Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. Psalm 68:5-6
The Bible is very clear in giving us orders to protect certain groups- the poor, the widows, and orphans. In honor of National Adoption Awareness I am going to give some practical ideas for ways you-yes YOU- can help orphans across our world.
Obviously, the biggest impact you can have on the life of a child is to adopt. Adoption is a beautiful picture of what God does for us when He welcomes us into His family. It gives hope and love to someone who did not have an abundance of either previously.
Sometimes, even if our heart is in adoption, it is not the right time. This is where I am right now. I would be willing to open my home to more children, but it just can’t happen here and now. So what are some things I can do? Is there anything? Yes! There are many things I can do to help out children. First and foremost I can pray. I can teach my children to pray for all the children of the world who need parents. James 5:16b: The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. I truly believe that verse. When we pray, it is not just empty, meaningless words.
Find an orphan ministry near you and get connected. Perhaps there is a group home in your area where you can volunteer. Maybe you can’t find anything in your area. Maybe you have a reason that keeps you from having the time to volunteer as much as you would like. Maybe you can find another way to help. Reach Orphans With Hope is an ministry that could use your help. They have several options for you to help out. You could help right now by sending a Ukrainian orphan to camp. Or, you could send a child a Christmas present. Or, you could choose to help with medical assistance, humanitarian projects, or the orphan graduate project. Here in America, we tend to think of being a graduate as being a good thing. However, when speaking of orphan graduates, it means a child who did not get adopted and is too old (usually around 16) to stay in the orphanage any longer. Many of these kids end up going to technical schools. These technical schools are not ideal conditions. I read once about one that had four shower stalls in the whole place. There were 400 people living there at the time. Most of the kids end up in a life of crime. About 10% commit suicide by their 18th birthday. 70% of the girls will end up in prostitution. 60% of the males will end up in prison. Most will be on drugs. It is hard to type these stats. I don’t see empty numbers. I see faces of the kids I have spent time over a few summers. It breaks my heart to think of them in this type of life. They are not “bad kids”. They are hopeless kids who don’t know where else to turn.
Another way to help if you are not able to adopt, is to help out people who are adopting. Adoption is a long, hard, expensive process. There are sooo many ways to help that more smoothly. If the couple adopting already has children, offer to help out with their kids. There is a lot of paperwork involved that must be filled out. Helping take care of their children while they are working on that is not hard, but it makes life less stressful for them. You could also offer to host/organize some type of fundraiser. I have seen and heard about bake sales, yard sales, and 5K runs. The possibilities are endless. Maybe the couple is doing something themselves to raise the money. Contribute to that. If you don’t know of anyone adopting that could use your help, consider visiting the Fleur de Lee’s website. They are creating glass tile pendants and selling them to fund their adoption. They have a wide variety to choose form AND they take special orders. Their son is in Africa. They have created pendants that are maps of Africa with a heart inside. I did a special request order of a Ukrainian map with a heart. It only took two weeks to get it and I LOVE it!!
Now, on to some things you can do for a child once they have been adopted. Organize a shower for them! Everyone thinks of throwing showers for people who have babies, even adopted babies. A lady I used to go to church with told me when they adopted their son they had nothing. He is their only child, so they did not have child sized clothing, child appropriate books and movies, no toys, nothing for him. Keep in mind, even if a couple has other children it does not mean they have no needs. A person coming to live in your house is a big deal. That person is going to have needs.
Equally important is the offer of meals. If you aren’t a good cook, perhaps a gift certificate to a restaurant would be appreciated. Here is a quote from a mother who adopted three boys from Russia when asked about ways to help newly adopted families:
Meals! We had 3 meals brought to us and that was it. I could have used much more. Usually when people have a baby, our church will provide meals for at least a week. I know that we came home just before Christmas and that had some to do with it. But frankly, I don’t think that people realize the impact it has on a family to bring in 3 older children at once. I have felt like we gave birth to triplets! But our triplets couldn’t be put into a crib and everything was safe and sound. Ours could get out of bed, get into anything that they could find, and disable or destroy things in a matter of seconds. It was so exhausting for ever so long. So meals would have been a great help.
Also, offer some free babysitting services. It may be a while before a couple is ready to go out without their child. Maybe they need a good bit of time for bonding. But eventually, they may want/need a little adult time. Free child care that they can trust is one less thing to worry about.