Thursday, April 19, 2012

Orphan/adoption ministry proposal

If you are familiar with me at all you recognize that I believe that the care of orphans is the responsibility of the church.  I think sometimes it seems so big that it is easier to ignore than to figure out where to start.  
Below is the proposal I presented to my church.  Feel free to edit for your area and use it.  
Please let me know any ideas you have to add to it.

Orphan Care/Adoption Ministry Ideas

Orphan Care:

Foster Care
Encourage and Support church members to become foster families, host seminars and educational classes.
There are over 500,000 children in Foster Care in America who need permanent placement, and many thousands more who need to be in temporary placement.  

Safe Families:
Melissa Dykema  Safe Families Coordinator 708-770-7415
Safe Families for Children is a movement of hundreds of families of faith who have opened their homes to care for children whose parents are struggling. By demonstrating Biblical Hospitality, Safe Families for Children returns the church to the forefront of caring for orphans and widows - where historically the church was the leader. 

Safe Families for Children is only successful when it is embraced and adopted by the local church. Churches of all sizes are necessary to provide for vulnerable children within our communities. Following are a few of the opportunities churches have embraced when adding Safe Families for Children to one of their existing ministries or adding a entire new ministry at their church.

Orphanage support
Every orphanage I have ever been in is underfunded, understaffed, and undersupplied.  In conjunction with traveling adoptive families, collections of necessary items like clothing, medications, diapers, etc., can be donated and transported to orphanages around the world. 
I have established relationships with a number of orphanages in Ukraine as well as in Ethiopia if the Church wished to become a regular supporter of an orphanage.  Mission trips could be arranged to bring supplies and perform repairs.

Foster Family support:
Many children who need families cannot be legally adopted and are warehoused in orphanages.  Christian families in other countries are willing to foster children and love them and give them family, but are financially exhausted.  Through a relationship with Eastern European Outreach/Mercy Projects, families here in America can partner with families in Ukraine by becoming monthly supporters.  Letters and gifts can be shared between families and trips to visit can be facilitated.  I have profiles of families and some orphanages that need sponsorship.
Mission trips to work with orphans and/or perform needed repairs can be arranged through Eastern European Outreach to Ukraine, to Nigeria through missionary friends there, and through Project HOPEFUL in Ethiopia.

Practical and Emotional support:
Form and facilitate support groups for adoptive families, connecting adoption mentors with new adoptive parents.

Church support volunteers could provide the following services as needed

  • Lawn care while family is traveling to bring child home.
  • Baby siting while family travels (trips can be as short as a week and as long as months)
  • Meals when the family comes home
  • Respite babysitting to help new parents deal with the transition.  It can be very difficult and parents need a break out together
  • Supplies to equip new children: clothes, bedding, furniture, diapers, toys, and bikes.  These items do not need to be new.  I don’t know any adoptive family who minds hand-me-downs.

Financial support
  • Voluntary monetary donations from congregants who feel led to help
  • Fundraisers are helpful, like a church rummage sale where proceeds from donated items are donated to a family in the midst of paying for an adoption.
  • Consider an adoption fund that families can apply for.
  • Life Song has an awesome program called BOTH HANDS.  It is a way to help widows and orphans simultaneously.  A group of capable volunteers from church seek sponsorship and donations to perform a daylong improvement project for a local widow.  Many times local home improvement stores and construction businesses will donate something toward the project.  All the sponsorship funds are given to cover adoption expenses, and the needs of a widow are met!  It is fantastic.

**Side note: This is going to hit on a point above and beyond adoption.   I have collected this information from many adoptive moms who have shared this with me and I am including an idea to meet this need.

Many adoptive families are called to adopt the child with special needs.  Did you know that most families who have children with special needs do not attend church?  This is not because they don’t want to go, it’s just that most churches do not have any accommodations to meet even basic special needs.  As an example, many volunteer Sunday school teachers do not feel equipped to be responsible for a child with, for example Downs Syndrome or autism, and the child is not welcome in class.  The parents cannot attend services because their children can be disruptive in service (many angry glances and occasional rude comments about disruptive children) and aren’t welcome in the nursery because while they may behave at a very young level, they are much older.  This leaves a family with no choice but to stay home.  
I would propose that we partner high school helpers with a special needs child to accompany him/her to class.  The benefits would be twofold.  The child’s needs are met, and our teens would grow spiritually by helping someone else as well as gain valuable experience at the same time.

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