Sunday, November 3, 2013

Foster Care and Adoption Support {Orphan Sunday Special}

James 1:27 commands believers to "look after orphans and widows in their distress."

How do we do that, church?

Do we all HAVE to adopt???

Absolutely not.

Recently someone said to a group about us, "If you know Brian and Amy, you'll know they are passionate about adoption. If you hang around them long, you'll become convinced too that you should adopt. They think EVERYONE should adopt!"

He was being facetious of course, but I wanted to highlight the fact that there are MANY MANY ways to love on orphans and support the families that have made these orphans their sons and daughters. 

And for the record, we do NOT think everyone should adopt.

Adoption is a calling. You only do it if God calls you into it. Why? Because you will only survive it by God's power in you. I wrote a post about it recently, you can read that HERE.

You should adopt only if becoming a healing home for wounded children sounds appealing to you. Because it is waaaaaaay more than just fundraising and filling out mountains of paperwork. Just as parenting is way more than pregnancy tests and stretchy pants. It's a lifelong commitment to a child whose beginnings are broken.

Have you lost a grandparent? An aging parent or sibling? Perhaps you've been like us and have lost a child...or three.

But...can you imagine being a child yourself and losing your family?

Being utterly defenseless in the harsh world...with no one to dry your tears and tell you it's going to be alright.

Because so far, it hasn't been.

I know how hard it was to bury our son, and I was an adult with a strong marriage and wonderful friends and family supporting me. 

But being a young child without those support systems? Imagine being one of these children who shivers tonight, eating dirt to fill their bellies just so they can sleep and not be pestered by their hunger.

When we adopt these precious treasured children, their pain comes with them. Even babies adopted at birth suffer loss.

Parenting a child with loss is a serious challenge. And it's not one the family can do alone.

Today, on Orphan Sunday, I want to issue a call to support adoptive and foster families.

Because not EVERYONE is called to do the adopting. Some are meant to be support. And let me tell you, from one who has adopted and is supported...I could not do what I do for my family without that support.

I simply could not.

What does it look like to support a family who has said yes to foster or adoptive children?

I asked a woman who is actively supporting a local family in our church family to brainstorm some ways to help and she had some wonderful insight. Listen to what she shared with me: 

"First we should be in prayer about how God wants us to partner with these families and then we should go where he leads and interject ourselves into their daily lives.  

I think the best thing is to be available.  In my experience with working with the family I support, I try to never be in a position that I cannot add one or two of the little people into my day. I have car seats that I purposely keep in my car.  

You have to be assertive at times because the mommy with an army of kids does not even have a clue as to how you can help so don't ask them what can I do...give them options. For example: "I want to help you right now...I could take one or more of your children for a while, I could take some laundry and do it or I could sit here with them while you go out for a while." Often and open ended question to an overloaded mom is only more frustrating.  

Set up ongoing plans. Offering to do laundry weekly for a given amount of time, doing routine yard work, helping with house work are all great ideas.

Impromptu help such as giving a call when going to the store and asking what could you pick up for her today, or taking momma a special treat during the day since she doesn't get out much. Simply sitting with her for some adult conversation. Taking lunch for her and all her kiddies. Sitting with the little people while she goes and takes a nice long interrupted shower. Setting up a date night on the calendar and arranging care for all the little ones. Getting a list from mom of special people she would want or need to be contacted in case of such an event.  

Also, getting a team behind you to be your go to people is helpful. I believe God does not call everyone to adopt but us all being part of the body of Christ should be part of adoptions to help in parenting these children and ultimately turning their lives around and becoming part of the body of Christ too. 

We all need to be prayerful as to HOW we fit into adoption/foster/orphans lives not IF we do."

I couldn't agree more. We are the body of Christ TOGETHER. Some of us are called to the role of adoptive parent, and some are called to help finance the actual adoption. Some are called to be the friend who gives adult conversation and laughter, others are the nitty gritty hands-on servants who occasionally lift the load of the daily grind.

Look around. There are families around you serving the foster kids in your county. Go find them and offer support. Find the adoptive families and pray about your role in their lives.

How might you help? I know from these people who support that they are blessed in their role as much as I am blessed in my role as adoptive parent.

Start by asking God. He's got the best ideas and no doubt some amazing plan for you and the lives of others. 

Oh, and if YOU ARE the adoptive/foster family--LET OTHERS IN TO HELP YOU. Seriously, get over yourself. Yes, your house is a mess. No, you haven't looked in the mirror since 6 am. Yes, they know you have dirty laundry and dirty dishes. LET THEM HELP YOU ANYWAY. 

Both sides will delight in experiencing the blessing of being the Body of Christ to one another. Pray about it...and let Him begin weaving you together.

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