BY FOCUS ON THE FAMILY – NOVEMBER 7, 2017
The sheer number of children waiting for a family of their own can seem overwhelming, but there are plenty of things you can do right now to make a difference for orphans.
God’s Word gives Christians a clear command to care for orphans (James 1:27), and there are many ways to get involved. Whatever path you decide to take, we hope you see the face of Christ in the children and families you serve.
- Foster. Nearly 430,000 children in the United States are in foster care today. There are immeasurable benefits when children are taken in by nurturing and loving caregivers. Ask God how He might use your family to bless a child in need of a safe place to live. Contact your local foster care agency to learn more.
- Adopt. Every child deserves to be raised by a loving family. More than 110,000 children throughout the United States are waiting for permanent adoptive families.* These children are currently in the custody of state agencies, which means that their only permanent parent is the state in which they live. The thought of being welcomed into a family seems like a dream for most of them, but taking into account that there are more than 300,000 churches in the United States, that dream doesn’t seem quite so far out of reach. Learn more.
- Provide Respite Care. Foster and adoptive parent need time away to rest, reduce stress or simply be restored. Whether it’s a few hours a week or one day a month, respite care offers these families an occasional and much-needed break from their responsibilities. There are formal and informal ways of providing respite care. You can ask a foster or adoptive family how you can best serve them, or use the National Foster Care and Adoption Directory to find local agencies that can connect you with information on how to become a respite care provider.
- Wrap Around a Family. Any family that welcomes home a new child needs the support of their friends, family and community. This is especially true of foster and adoptive families. If you can cook, clean, drive or baby-sit, you can be a huge help to these families.
- Be an Advocate. The role of a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) is to represent the best interests of a child in foster care. CASA volunteers are committed to spending time with that child and gathering information from everyone involved in that child’s life. CASAs are expected to provide additional information to the courts as they make decisions that will impact the child’s life. Get more information about volunteering from the National CASA Association.
- Engage Your Church. Orphan Sunday, typically the second Sunday of November, is about “rousing believer with God’s call to care for the orphan.” If you want to get involved, start by meeting with your pastor to talk about the importance of ministering to foster and adoptive families, or by asking the church to dedicate a weekend (such as Orphan Sunday) to raising awareness about the number of children in need of temporary and permanent families. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31:8, NIV).
- Pray. Your prayers have an impact. Gather with your small group or family to pray for the children, their birth families, caseworkers, the courts and a host of others who all affect the life of a child involved in the foster care system. For specifics on how to pray, Focus on the Family has created a Foster Care Prayer guide. (Select “Download our free Prayer Guide!”)
- Mentor. Investing your time, lending a listening ear and sharing your advice, gifts and talents with young adults preparing to age out of foster care will benefit them for a lifetime. Building relationships at any stage of life is difficult for many of them, but having a caring adult in their life can help make the difference in leading them down the path to a positive future.
- Tutor. Academics are often a challenge for children who typically change schools frequently. Your support in helping a child read, gain comprehension skills, understand math concepts or even simply complete homework assignments can help remove barriers to success at school.
- Consider the Bigger Picture. Orphan care is not simply a U.S. issue; it’s a worldwide concern. For example, there are an estimated 3.7 million orphans in South Africa alone. Focus on the Family Africa’s office is committed to first meeting children’s basic physical, emotional and spiritual needs, then equipping them with the life skills and faith they need to break the cycle of poverty and abandonment – even helping them navigate the challenges of life in child-headed homes. The objective is not to just help these kids survive, but to succeed. Lean more.