Wrapping Around Adoptive Families: How to Provide Support to Those Called to Adopt
What if you haven’t been called to adopt a waiting child, but you still want to help orphans and play a role in the adoption process?
We have good news for you. If you can pray, listen, cook, clean, drive, shop or baby sit, you can play a key role in helping former orphans and their adoptive families.
For Christians, adoption is much more than simply providing a home for a waiting child. The Bible tells us that even before the creation of the world, God predestined us to be adopted as His sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:5). The spirit of adoption permeates Scripture, and God’s heart for the orphan pours forth from His Word, where He commands His followers to care for these precious children (James 1:27).
Adoption has been described by Pastor John Piper as the visible gospel. It is proclaimed to a watching world that desperately needs to know the love of the Heavenly Father.
There are many different ways to minister to God’s orphan children and to the adoptive families who have welcomed them home.
LIFE’S HARSH REALITY FOR MANY CHILDREN AND THEIR ADOPTIVE FAMILIES
Tragically, many of the world’s children are born into families unable or unwilling to provide the secure and stable home they need to grow and develop as healthy children. Many of these children have experienced some form of early trauma from abuse or neglect. Whether they lived in U.S. foster homes or an orphanage overseas, previously neglected or abused children who fail to receive all God intends for them may develop special needs or difficult behaviors.
For these children and the families who choose to adopt them, the road to healthy family living may be a rocky one, and it may take longer than they had hoped. Yet, in spite of the challenges, many families are making lifelong commitments to children who need opportunities to heal.
And, due to these challenges, many adoptive families desperately need support from their church families. As is often the case in other areas of life, however, asking for help can be difficult to do.
WHAT’S MY ROLE?
Struggling adoptive families need their church families to wrap-around and support them during times of trials. When churches do this, they mirror our Heavenly Father who wraps His arms around us during times of joy as well as times of trial. The goal is to provide practical guidance for churches seeking effective ways to support adoptive families.
Before trying to provide support or help to a family in need, it is vitally important for pastors and church members to understand that children who experienced previous trauma may have a difficult time adjusting to their new adoptive family—no matter how committed and loving the family may be. Understanding this is vital for effective ministry.
Healing doesn’t usually happen overnight, and adoptive families need their church families to walk with them through their struggles. Churches can no longer think that typical parental expressions of love alone will “cure” the child. For many of these children, their souls are scarred and their hearts are hurt. As a result, time, understanding, and unconditional commitment are essential to the child’s healing process.
It’s also wise to remember that the last thing adoptive parents need is simplistic answers from people who understand nothing of their unique calling and situation. These parents do not need admonitions that they are either “too hard” on little cutie pie or “not firm enough” with that strong-willed child. This approach will alienate and cause pain to the already struggling family.
HOW DO WE WRAP AROUND OUR ADOPTIVE FAMILIES?
Families struggling in these situations need compassionate, non-judgmental brothers and sisters in Christ to walk beside them to help bear their burdens.
Adoptive families need others to WRAP around them with prayer and practical help. Here’s an easy way to remember their needs:
W – Wrestle in Prayer
R – Respite Care
A – Acts of Service
P – Promises of God
When churches wrap around adoptive families during their times of need, it is a beautiful picture of the body of Christ as God designed – His bride walking in unity for the cause of His orphan children.
To learn more about the practical aspects of how to WRAP around adoptive families, come to the breakout session at Life and Justice, where you’ll receive a complimentary WRAP kit to help you start a WRAP ministry in your church.
(Title adapted from the Focus on the Family resource by the same title)
By Kelly M. Rosati,
Senior Director, Sanctity of Human Life
Focus on the Family