Stepping Up to Adoption/Orphan Ministry

Amidst piling documents into our first dossier, we sensed that our adoption journey was to be a wider stretching. Beyond becoming mommy and daddy to three beloved gifts from China, God nudged us further. Our hearts enlarged for more kids than those to be in our family. We stood in our daughter’s social welfare institute in Chengdu, China, surrounded by 500 orphaned children, and the game changed. Like so many other adoptive families, James 1:27 became marching orders.

Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes. ~ David Platt.

Platt resonates with those of us with hearts for orphans, because we’ve walked the halls of orphanages, looking into the solemn eyes of babies filling row after row of cribs. We’ve watched our own adopted children blossom, fueled by family love. We’ve seen and we’ve held, and we were moved to action.

No longer were we indifferent, nor were the adoptive families that we connected with. We believe the church and its people are charged with orphan care, and have expectations for how our home church should be carrying this out. We loved our church, but had our list of “shoulds”. We thought it should support adoptive families, should serve in foster homes, should raise awareness.
Then it hit us.

We WERE the church.

If we wanted the church to serve orphans, WE were the servants that needed to step up. So, a group of us met to dream, pray and plan, and an adoption ministry was born. Three years later, we are two busy adoptive moms, who said yes to a leading.

orphanministry

Neither of us felt ready, has time, or is exceptional qualified. The good news is that this is God’s thing. Our only claims are that we long to empty out the world’s orphanages, have hearts for adoption and foster care and have sought Him. We fail, cancel events and always have to keep our desire to do MORE or LESS in check. But, He has come through month after month, project after project. And when things failed in our eyes? Our guess is that it was an idea of our own making.

Heart Check: If adoption and orphan care ministry stirs your heart, first pray through whether this is something YOU want to do, or something God wants you to do. Be mindful first of stepping before God directs it. Being parents to your adopted child is a high calling. Are you being asked for more, or do you just desire more? Is this the right season?

Or consider, is God stirring your heart toward such work, but you aren’t feeling ready or adequate? We get it, but you’ll have to get over it. Never will you be ready. This is God-sized. He just wants you to show up.

If you made it past the caution statements, here is a practical glimpse into our group. We are ACT 24:12 based on Proverbs 24:12.

“Once our eyes are opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows that we know and holds us responsible to ACT…”

We are Spirit-Led: We plan, but are flexible and open to HIS leading. We are organizers. If you’re reading this closely, you probably are too. Our prayer is to boldly step where led, but not beyond.

We are Prayerful: Our top priority is prayer. Prayer for orphans, adoptions, foster families and orphan care projects. At meetings, families share their stories and then we circle up to pray for them. The sharing of prayer requests is top priority in all communication.

We Meet: While we once met monthly, we now meet every other month, which works best for our group of over-extended families. Meeting attendance is not our goal, so this removes pressure from the core group, and makes meeting months special. People sign-up on FB to bring snacks and drinks, and a volunteer offers child care for $5 per family. Our agenda includes family sharing, updates, and explanation of service projects, and is sometimes topical (foster care, the wait, etc.)

We Connect: We are intentional about relationships. Questions get answered, and new adoption families find inspiration from experienced adoption families, over potluck at our quarterly socials. On non-meeting months, mentoring happens around tables at women’s dinners.

Our desire is to walk alongside families navigating the hard adoption/foster journey. We want to show up with tissues and chocolate when obstacles arise, organize meal trains for newly home families, and stand at the airport and cheer as a child arrives home. Sometimes meeting for coffee with families with questions about adoption can be the needed nudge toward one less orphan.

We Serve: We organize monthly “orphan serves”, as often as possible, family friendly, with a mix of local and global projects. We step forward boldly with what we feel led to do, and then trust for provision. These are planned around church mission teams, foster home/agency needs and traveling adoptive families.

Our past projects include Easter baskets for a foster home, medicine and PJ packed suitcase for Love Without Boundaries’ Heartbridge Healing Home, meals for newly home adoptive families, Valentine bags and backpacks for foster kids, a Both Hands orphan/widow project, school supplies and toiletry bags for mission trips to a Haitian orphanage, decorated photos/cards for orphans in Ghana, formula drive for Brighton Their World, races for orphans, kid made bracelets for mission teams, and a clothing drive for foster families.

Twice a year we create “Say Grace” bags, our prayer based project. We compile 31 prayer requests, regarding family adoptions/fostering, orphan care ministries and general orphan related prayer requests. These are then cut into strips and bagged. Families are asked to pull out a request each night and include the need when they “say grace” before dinner.

say grace 2

We Communicate: We share information via monthly emailed updates and on our group’s Facebook page. Sign-Up Genius helps us coordinate donation drives.

We Offer Financial Support: If a family is hosting a fundraiser, we try to rally for them. We also encouraged our church to set up a Lifesong for Orphans matching grant.

We Open Our Doors: One of the big goals of our ministry is to host two seminars per year, focused on adoption and foster care. We simply invite agencies, provide some snacks and advertise. How amazing that open doors might unite families.

Why do these? They build families: “Years ago, my husband and I attended a seminar led by a Christian adoption agency.  We chose to attend, literally, at the last minute and walked through the doors of the church unsure if we should be there. Our hearts raw and hurting from years spent struggling with infertility. But oh, how thankful we are we took those steps into that church! God did an amazing and beautiful work in our hearts. Our view of adoption was completely changed during those 2 hours. We now have 3 children through adoption and are incredibly thankful for that day and God’s beautiful plan for our family.” ~ Angela

An answer of yes. That is all that is needed to begin an adoption ministry. The rest will come if you are open to it. We started in a living room, and are still a small group of people, connected by heartbeats for orphans. We are an adoption support and orphan care team, and have stood in awe of how God has done immeasurably more than we even knew to ask for. Be encouraged to act. There is work to be done, awareness to be raised, families who need community, and orphanages to empty out.

Please leave a comment or contact me if you have further questions, we’d love to support you.



Comments

  1. jane willis says:

    As I sat at my computer reading your post, I couldnt believe how God intertwines hearts to do his work. I, myself have adopted three children, one who is from China. I would love to chat with you about the burdens that God has placed on my heart concerning orphans and adoption. you can email me at janewillis81@yahoo.com. I would love to start an orphan ministry in my church.

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