Thursday, March 3, 2011

Make a Difference: Six More Things You Can Do

Mrs. Beaver:

Mr. Beaver with Jaynie (left) and Cassandra in September 2001 on the eve before
we began our journey to their new home in America.

Our friends who have just returned from their court trip in Ethiopia, emailed these words while in Africa, "Adoption is hard." They're right. What we know, having adopted four times, is that over time as the family melds into one unit, adoption just gets better and better--downright joy-filled. This doesn't change the fact that it is HARD at the beginning. Isn't sacrificial love hard by definition?

Those who aren't in the midst of an adoption can do so much to ease the burden and contribute to the long-term success of the adoption. Here are some more ideas to help adoptive families. (See Make a Difference, Part 1)

1) If you have been invited by an adoptive family to be at the airport when they arrive home with their new child or children, GO! For an adoptive family this is the climax to an emotionally draining and spiritually trying roller-coaster ride. The emotional impact of being greeted by a crowd of supporters is akin to the sense of support a newly married couple experiences when the people they love attend their wedding and reception. Landing at the airport marks the end of the adoption and the beginning of life as an adoptive family. Take your camera and a box of tissues!
2) When the new child joins the family through adoption, send a card just like you would for the birth of a baby. For some reason, our culture treats giving birth to a child and adopting a child or children differently. Adoptive families yearn for others to rejoice with them as they rejoice. God has done an unbelievably big work in their midst! Let them know you're celebrating with them by sending a congratulations card!

3) Just like families who've given birth to a new child, adoptive families will be blessed  if you'll bring a meal or even multiple meals to them. Whether a family is adding one child or a trio, their routine will be interrupted for quite some time as they adjust to the change. In addition, the family will probably be experiencing profound tiredness, both from jet lag and also the outlay of energy it takes to cope with the big change to the family. A church family could provide meals for a month, and it wouldn't be too much. When we adopted Tatiana, Natasha and Princess Bink, some friends from our church loved us sacrificially by bringing a meal to us every Monday night for weeks until we told them we were back on our feet again. None of us will ever forget this act of kindness!

4) As a new adoptive family settles back into home, offer to run errands for them. It is often difficult to leave the house at first. We were blessed during our most recent adoption when a dear friend offered to pick up some groceries for us. What relief it was to get milk and fresh produce in the house again!

5) As a new adoptive family settles in, pray for them. Pray, PRAY, P.R.A.Y for them and then pray some more. In more ways than you can imagine, they will be stretched. The children they were already parenting are likely to struggle with the change no matter how much they supported their parents' decision to adopt. The new child or children have a new culture to adapt to and a new family to adapt to. The adoptee will be without friends initially. They may well be learning a new language. Everyone in the family will be more tired than usual. Pray for them.

6) Even if you see the adoptive family at church or in town looking like they have it all together, continue to pray. What you see on the surface may not represent the struggles going on at home. Don't be afraid to ask how you can best pray that week, the needs are likely to be ever-changing. Honestly, their need for prayer will continue for years. What a difference you can make by being part of a team of people dedicated to crying out to God on their behalf long-term.

Well, my second list of five more suggestions morphed into six. Honestly, I could just keep going and going, but I hope these ideas stir up creativity on your part to participate in orphan care through supporting adoptive families. Your active love has more power to bolster and encourage than you might ever suspect.


Kaye Ann Silver said...

So true! When my family adopted from foster care, we were blessed with a beautiful little boy. However, he 'looked' perfect. Cute, blonde, blue eyed and outside issues. People would smile and say, "Wow. They really have it all together and it's going perfect." That was so far from the truth! We slowly discovered some sad and hard memories in his little head, and needed prayer desperately. Thankfully, our friends and family all stepped up, gave food :) and prayer, which was such a huge blessing.

Joyful blessings abound!

Sophie said...

Thanks for that reminder! We have four foster care/adoptive families in our's helpful to see adoption from this perspective! what a wonderful ministry!

MacMeister said...

Thanks for all of these good suggestions!