Wrapping Around Foster and Adoptive Families
The goal of your church is not simply to start a peripheral ministry a few are involved in; it’s to establish a foundational culture of caring for orphaned and vulnerable children in which everyone has a role to play.
An environment where it's understood that while we're not all called to do the same thing, we're all certainly capable of doing something. That's the goal. Everyone. Doing. Something.
If we're not careful, we may unintentionally define caring for orphans and the vulnerable too narrowly - to simply mean foster care, adoption or some other form of bringing a child into your home long term. While these are of course crucial and essential places for the Church to engage, they represent only a few of the items on the buffet of limitless opportunities available for people to get involved. The truth is that not everyone is called to foster or adopt. As a matter of fact, most people in the Church won't ever bring a child into their home for any extended period of time. But this does not mean they, and the Church as a whole, don't have an essential and necessary role to play in caring for these kids by supporting the families who do.
If people in your church are hearing only about adoption, then the many that are not considering adoption but still have a heart to be involved won’t engage. If people are hearing just about foster care, then those who aren't able to foster but are still passionate about being involved will feel like there's no place for them to really make an impact. Our message must be clear, broad and helpful - that we all don't have to do the same thing, but we can all certainly do something. If it's too narrow we effectively communicate that the majority of our people have no essential role to play in this, if any at all, which is certainly not the case.
I recently met a man in Nebraska. Mid-60s, retired. He spends most of his time at a local equestrian center re-shoeing and caring for the horses there because many are used in equine therapy for kids who have experienced trauma, abuse and neglect. He told me that while he may not be able to bring a child into his home, he can certainly take care of these horses if it means it helps those kids who need them. I couldn't agree more.
I recently met a couple in Oklahoma. Empty-nesters. He told me he makes the best BBQ in the state (a bold claim!) and LOVES to cater any orphan care ministry related event at their church including respite nights for couples, info meetings for those considering getting involved and even taking meals over to families homes who have had a new child placed with them. They told me that while they may not be in a position to bring a child into their home right now they can certainly do their best to bless those who are. I couldn't agree more.
I recently spent time with a pastor in Kansas. Large, historic, traditional church. They've established a significant fund that people can invest in. In part, it, is used to (and I quote the pastor here) "Ensure that under no circumstances should it cost anyone in our church one penny to foster or adopt a child". Wow! He told me he recognizes that with a large demographic of senior-aged adults, they have to be diligent about presenting unique opportunities to get involved that don't simply consist of bringing children into the home. He's convinced they have thousands of dollars in an account right now waiting to be used by families because of it. I couldn't agree more.
While we are not all called to do the same thing, we are all certainly capable of doing something. Perhaps it could be said this way: You're either called to bring children into your home or you're capable of serving and supporting those who do. So here's a visual to help us see some simple, unique and diverse ways that a community of people can wrap around and practically serve foster and adoptive families - and in so doing participate in their calling and responsibility to care for kids by serving and supporting the families who have brought them into their homes.
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