November is National Adoption Awareness Month but that can get lost in the headlines of the day (or year). James 1:27 mandates that the Church and her people “look after orphans in their distress”. In the work we have done this is no easy task however we feel the local church has what it takes to do the job but just needs a nudge every now and then. Here are 7 ways your church can help adoptive families.
1) Pray that connections between the child and parents would overcome the child’s traumatic past.
In all cases a child that has been given up for adoption got the biggest rejection anyone can get. Rejection from the very people that brought him or her into the world. In sadder cases their closest relationships are the very ones that abused or neglected them. When trauma comes through relationships the only way to find healing is through relationships. Please pray for the adoptive parents in your church that the bonds and connection between parent and child will overcome whatever traumatic past that child has.
2)Babysit for the adoptive families.
Everyone deserves a night out, even if it's only going to Home Depot and the grocery store. These nights can be restorative as parents get a chance to step back and reflect on their children as the wind in their sails rather than the anchor that holds them back. Think about time and ways you can give adoptive parents these opportunities even if they are little. Oh...and because they are adopted there is no paperwork.
3) Help adoptive parents with some schedule support.
We run and run from one event, practice, game, or recital to another. Our schedules can be dizzying. Of course that compounds when a family has more kids with diverse interests. Supporting families in those situations can add just enough breathing room to reduce daily stress.
4) Bring adoptive families dinner once a month.
In the Waller home, we call dinner time the “witching hour”. Emotions from the day are high and neural function is low because we are all running on fumes. Consider bringing dinner to your adoptive families at regular intervals and assign someone to be sure it gets done.
5) Train your children’s staff and volunteers to be trauma informed.
Foster Parents are well trained and understand the impact trauma has on the brains and belief of children from hard places. Church childcare volunteers and staff need to be able to implement these same practices and guiding philosophies as they partner with parents in the spiritual development of their adopted children. Though this might sound daunting there are many resources available and we are here to help.
6) Make time to listen to the needs of your adoptive families.
This one is easy and everyone loves it when a pastor (or church leader) gives them their undivided attention. Take them to coffee, dinner, lunch, desert, drinks… or whatever you want. Arrange for childcare and just ask them to share their story and their everyday struggles. Take note and commit to one or two action items.
7) Create teams to provide wrap around care for your adoptive families.
Consider putting these suggestions into action and create a formalized team to care for your adoptive families. They need help with babysitting, carpooling, home projects, schedule support to name a few. This team can be from a single small group that shares the load of a church can assign teams to meet each need.