I feel like I've hit you hard this month. The global orphan crisis is formidable to look squarely in the face. Thank you for trudging through the ugliness of it with me. I'm convinced there is a no more accurate portrayal of God's love for us than adoption. In my absolute wretchedness, God picked me up, cleaned the filth off of me, gave me garments fit for a daughter of the King and called me His own. Can I not go and do likewise for the "least of these"?
This looks different for each person. There are a good number of ways to get involved in caring for the orphan:
1. Sponsor a child. Think of this as orphan prevention.*
2. Similarly, financial giving to sponsorship organizations helps families fight poverty, which is a leading motivation for giving a child up for adoption in Third World nations.
3. Shop! Especially this time of year, you're already shopping for gifts. Make it count. Purchase gifts that benefit African women, adoption fundraising, etc.**
4. Become a Guardian or Prayer Warrior for children on websites like Reese's Rainbow.
5. Advocate for orphans on social media sites.
6. Volunteer to help families who are fundraising for an adoption.
7. Give financially to adopting families and/or donate towards adoption grants.***
8. Recognize the unique challenges kinship adoptive families face (it's not easy being raised by your grandparents/aunts/uncles, and for them to raise their grand kids/nieces/nephews). It can be highly isolating for these families. Their stories are almost always tragic. Regard them just as you would any other adoptive family. They need your support!
9. Become foster certified to offer respite for foster families.****
10. Speaking of foster families, boy do they have a doozy of a job! Here are a couple of ways to assist foster families:
A. Upon placement, meals can be a godsend, because they are running like crazy the first week (getting kiddos enrolled in school, therapy and counseling appointments set up, doctor's appointments, etc.). They also may need some clothes for their new kids, depending on what they already have in their stash.
B. Upon reunification (or any other reason for leaving the foster family's home), support the family during their "regrouping" time. If there are other kids in the home, keep in mind, they just lost a sibling.
C. Also, keep in mind that other kids already established in the home (either biological or prior adoptions) may or may not be thrilled with their new sibling(s). Be sensitive in assuming they are on board. (Thank you, Melissa, for bringing this to my attention).
11. Mentor foster children. Kids in group homes are not getting the one-on-one time they desperately crave.
12. Become foster parents.
14. How can you help foster kids and adopted children? I've already thrown out quite a few things to do (or not do), but here are a couple quick reminders:
B. Use discretion when talking with the parents. This may come as a surprise, but not all foster and adopted kids are deaf. They can hear your insensitive inquiries. Asking if their "real" parents died of AIDS, or are in jail, or did drugs is not cool.
C. Along the same lines, these are children we are talking about, not fish in a fishbowl. Unless they are auditioning for American Idol, they probably don't want all the attention.
So there you go. Just a small list of possibilities. I urge you to not glibly skip over numbers 9-13. It's easy to assume those toughies are for someone else. But maybe. just maybe, one of those numbers is piercing your soul.
Thanks for walking through this challenging month with me.
P.S. A big, fat "Thank you" to Tiffany for sharing her Pinterest board with me. And for Lesley sharing her heart for foster care! You ladies rock my world.
*Compassion International and World Vision are two great sponsorship organizations.
**Everything from Pampered Chef, Etsy, necklaces, coffee, etc. Check out my friend's Pinterest board. It's a veritable smorgasbord of amazingness, including fair trade options and opportunities galore to bless those in need and assist adoptive families in their fundraising. http://pinterest.com/abeautiful_mess/shopping-with-a-purpose/
***Show Hope is just one of several reputable grant organizations. Just promise me you'll research the organization first. We don't want to pad the wallets of scammers.
****It's only necessary to become certified if you are going to babysit for an extended amount of time (ie. a weekend). Offering your friends an evening out without the kiddos (hint, hint) does NOT require certification.