“I think you might have helped me decide not to adopt.”
She was worried that I’d be dismayed at her words, thinking I wanted everyone to adopt. I had just delivered a fairly candid, vulnerable message to a group of women on the topic of adoption. In our conversation afterward, I reassured her of what I’ve long held to be true:
[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@kirsten828″ suffix=”#adoption”]Not everyone is called to adopt. But every child deserves a family. [/inlinetweet]
Everyone can do something to help orphans. And I do wish everyone would. I base my opinion on God’s adoption of us into His family (Ephesians 1:5), and the exhortation in James 1:27 that we show pure and blameless religion by looking after orphans (and widows).
In honor of National Adoption Month here are seven ways to help orphans even if you don’t plan to adopt:
- Educate yourself. Understand—to the degree that our small minds can grasp it—how vast the number of orphans there are in the world. Dig into Scripture to understand God’s heart for orphans. Allow that knowledge to show you what role you might play in this arena.
- Use your platform. Are you an athlete? Join an organization like Rod’s Racing and raise funds to facilitate the adoption of a special-needs child. Are you a speaker? Advocate from the stage by partnering with a local adoption agency or even an international organization like Compassion International. At the very least, follow the likes of such organizations on social media and use your own channels to help promote their posts.
- Meet the tangible needs of adoptive families. The largest obstacle many people have in adopting is the sheer cost of it. More people would adopt if it were in their financial reach. When you learn of a family stepping out in faith to adopt and they’re raising funds on a crowdsourcing platform, be willing to contribute. Or donate to a general fund through reputable organizations like Show Hope. Find out what a family’s other needs are (furniture, airline mileage, clothing, legal counsel) to determine whether there’s anything else you can offer.
- Mobilize your church. Connect your local church to an orphanage. Collectively, the local body can offer a great deal of aid. Through an on-going relationship, the needs are better known and met. While I’d love to eradicate the need for orphanages completely, I’ll settle for better care for children who don’t yet have a family.
- Roll up your sleeves. At the very least, commit to prayer for orphans and families. Can you help run errands or edit documents? Adoption—both before and for a few years after—requires an advanced degree in paperwork. Or, maybe you’d be willing to do some extra reading to understand the deep wounds of trauma so that you could provide skilled respite care. Parents (and foster parents) of children with trauma in their history often need breaks, but if substitute caregivers don’t also understand trauma, those breaks aren’t actually helpful. Sometimes they’re even detrimental. But one of the most valuable things a person can do is merely offer non-judgmental, listening ears.
- Sponsor a child. Organizations such as Compassion International allow you to search for and sponsor a child who has been orphaned. Because orphaned children are especially vulnerable to human trafficking, this is of vital importance.
- Become a CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate). You’ll make regular visits to a child who’s been placed in a home through the foster care system, showing them attention, care, and personal investment during what is undoubtedly a very trying season in their life. And you’ll represent that child’s best interests in court hearings.
If we liken the desperate need for children to know the love of a family to the battle the Israelites faced in Exodus 17, these precious kids are on the battlefield, struggling to live and to learn their place in the world. Moses’ role, like that of an adoptive parent, was to hold up his arms to God in faith. Yet he grew weary as the battle drew on and he had to rely on Aaron and Hur to support his arms.
Even if you’re not Moses in this picture, you can be like Aaron and Hur. For the sake of the orphan.
I’ll be speaking on this topic at TEDxTwinFalls on February 18th. Stay tuned for tickets if you’d like to come!
And please considering sharing this post as a way to shed light on the topic.
November 19th is National Adoption Day.