COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Christian Examiner) – The limited release last week of "The Drop Box" documentary was a bigger success than even its producer Focus on the Family had anticipated.
Shown at 727 theaters nationwide March 3-5, the movie -- about the love expressed by a South Korean pastor for abandoned infants -- was seen by more than 200,000 people.
"I'm proud of this film," Focus President Jim Daly told Christian Examiner. "It offers a firsthand look at both the beauty and the challenge of caring for society's most vulnerable. Long after the credits roll, my hope is that viewers will continue to think about ways they can engage this issue in a meaningful way, whether through adoption or through supporting adoptive families."
Orphan Care is a newer emphasis for Focus, brought into its mix of ministries by Daly, himself orphaned as a child by the death of his mother and absence of his father. The family-centric Focus ministry earned recognition from the White House and Congress after it took on a major role nationally in facilitating foster-care adoptions, following Daly's being named president of the organization in 2005.
Nearly 400,000 children ranging in age from birth to 18 years old were in the U.S. foster care system in 2012, according to childwelfare.gov. About half – 46 percent – were reunited with their families in less than a year. Some stay in the system until they turn 18 and are unceremoniously told they are adults, with no safety net.
"Studies show foster care is a highway to health problems, homelessness, early pregnancy, arrest, incarceration, and sex trafficking. And those are the lucky kids," wrote Deb Stone last May in a column on StirJournal.com. She's been a foster care provider for nearly 20 years.
According to Stone's research, foster care alumni are five times more likely to commit suicide and eight times more likely to be hospitalized for a serious psychiatric disorder, despite figures showing the child welfare industry spends $15-20 billion annually to one million adults to serve foster children and their families.
In a 2014 book about the broken foster care system, "To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care," author Cris Beam writes, "[N]obody – not the kids, not the foster or biological parents, not the social workers, the administrators, the politicians, the policy experts – think the system is working."
FOCUS ON FOSTER CARE
Focus on the Family has developed the website ICareAboutOrphans.org to provide guidance and support for foster parents, adoptive parents and those who stand with foster and adoptive parents. It is part of its ongoing plan to provide resources, such as the film "The Drop Box," which not only focuses on the plight of orphaned children, but on solutions for the future.
"The scope of this problem is too big for any one person or organization to solve, but we can join forces to make a difference," according to the website. "Together, we desire to communicate that "YOU are God's Plan for the Orphan" – each of us with our own role to play in caring for His children."
The Hartford [Connecticut] Institute for Religion Research determined that in 2010 across America there were 314,000 Protestant and other Christian churches, 24,000 Catholic and Orthodox churches, and about 12,000 non-Christian religious congregations.
Focus leaders suggest every Christian church could take in just one foster child.
"The Drop Box" is the second in a series of films that focus on "reclamation," the importance of marriage, family and a Christ-centered response to the social issues presented in each film.
The first film, "Irreplaceable," in May 2014 – about the importance of one man/one women families – drew more than 130,000 viewers in more than 700 theaters across the U.S. and Canada, and continues its reach through DVD sales.
"We're drawn to compelling stories," Daly said in explaining why Focus on the Family is investing in film efforts. "There's a reason Jesus chose to teach in parables. ... Audiences will leave theaters empowered to make a difference. It happened with 'Irreplaceable' and it will happen with The Drop Box.
"Not everyone is called to do what Pastor Lee is doing or adopting a child themselves, but all Christians are called to care for orphans," Daly continued. "Watching this documentary changes a person; it draws you to care even more deeply for the most vulnerable among us."
"The Drop Box" will be released on DVD in the near future, and it will also be made available for viewing at churches.