By Alicia Constant
Patrick Henry College
Caleb Loomis, rising PHC senior, is advocating for adoptions with Romania Reborn.
Caleb Loomis has a heart for adoption advocacy.
His desire began in 2005, when his family spent the summer in Russia and fostered two 15-year-old Russian girls. Though international adoptions had not yet been banned in Russia, the process was nearly impossible—and when the Loomis family tried to adopt Julia and Angela, they were unable to pay the exorbitant costs.
“The red tape is hurting those who least deserve to be hurt,” Loomis said. “I believe my vocational calling is to mediate adoptions, to help Christian homes and churches welcome children in and give them secure and hopeful futures.”
This summer, Loomis has turned his eyes to another country where adoption is rare and difficult: Romania. Loomis is interning with the Purcellville-based charity Romania Reborn, which directly supports and advocates for Christian adoption ministries in Romania. Because the Romanian government banned international adoptions in 2004, the charity focuses on awakening and empowering indigenous Christians to answer God’s call to care for over 80,000 needy children now in state care.
“It’s our hope that churches will rise up to God’s call to visit orphans, a direct Christian call to help the desperate and the innocent,” Loomis said. “It’s a flame that was slow to start, but it is growing in momentum.”
During his internship, Loomis has been researching strategies to combat adoption obstacles, and also investigating what happens to orphans who are not adopted. Loomis’s research will be compiled into a report that Romania Reborn plans to use to advocate for less restrictive adoption laws. Currently, the adoption process is long, costly and difficult. Over 9,000 children are abandoned in Romania each year. Romanian orphans often face developmental challenges brought on by neglect, and they have a high risk of falling prey to human traffickers.
A major obstacle to Romanian adoption is simply awareness.
“Many Romanians—from those in governmental positions down to the man on the street—believe that adoption feeds human trafficking, and that adopted children are often actually trafficked to sex rings or even sold for their organs,” said Romania Reborn’s President Jayme Metzgar. “We strongly believe that the opposite is true: that the restrictions on adoption have in fact placed children at greater risk for trafficking than ever before.”
A social worker at Hope House, one of the orphan ministries Romania Reborn supports, leads her small group in prayer after a morning bible study.
Loomis said many Romanian Christians have not yet fully realized God’s call in James 1:27, “to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” Romania Reborn focuses on finding children distinctly Christian homes, which makes empowering the local church fundamental.
“Adoption is not an American ideal that we’re imposing on another country; it’s a direct Christian call,” Loomis said. “We’re just assisting God’s children in Romania to offer love and a home to those who are most in need.”
Another obstacle to Romanian adoption is paperwork. Beyond the adoptive family’s background checks and legal fees, Romanian orphans must produce birth certificates for their biological parents and grandparents—which, in cases of abandonment, can be practically impossible. “Often the kids who most need to be adopted are the least likely to have that paperwork,” Loomis said.
That financial and bureaucratic burden can prevent many Christian families from adopting, which is why Romania Reborn helps raise funds and also sponsors foster families. In conjunction with Hope House, one of the orphan ministries it supports, Romania Reborn hosts camps—similar to Vacation Bible School—where orphans can receive love and care they may not otherwise know.
Romania also faces a more insidious barrier, one that has even crept into the church: racism. The Romani people, commonly known as “Gypsies,” make up roughly 2.5 percent of the Romanian population. Yet up to 90 percent of orphans are Romani.
“The Romani are almost universally despised, hated, rejected, and discriminated against [in Romania],” Loomis said. “At the same time, many are involved in criminal organizations and corruption. It’s not a culture with a Christian focus… [because of] a systematic expulsion by other Christian cultures.”
Consequently, the Romani are vulnerable to trafficking, blocked from employment opportunities, and not allowed to assimilate into the eastern European culture. As a devastating consequence, Romani orphans are often unwanted.
To raise awareness in both Romania and the U.S., Loomis has worked to develop Romania Reborn’s social media strategies. He’s publicizing stories from nearly 300 children that Romania Reborn has helped to find permanent homes: children like 1-year-old “Violet,” who suffered from a severe case of rickets that left her unable to sit up or crawl.
Romania Reborn’s Executive Director Christian Feavel traveled to Romania two weeks ago and visited Violet’s new adoptive family. “She is sitting up, crawling, standing, talking, and well on her way to being completely healthy,” Feavel said. “The transforming power of love is truly amazing!”
Loomis is excited about paving the way for future PHC students to intern at Romania Reborn.
“We applaud Patrick Henry College for encouraging its students to gain real-world experience, and we're grateful that Romania Reborn has had the opportunity to participate this summer,” Metzgar said. “Caleb's skills, initiative, and willing spirit have already been a blessing to our ministry, and he reflects very well both on PHC and on his family.”
Loomis also hopes that this internship will be the start of a career of adoption advocacy, either overseas or in the U.S. After graduation, Loomis hopes to continue researching issues surrounding adoption law.
“Most people don’t know that there are more families interested in adoption than the total number of U.S. children available to adopt. But people get discouraged by the red tape, when a social worker doesn’t call them back, by the roadblocks in place,” he said. “God has called the American church to step up to the plate with regards to adoption. I want to spend my life emphasizing that need, and then providing legal and financial means to place orphans in Christian homes.”