I Should Care for Orphans, Now What?
This past Sunday we were challenged to care for orphans. We heard from a man whose family has been deeply engaged in fostering and adoption. They’ve adopted four children from the foster care system and have plans to adopt two more very soon. A part of their ministry is mentoring foster and adoptive families. You can find the sermon here. Some staggering statistics were shared during the sermon that I want to highlight again here:
- Unicef estimates that there are currently 143-210 million orphans worldwide.
- Of these children, 10% – 15% will commit suicide before 18.
- 38,493 Children age out of the foster care system every day.
- 60% of the girls who age out of the foster care system become prostitutes.
- 70% of the boys who age out of the foster care system become hardened criminals.
- 4% of children who age out of the foster care system will earn a four year College Degree.
Let some of these statistics sink in a minute. As I’ve meditated on these and many other statistics like these, I think the most heart-wrenching one for me is that 60% of the girls who age out of the foster care system become prostitutes. Orphans who age out of the foster care system age out with no governmental help, and no sense of family community. Orphans are among the most vulnerable people in society. As Christians we are called to care for the orphan, but what can we practically do?
We were challenged to offer our time and resources to families who are fostering and adopting. The best way to find out particular needs that families have is to ask them. These families likely will not ask for help, but would share ways to help them if they were asked. I want to give you one very practical way to do that now. We have a family at Missio who is right in the middle of fundraising for their adoption. You can give to the Hanson family here. You can read more about their journey on their blog.
One of the toughest things that foster and adoptive families encounter is not being accepted by those they know and love the most. These families and children alike long for normal interactions with the people around them. One of the practical ways to do this is providing meals for families who take in a new foster or adoptive placement. Another practical way to provide normalcy for families is throwing them showers as you would for families bringing a new baby into their lives. I know my wife, and I have been greatly blessed and encouraged by the showering of gifts from our friends and family upon our first foster placement. Babysitting is also a great way to be involved in the care of orphans. People who will babysit foster children have to be approved to do so. Approval often is as easy as submitting to a background check. These are also agency specific, so check with the foster family that you would like to serve by babysitting as to how you would gain approval to do so.
One way that you can be involved with foster care is through providing respite services for families who are fostering children. Respite is providing care for the foster children that families have. This could be used for breaks, weekend trips, or family vacations that foster families are unable to take their foster children with them to. There are some requirements for certification to provide respite. Information is available through the links provided below for specific agencies. This is a great way to serve the families that you know and those you do not know who are fostering children. What a great missional opportunity this presents as well. It would be great to have Christian families approved and willing to take in respite placements for families not connected to Jesus or the Church.
A great way to be involved in caring for orphans is by considering fostering children yourself. This can be done by obtaining certification from a foster care agency. I will provide some links to agencies below. Becoming a licensed foster parent can be a long process so I would encourage you to get the process started. The process includes classes that you would need to attend as well as completion of background assessments and home study. The process for us was arduous but has been rather rewarding. We made great friends throughout the process, some of which are now members at Missio and are getting baptized in a few weeks. I know the Chapdelaine’s would welcome any conversation regarding foster care and how to navigate the foster care world as efficiently as possible , as would Tiffany and I.
At the heart of adoption, we find a glorious and extremely tangible picture of the Gospel. One that beautifully portrays the adoption we as believers have received in becoming the children of God. The love that is shown to a child who is being adopted into their family mirrors the love God shows us in adopting us as sons and daughters. I feel incredibly loved as an adopted member of Gods family, and I’m especially thankful he uses the language of adoption to explain how we are brought into His family. “Adoption is a beautiful picture of redemption. It is the gospel in my living room,” as Katie Davis put it. There are many avenues for adoption. You can adopt internationally, through the foster care system, and through private agencies. We have friends who have done each of these, their experiences have all been different, but all very rewarding. I’ll include some links below for some agencies that are familiar to us, some of the members of Missio, and the Chapdelaine’s below.
This list of links isn’t exhaustive but included are some agencies that are familiar to people at Missio.