From the time Jamie and Maureen Cannalte were married, they were reaching out to children, throwing birthday parties for neighborhood kids and working in the children's ministry at their church. But when they tried to start a family, they faced the heartbreak of three miscarriages, a stillbirth and the loss of a baby born prematurely. Adoption had always been part of their family plan, but though they tried twice to adopt a baby in the U.S., both birth mothers eventually changed their minds.
Despite their devastating grief, the couple's faith in God and love for children led them to pursue international adoption and foster care. Charisma covered the story of their journey to China in 1998 after they traveled there to adopt their first daughter, Amber.
Fast-forward 16 years, and today you'll find their quiver is full. Now a multiracial family of 10, the Cannaltes have "expanded their tent" through almost every kind of adoption experience there is—international and domestic, infants, older children, a sibling group of three, and even an adult adoption. They've also provided refuge for older teens who needed a place to stay as a result of difficulties with their adoptive families.
"When you open up your home and just say, 'It's yours,' God just does miracles," Maureen Cannalte says.
Sure, it's not always smooth sailing, but the Cannaltes' deep love and commitment for their children carries them through the tough times.
"With God's help, we don't just survive, but we thrive as a family," Maureen says. "We are in this together."
A Global Crisis
In a perfect world, no child would be left alone and every family would be an anchor, providing lifelong stability and a safe harbor for each child. But in reality, experts say we now face a global orphan crisis. UNICEF estimates between 143 and 210 million children worldwide are orphans, depending on how you define orphan status, and this figure continues to be impacted by the AIDS epidemic.
But it's hard to talk about the problem. The word orphan conjures images of tattered children whose parents have died or abandoned them, yet that's a narrow definition of the term today. From the glue-sniffing street child in South America to the straight-A student who sits next to your kids in school, many children considered orphans do, in fact, have one or two living parents—but because of poverty, war, incarceration, illness, drug addiction or a host of other reasons, their parents are unable or unavailable to take care of them.
The Bible refers to the orphan as "the fatherless." Some say our nation's unprecedented 62 percent of young unwed mothers contributes to the problem. Without a spouse to fall back on, a mother who faces a crisis—whether medical, emotional, financial or legal—is more likely to lose custody of her child, at least temporarily.
"We're at epic proportions," says Jay Mooney, director of the Assemblies of God's Compact Family Services in Hot Springs, Ark. "We've never faced this proportion of fatherlessness in the history of our nation."
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