Saturday, July 5, 2014

Idiots Guide to: being a Church Family to an Adoptive Family

Now, with my battle armor off.... I can look around and see those still fighting and can say unequivocally, the Church needs to step up.    So often I am hearing, "during/after our adoption - we were so disappointed in our church".   

What we mean to say... what we need to say... is that we need our family.   And so often what I have been hearing is that their church families are letting them down.  Yes- there are some rock star churches out there being the hands and feet of Jesus.   But so often, I think the church is kind of in a place of wanting to help, but not understanding what to do, or how to do it.    And we need to get better.   Adoption doesn't look like a 9 month pregnancy, so what should the church be doing?    So... I'm not calling anyone an idiot, just saying that sometimes a little guidebook is necessary... 
Being a Church Family to an Adoptive Family

- The Church family should bless.
Imagine having a six year old plopped in your lap to care for.  What would you need?   A new wardrobe, shoes, pajamas, socks, underwear, child sized eating utensils, toys, books, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, a bed, a room, bedding.... the list can get pretty long.    And now imagine you just spent every single dollar you had on $1000s in flights to bring that kid into your home.    The crickets in your wallet are chirping and the Ramen Noodles are sounding pretty good.

Yes, we know.  'Well, you shouldn't bring a child into your home if you can't provide for it.'   And we will.   But the initial investment to set up a home for a new child is usually pretty remarkable.   Church families provide showers for new mothers to celebrate the birth of a new baby.   Should not the church family celebrate the status of an orphan-no-longer even more?   A battle over that little one was won my friends!   Everything in the world today is making adoption harder and harder.   Legal hoops, financial commitments, foreign governments.  

Celebrate that child who now has a family!!!    Go to the airport to hoop and holler, scare the beejebees out of that baby, but show them you are excited for them.    That moment is only one moment, but for that child to be able to look back years later and see the photos of the welcome signs, the balloons, the tears - they will know that they were wanted, and celebrated, and loved by a community who cared about them.   Show it.

- The Church family should feed.
Adopted children of any age are scared, unsure, and have special needs.   Imagine being taken out of your current surroundings- placed in a new room, a new bed, with new people all around you (who may speak another language).    Sleep will not come easily (for anyone in the house!).   The food is weird.    It plainly, is the making for emotional breakdowns, temper tantrums, and stress (and that's just the mom!!)   

When trying to bond with a new child, and make them feel comfortable in their surroundings, that doesn't allow for meal planning, trips to the grocery, and cooked meals.    Parents may instead be spending hours huddled on the floor hugging a thrashing and screaming 9 year old, trying to speak love over them.   But other kids still need to be fed... and the budget (remember those Ramen noodles?) also doesn't allow for frequent trips for fast food or home cooked restaurants.  

But, adopting parents are so confusing!!!  One minute we are telling you that our new child needs to bond so, 'Please, let us learn to be a family and leave us alone for a bit..'.   And on the other hand we are asking, 'Please, let us learn to be a family, but please Lord, please don't make me do this alone!'

Just as the church family comforts a grieving family with food at funeral time... they should also pitch in when a new child is introduced to a family.  That child, even newborns, are usually grieving.   Grieving for their lost friends, a favorite nanny, just the comfort of familiarity.   Even if the situation wasn't a positive one.  Those parents need to invest their valuable time in helping that child to heal.    No, we may not be able to invite you in for extended visits - but a gift card in the mail, a lovingly prepared meal delivered to the front steps, a meal tree organized.   Just those 5 minutes on the front porch chatting over a pan of lasagna can be the most valuable gift you could ever give in that moment. 

- The Church family should pray.
This one really needs no explanation.   Pray church.  Pray.  The enemy is not happy with a little one being rescued out of his grasp.   These children, no matter the age, are part of a battle waged.   They are unsure, they are hurting, and they are often fighting the love that the Father is wanting to lavish on them.   Many come from backgrounds where they were never loved or valued.   And our job, as their new parents, is to convince them that we do love them.  Our job sometime is to MAKE ourselves love a child who is desperately fighting that love, even when we don't feel it.   So pray.

And let us know you are praying.   A card in the mail.  A quick email.   Let us know that in our moments of desperation and thinking, 'Why, oh why, did I do this to myself?  To my other kids?'   Let us know then, that you are holding our arms up, praying for the Lord to heal our hearts and the hearts of our children.   We may not tell you we need help, but we do.   Very rarely does an adoptive placement happen easily and smoothly.    Even if parents are smiling and saying how happy they are to have their child home (and they are happy!), they are more often than not, having a hard time adjusting in their new roles as well.

-The Church family should give.
Now here is the sticky one.  Again back to the, 'You shouldn't get a kid if you can't afford it'.   Over and over, and over in scripture does it say to take care of the least fortunate.   To take care of the fatherless.   To feed the hungry.   To love the unloved.   And if God has called a family to adopt, HE has promised them that HE will provide.   And he could choose any fashion to do this.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills for goodness sake!   But as the Church family, it is your responsibility as family members to support your own.   I have heard of people getting offended when they receive support letters asking for help.    Really?  Seriously?   This is a HUGE undertaking and the decision to include you in this job is not an easy decision.   But get to it.   Show you are serious about loving the Man who came to adopt YOU, and help others show that love to a little one without a family.  

Does this mean selling your car and donating thousands of dollars?  Maybe.  But not likely.   It could mean $5.  It could mean $50.   God does this amazing trick where he multiplies little things like fish and $5 bills.  They miraculously become thousands.   Just give.  Show that you love.   Buy a silly trinket the family may be selling.   A cupcake or two from their stand.   Just show them you care.

These families are investing their hearts into loving a child they have never met.   Invest with them.   Feed them.  Pray for them.  Bless them.  And I promise--- there is a blessing you will receive for helping to bring a child home - every time you hear that child say 'I love you, Mommy'.   Or run to their new Daddy for a hug?  You can puff your chest out and say, "I helped build that."   Be the Church.  Be his hands and feet.   Just be the family He has called you to be.