are desperate. Many risk their lives to try to get to a safe place where they can live in peace. Others risk their lives just by staying where they are.
Recently, the world saw the unspeakable photo of the body of a 3-year-old boy washed up on a Turkish beach. His brother and mother also perished in the dangerous trip they attempted with other Syrian refugees from the Akyarlar area of the Bodrum peninsula in Turkey to the Greek island of Kos. The boy’s family sought a new life in Vancouver, still thousands of miles from where tragedy struck near the start of their long journey. A distraught father returned to his war-torn country without the family he left with, looking for answers that he knows will never come.
Many world leaders have turned their backs, knowing that accepting a significant influx of refugees on their soil will result in challenges that could make their own citizens vulnerable. Yet, glimpses of humanity have emerged. Images of Syrian refugees being welcomed with open arms in Germany have become viral. While the challenges and realities for these families in a foreign land have yet to set in, there is at least a small sense of hope.
So where do we go from here? Where does humanity go from here? This is certainly not the first crisis the world has ever faced—far from it, in fact. And it’s certainly not the last. But the world’s citizenry can certainly learn a lot from it. When families are torn apart, for whatever reason, they need love. The children, especially, need love. And while that seems simple, it’s also incredibly complicated.
It is our collective duty to find viable solutions for vulnerable families and children, not only in response to the Syrian crisis, but for all situations that result in trauma and distress. The alternative will most certainly result in added chaos. But plans must also be carefully thought out and well implemented.
Adoption can certainly be a significant part of the collective solution, but it must be done in a way that always keeps the best interest of the child in mind. In terms of Syrian children who find themselves in a foreign land without a parent, for example, perhaps adoption by a loving family that has the means to provide them with a chance for a good life is the answer. However, what happens if and when a biological parent, or even a member of the extended family, is in position to reunify with and take care of that child after the crisis is over? Are their rights forever relinquished? These questions and others must be pondered with careful consideration.
When there is crisis, there is no easy answer. When there is trauma, there is no easy answer. But we have to start somewhere, and we have to act out of love. We cannot simply turn our backs on vulnerable children and families, because if we do, it will most certainly come back to haunt us in the end.