Mr & Mrs. Beaver:
Having now adopted three trios of older children we can say from experience that those of us who adopt need the support of a loving community that is willing to come alongside us to help. We've all heard those stories on the news of adoptions, especially of older children gone wrong--sometimes terribly wrong. It doesn't have to be that way. It just may be that some small act on your part may be the difference between an adoptive family thriving or withering.
Here are five suggestions for things you can do. You certainly don't have to do them all. Any of these gestures will be experienced by the adoptive family as the fervent love 1 Peter 1:18 describes.
1) If you hear of a family that is considering adopting, ask God to grant them wisdom. Pray that they will be protected from the fear that so often paralyzes couples who entertain thoughts of adding another child through adoption. Pray that the Lord will increase their faith. Pray that He will help them to trust His plan for their lives.
2) If you know a family in the midst of an adoption, pray for them. Ask them regularly how you can best pray specifically at that point. As their adoption proceeds, their prayer needs will be continually shifting. Consider even organizing a prayer team that will stay active on their behalf long term.
3) Think before you make remarks about adoption to adoptive families. Those comments can prove to be hurtful or stir up fear. When we were in the process of adopting, Jaynie, Cassandra and Speedy, one of my friends who had been watching too many scary episodes of the Oprah Show, leaned close to me and whispered, "Are you going to put the knives away?" Ouch!
And no adoptive family needs to hear about the story of so-and-so whose adoptive child is a terror and whose family has lost hope. Adoptive families need your faith--not fuel for their fear. Adoption almost always turns out beautifully! God's power and grace are enough. Reminders of His willingness to give grace, encouragements about His ability to save and rescue are what adoptive families need to hear.
4) If a family is adopting internationally and they are nearing the date for their travel, they will most likely be required to take humanitarian aid with them. Ask what you can contribute. The adoption has probably already cost them thousands of dollars. Your help with the aid will probably be a financial help to them, as well as an emotional encouragement.
5) If a family is adopting and has a blog, follow their blog. They will be encouraged that someone is "listening" as they share their hearts about their new child or children. They will be grateful that you are taking time to follow what's so dear to them. They'll appreciate you putting in the effort to learn about the circumstances of the fatherless children in the country where their "baby" lives and, probably, suffers. You can rejoice when they rejoice and weep when they weep. You can post a "comment," providing a real sense of community for the adoptive family. It's easy to feel very alone when you're adopting.
Repeatedly, God's word commands His people to see to the care of orphans. If your circumstances don't allow you to adopt right now, you can still do so much that will contribute to the long-term success of an adoption. The orphan will be blessed. The adoptive family will be blessed. and, my guess is, that you'll probably be blessed as well. Treat these ideas as nothing more than a spring board to your unique ways to help adoptive families.
If you have ideas, post them in our comments section for others to see.