by Katie Cruice Smith
November is National Adoption Month, a time to draw attention to the almost 160 million orphans around the world and the over half a million children currently in the foster care system in the United States. But unfortunately, so many turn a deaf ear to the needs of the fatherless.
When my husband and I first felt called to adoption, we were not yet married but already talking about our future family. At our church, we had the opportunity to love on some of the poorest children from our community—many who did not want to return to their current home situation. I believe it was at that point that God really opened our eyes to the needs of the these children.
It was five years before we walked in faith through the doors of adoption, and we have never looked back. We have three beloved adopted children, and we had the additional blessings of fostering ten other darlings—some of whom we have kept up with and others who have disappeared from our sights but never from our hearts. I miss them terribly, even five years after they have left our home.
Since I became an adoption and foster care advocate, I have seen so many people who appear concerned for these children but who are doing nothing to offer solutions. Instead of helping, we hear, “I could never foster. I’d get too attached.” Or “Adoption costs too much. It’s like you’re buying children.” Or “Those poor birth parents who are having their children kidnapped from them.” The ignorance in these statements runs deep and hurts those of us on the frontlines who have to endure the attacks.
James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Yet many of these comments are coming from religious people. Not everyone can foster or adopt, but everyone can—and must—be involved in the care of orphans! So, here are some tips on how you can get involved.
- Adopt or foster. Obviously, this is the best way to help. You may not be able to help everyone, but you can help one. Check in with your local Children and Family Services to find out what the process would be to become a foster parent or find an adoption attorney to discuss the adoption process. If you are unsure if foster care is right for your family, you can start out as an emergency home or a respite home. If you are considering international adoption, you will want to work with an agency who handles the red tape between countries. Don’t let the cost of adoption stop you! Step out in faith and allow God to move those mountains! There are many adoption grants and interest-free loans available if you just do some research.
- Give. If you can’t foster or adopt, then consider donating to a local organization or foster/adopt family in your church. But please give new items and not used. These children have already been through enough without receiving someone’s old clothes or used toys. Let’s love on them as if they were our own children. If you can give financially, many organizations accept gift cards to give out to foster kids during the holidays; or you can help alleviate some of the financial burden for an adoptive family by donating to them.
- Volunteer. There are many opportunities in your community to plug into the lives of these children. Offer after-school tutoring services, babysitting, community events. Be a coach for an at-risk youth basketball team. Offer to work some hours at one of the children’s homes in your area. The more adults we have pouring into these children, the more loved and accepted they will feel and the less likely they will be to continue down a destructive path.
- Learn. Educate yourself on foster care and adoption. Read about the right words to use so as to not offend. Ask questions about the adoption triad and respect each member—the adopted child, the adoptive parents, and the biological family. Learn about the laws around adoption and seek to be an advocate instead of a naysayer.
If we believe that our children are our future, then we need to be investing in them now. Fostering and adoption are hard; but as adults, we can solve this crisis one child at a time, until every child knows how precious they are in God’s sight.
About the Author: Katie Cruice Smith is an adoptive mom to three and fostered ten other darlings. She is an orphan care advocate and the marketing assistant for an adoption attorney. Katie is a freelance writer and editor. She loves spending time with her family and friends at the beach or in the mountains, which she can easily do living in the Upstate of South Carolina.