3. Pray for orphans and their caregivers.
As you know if you’ve read anything I’ve written, I think prayer is the first and most helpful thing anyone can do about anything at any moment. So, if you want to love orphans, pray for them and for their caregivers. As you pray keep a pen and paper nearby in case God gives you a to-do list.
To help put faces to the mission, check out adoptuskids.org or other websites with photo listings of kids waiting for parents, and pray specifically for these kids by name. I had no idea this was possible, and when I clicked over tonight… You guys. I couldn’t. I saw one kid, started crying in the coffee shop and had to close the page. Looking at these kids breaks my heart. But in a good way. It’s the kind of heartbreak that challenges and inspires.
Leann said, “Pray that God will rise up His people to open their hearts and homes. Even if that’s not you. Pray that someone will. It’s ok to do that. Grab the couple at your church that is on the front line of this battle and pray for them and with them. Pray for their baby or their toddler or their teenager that’s on the other side of the world waiting for travel approval. That’s a LONG and PAINFUL wait.”
4. Treat adopted or foster children with understanding, care and respect.
First, adopted kids and foster kids are often emotionally and socially immature and/or psychologically or developmentally delayed due to past experience, neglect, etc. Even when they’re not, at the beginning of their transition to a new family they’re experiencing A LOT of stress. Lauren said,
“When people understand that adoption is coupled with trauma and grief, they can be much more patient when a child has a meltdown, is emotionally behind his or her peers, or needs special accommodations in social settings.”
Being patient and generous with our friends’ kids is a much-appreciated gift.
Lauren also mentioned the sometimes overwhelming attention her daughter Hope gets at church. Because Hope is a sort of celebrity to these people who’ve all participated in her adoption and followed her parents’ journey, they feel like they know her. Hope though doesn’t know them at all. Too many strangers expecting hugs and smiles, saying your name like you should know theirs–that’s my own personal version of torment.
Let’s also be thoughtful about the way we talk to adopted kids about their families and the way we talk to our kids about their friends who’re adopted. Remember:
• An adopted child’s parent is his or her parent–no need to verbally distinguish between biological or adopted. Similarly all the children are a parents’ children–no need to distinguish between biological and adopted.
• For your kids, there’s no reason to make a big deal out of a friend’s being adopted. Dwelling on difference divides. You might, however, dispel some of the myths kids believe about adoption, primarily that (1) all kids live in orphanages like the one in Peter Pan before they get adopted and (2) all orphans are abandoned by parents who either died or don’t love them.
That’s the list. For sure there are a hundred more ways you could get involved in actively and passionately loving orphans, but this is a good start. If you have thoughts to add PLEASE do so by leaving a comment below.
Thanks to Lauren, Katie Beth and Leann for their wisdom and their example. Go forth and love well, friends.