22 November 2014

National Adoption Month

National Adoption Month.

By now, surely you know this is a thing.  Right?

Remember I wrote it about it here?  And reposted it last year.

I wanted to refresh the post a bit today.  There is a big push this year to #FlipTheScript for National Adoption Month.  In some ways, I get it; but in other ways I just want to get people to know there is a script at all.  I am desperate for folks to know there are ways to be involved in the arena of adoption and orphan care without ever adopting.  My agenda will never ever involve convincing someone to adopt.  Never ever.  {And I know they say never say never and songs have been written about it but still, I think its safe to say that is not my job.}  [I found this article yesterday after writing this part of the post.  I think it is lovely.  Warning, there are some curse words so if that will turn you off to the whole thing do not click through.  It is honest and true and touches on the variables of adoption and the discussions around it so very well. Click here to read it.]

So I'll start with this. . . Technically, National Adoption Month began as a campaign to recruit folks to adopt via foster care, I think.  However, it has become a much bigger conversation starter. There is so much more to orphan care than just adoption.  Obviously adoption is an important part of it, but adoption alone leaves gaping holes in the lives of vulnerable children.  And every adoption story begins with great loss, and that great loss can be carried for a lifetime. Keep that in mind always.

So what can you do?  Here are some ideas:

1.  Pray for an adoptive family/foster family.  Do you have friends that are adopting?  Do you know someone that is waiting?  Pray for them.  Often.   Pray that their hearts would be encouraged as their soon-to-be child(ren) wait.  Pray for hope in the heart of that waiting child.  Maybe take it a step further and send them a note telling them you are praying?

2.  Encourage an adoptive family/foster family.  This could work either pre- or post-adoption.  Send a gift card for dinner out.  Celebrate with them! Throw a shower! One friend handed me a wordless book at PWOC one week for "our child," this was months before we got 'the call.'  This simple gesture reminded me that I wasn't waiting alone. 

3.  Pray for a waiting child.  This will require bravery.  Look at your state's photolisting.  Find a child with whatever parameters you choose and pray hard.  The children listed here are legally-free for adoption which means the parental rights of their birth parents have been terminated.  You can find the listing by clicking here.  Pray for the just-right family to open their home to him/her.

4.  Support family preservation by sponsoring a child.  This is critical.  We can change things dramatically by starting here.  There are many places that do this well.  We sponsor through Compassion International.  They are just one of many that do this effectively within the local communities via local leaders. Sponsoring a child allows that child and his family to have basic needs met.  This alleviates some of the tension these families face which then allows the children to get an education. An education opens doors that wouldn't normally be opened for these children. Sponsorship is a long-term commitment with long-range outcomes. Research an organization to ensure you want to partner with them for the long haul.

5. Pray for foster care programs that are starting in other countries.  Yes, our foster care system needs work, but when done well it serves a good purpose.  Some parts of the world are just starting to build foster care programs.  Pray earnestly for them. I have friends on the ground in Guatemala that are ministering alongside a foster care start up.  You can click here to learn more about it.

6. Help your local foster care office.  We had an 'in' with our local office so I was able to find out quickly how we could help.  Their immediate need was getting that emergency clothing closet up and running.  Other offices may have other needs.  I surely appreciate every single thing that has been sent to us for our local office.  But if you have been itching to do something local - now is the the time. If nobody calls you back (because they might not, they are busy folks) then you march down there with a Wal-mart gift card and a few backpacks or warm hats or something.  Attach a note that says you want to help support their office, tell them you bought the gift card so the caseworkers could get things for children that come into care.  Ask them to contact you about how else you can help. Also, maybe mention that you appreciate their hard work on behalf of children.  They will call you back or email you shortly.

7. Read. I still highly recommend Orphan Justice and Adopted for Life as good starting points.

8. Shop Smarter. This is huge.  The dollars we spend at this time of year can potentially multiply if we spend wisely.  I am going to make a list of places to shop in the next day or two.  I will link to it from here when I finish.  Promise.  Here it is! Click here.

Thanks for reading this far, I know it is a lot of information.  And really just the very tip of the iceberg.  Adoption has forever changed me, but not because it is a real-life fairy tale.  My faith has been stretched in the waiting and in the loving and in the day-to-day.  My heart has been softened to the struggles of children that carry so much weight on their shoulders.  My perspective has changed about our government agencies that have been tasked to play the role of 'guardian' for children.  I am burdened for the Church to know the many ways they can support children in crisis and then to act.

If you aren't sure about how you can get involved, feel free to ask.  I would love to chat with you more about it.  The need is great, the opportunities are vast, and our God is able.

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