From the time we were married, we thought adoption might be something we would want to do. We thought the idea of bringing into our home a child who otherwise would grow up without parents just made a lot of sense, and would honor God. After we had had two biological daughters, we realized we needed to decide whether we were really serious about that. After some careful prayer and thought, we decided that absolutely we were. Rather than bring another child into the world biologically, we could welcome in a child who would otherwise grow up without a family.
What might a church do to help people through the process of reflection preceding an adoption?
Many churches across the country are starting orphan care, adoption, and foster-care-oriented ministries. These ministries both awaken people to the great need all around them, and also support them as they open their homes to an orphan. It can begin with financial support for adoption and continue through very practical help, like babysitting and house-cleaning for the parents, to professional services by Church members, such as doctors or psychologists for special needs that adopted children might have. Many churches start with a focus on adoption, and are now growing that to include both foster-care locally and orphan-care globally, because they desire to serve the large portion of the world's orphans that will never be reached by adoption.
Why is such a small portion of the world's orphans reachable through adoption?
One of the biggest reasons is that there are many government bottlenecks to international adoption. In addition, the simple truth is that the situations many orphans face are so complex that, for a host of reasons, adoption may not be possible. Perhaps their mother is very sick but still alive, or there is no way to document if they truly have no family. Also, as children get to be 3, 4, or 5 years old, fewer and fewer people are willing to adopt them. On the one hand, adoption is a beautiful thing that utterly transforms the life of the child and the family that receives them in. On the other hand, adoption will only touch the smallest fraction of the world's orphans. And so, I believe, Christian love needs to include both a vision for adoption as well as a host of other responses to the plight of orphans worldwide.
Tell us something about your organization, the Christian Alliance for Orphans.
The Christian Alliance for Orphans is a coalition of Christian organizations at work on behalf of orphans. It encompasses the full spectrum of Christian responses to orphan needs: including adoption, foster-youth ministry, global orphan-care, and advocacy. The alliance serves as the hub for shared initiatives and joint efforts that can achieve far more than any one organization working on its own. The Alliance itself includes some broadly recognized names such as Show Hope, Family Life's Hope for Orphans, Focus on the Family, and Bethany Christian Services. But just as important, it also includes a host of small and mid-sized organizations that are effectively transforming the lives of orphans in a host of different ways.
Together, these organizations represent the full continuum of responses to the needs of orphans in the name of Christ. The Alliance itself is a nimble, coordinating force that helps all of these organizations speak with one voice. We desire to stir the Church to recognize the needs of orphans and to respond in Christ-honoring ways. As people step forward to respond, we're committed to connecting them to trustworthy Christian organizations for partnership in service.
So is the Christian Alliance for Orphans website a good starting place for a person who wishes to learn more about adoption, foster care, and orphan-related ministries?
Yes. We're hoping to have a Version 2.0 web presence in early 2010, but already it's a tremendous hub for those committed to the cause of the orphan.
What are other ways people can respond to the needs of orphans?
There are as many ways to respond to the needs of orphans as there are unique individuals and callings. That ranges from mentoring a foster-youth for a few hours a month to sponsoring a child overseas, both financially and through letters and prayer. There are many great Christian organizations that enable 1-to-1 child sponsorship. Another option would be supporting families that are fostering or adopting, whether financially or through running little errands. The opportunities run from simple engagements like these, to starting an orphan-oriented ministry within your church.