The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan has left thousands of refugees with no place to turn, many of them children.
"No one chooses to become a refugee. Refugees are human beings like all of us who are forced to run for their lives to escape war, violence or persecution," Christopher Boian, senior communications officer for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Washington, D.C., told TODAY Parents.
There are 20.7 million refugees worldwide, according to the U.N.
"More than half of the world’s refugees are children and often they are alone, separated through no fault of theirs from parents or other adult family members to care for them," Boian said.
How to adopt Afghan refugee kids
There's no easy path to adopting refugee children.
According to the United Nations, nearly 400,000 in Afghanistan have been forced from their homes since the beginning of the year. They joined 2.9 million Afghans already displaced across the country since the end of 2020.
"All of us have, and know deep down that we have, an elemental human obligation to help people like this in their hour of need, just as we would hope and expect to be assisted were we to find ourselves in a similar situation," Boian said.
The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, which includes the United States as a co-signer, requires that every attempt must be made to place a child in their country of origin before international adoption can be considered.
In short, the child must have been put on an in-country adoption list, and despite attempts, no domestic placement was made.
Because refugee children are often displaced outside their country of origin, their adoption would be processed under the adoption laws of their new country.
Prior to Taliban takeover, the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan required parent(s) to be eligible to adopt under U.S. law. American adoptions from Afghanistan were rare; now that the Taliban has taken over, it's unlikely prior adoption agreements will be upheld and parents in the process of adopting are scrambling to try to get their children safely out of Afghanistan.
How to help Afghan refugees
In Washington, D.C., Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area put a call out for volunteers to help assist resettled Afghans. In the past two weeks, the organization said it has helped 68 families and 294 people, and is immediately anticipating another 150 referrals.
"Persons interested being licensed as a foster parent for unaccompanied refugee minors in Washington, D.C. or Northern VA are invited to fill out our interest form," Kristyn Peck, the Chief Executive Officer of Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, told TODAY Parents.
In California, Jewish Family & Community Services, East Bay has created an urgent Afghan evacuation effort. The organization reported it has already welcomed 40 people to begin their new lives and are currently waiting for 23 more people to arrive. It has also accepted the cases of another 33 who are still in Afghanistan.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is a national refugee resettlement nonprofit supporting newly arrived Afghan families across the country, with particular needs for volunteers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and the greater Seattle area. Volunteers can sign up for additional locations online. On August 24, the organization is also hosting a webinar for people interested in learning more about how to help.
You can find more links and resources to help Afghan children and adults here.