Thursday, November 13, 2014

We are all called to care.

Throughout both our adoption journeys, I have heard from numerous people whose hearts have also been drawn towards adopting, but for one reason or another believed that it wasn't their time. That's ok. God puts adoption on people's hearts for various reasons. Some of us are called to adopt. Some of us are called to foster. Some of us are called in other ways. But, we are all called to care.

In honor of this year's National Adoption month, here are 7 things to consider doing in order to fulfill the call of James 1:27 to care for orphans.

  1. Pray. One of the most important things we all can do is to pray for those in need. There are numerous online photo listings of children who are need of forever families. Browse through the photos of children in your state and pray for them by name. See the following favorites of mine or just do a google search for waiting children in your area.
  2. Donate a suitcase. Oftentimes, foster children carry their belongings from home to home in nothing but a trash bag. Our agency, Lutheran Social Ministries of NJ, is doing a luggage drive to help support local foster children. If you can give, please do. If a suitcase or duffel bag is too much, partner with a few friends. For those of you local to me, feel free to drop off any gifts at my house, and I'll be sure they get to LSM. Kids should have the dignity of packing all their earthly belongings into something other than a trash bag.
  3. Donate money. While adoption through foster care can often be done for free or for close to free, occasionally there are upfront expenses. On the other hand, international adoptions and domestic infant adoptions can be quite costly. There are all sorts of agency fees for home studies and matching services, not to mention the price of fingerprinting and background checks. Then, there are often costs for helping birthmothers and for hospital and travel expenses. Many times, agencies try to offset this financial burden by having fundraisers or by taking donations to offset what families need to pay. Some recommendations:
    • We adopted our littlest one through A Act of Love in Sandy, Utah. They are a great agency that really cared not only for us, but also for our baby's birth mamma. I recommend them both for the wonderful experience we had with them and because they are in one of only two states where same-sex adoption is illegal. If you donate to them, you can know your money won't support same-sex adoption. 
    • If you personally know a couple adopting, you can also donate to them. Many expectant adoptive parents have struggled so much before an adoptive match that they are hesitant to share any kind of news with friends. That means they often miss out on baby showers and have to purchase all sorts of things in addition to all the costs of the adoption. I know my husband and I appreciated the gift cards (and diapers) that we received once A came home with us. Our choir also threw us an impromptu shower. This time around, we've been on the receiving end of clothes and offers for beds, etc. That has been wonderful. Don't be shy about asking what people need. My guess is that they won't be shy about telling you (and you'll save the hassle of duplicating a gift.)
    • Consider donating to the James 1:27 Foundation. They offer grants to Christian families in Iowa who are pursuing adoption. You can also google other foundations offering grants.
  4. Donate time. One of the nicest offers we had when we left our home in a hurry to meet our daughter (we had about 12 hours notice) was a call from one of our friends to come clean while we were gone. It so happened that my mom had already taken care of that, but what a practical and thoughtful gesture!

    That same friend offered to give me a few hours a week once we bring home our four new ones. This way, I can grocery shop, take a nap, clean a toilet, or whatever!

    Also consider donating your time to watch children already in the family. Part of adoption preparedness requires multiple appointments for things such as fingerprinting, intake interviews, interviews with various caseworkers, and required classes. Offer to babysit the children in the home so parents can attend the things they need to complete.
  5. Start a ministry in your church. There are as many ideas for blessing adoptive families as there are people to have them. Here are just a few:
    • Partner with Orphan Sunday to plan fundraisers to help families considering adoption.
    • Offer babysitting to those in the community who foster or adopt. 
    • Host an adoption support group or community event.
  6. Become a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). CASAs are appointed by judges to advocate for children who have been abused and neglected. They make sure these precious children don't get lost in the system or end up in inappropriate foster care. CASAs are volunteers who stay with the children until the case is closed. Learn more here and here.
  7. Take the plunge. Maybe adoption really isn't for you. But, then again, maybe it is. If you know for certain that you are not called to adopt, then please don't feel guilted into it. But, if you don't know for sure, please prayerfully consider adopting or fostering. Yes, it is overwhelming. Yes, the paperwork is daunting and the process is intimidating. Yes, the path is unpredictable and often lonely. The dirty little secret is that we are never ready. But, whenever I feel overwhelmed, I like to remember the following quote: "I used to wonder if I was ready to be an adoptive parent, but then I realized children are never ready to be orphans." (Glenn Styffe)
Let's face it, adoption can be scary, but that's mostly because it is unfamiliar. Adoption can also be an amazing experience, one that gives an intimate view of what God means when He describes how He adopted us into His family. 

What other things would you add to this list?

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