Listen, people. Especially you christians. Just because it's foster/adoption awareness month DOES NOT MEAN you are called to adopt. It may absolutely not be right for you. Do not take all the articles and memes of sweet faces and bible verses to mean you're supposed to sign right up.
Are some of you supposed to? Yes. And if so, stop avoiding it and at least go to an informational meeting. But this post is not for you. This post is for those who are NOT supposed to adopt or foster.
Here's the thing: even if you're not supposed to be on the front lines, meeting the needs by opening your heart and home, you're still called to orphan care. You're not off the hook just because you don't have a home study. Orphan care is also not reserved for a short term missions trip once a year to an orphanage.
Want some ideas? First think of your giftings. What are your skills? Your resources? Those will be the most effective. I wish I could create an app where you plugged in all your resources and hit "go" and your phone sent you notifications when your skills or resources could be used locally. You'd be shocked how simple it is to help in tremendous ways. Some examples (most of these are practical ideas for people you know. I didn't get into the preventive stuff very much or international orphan care, FYI):
*Are you a photographer? Offer your skills and time to a local agency to see if they need updated pics of children. Offer minisessions to families bringing home new kiddos or to photograph their airport moment.
*Party or event planner? Offer to help an adoptive family with a fundraiser. Those are often outside their skill set and don't make as much money as they could.
*Own a shop or restaurant? Offer to run a fundraiser of your goods/services benefitting someone's adoption.
*Counselor or therapist? Offer your services to agencies who work with questioning birth moms, or children who've experienced trauma (obvs only if you're trained to do so...)
*Are you a handyman? Offer your services to foster homes.
*PT or chiropractor? Offer free adjustments to parents with new placements, carrying around new weight all the time.
*Love shopping? Offer to go shopping for a family with a new placement. For food, for clothes, for furniture, for toilet paper, whatever.
*Have a lawnmower? Offer to cut grass of families from your neighborhood or church who get new placements. Lawn care is the least of their problems when transitioning a new kid in. Or rake their leaves. or weed their garden.
*Mad cooking skills? Make meals for families with new placements. Not a cook? Buy gift cards to take-out places and give those instead.
*Have clothes or babygear your kids have grown out of? Donate to agencies or families adopting or our basement.
*Have lots of space in your basement? Build some shelves and start your own clothing resource. (This thing has taken off! We've given bags of clothes to almost 40 kids since February!)
*Know a family with a new kiddo that already had kids? Offer to take their other kids out for a night of fun. Sometimes the original crew needs a break. (When we had our foster placement, we were so overwhelmed we could barely think straight. My boss took Eliot to Target and out for dinner one night to give him a break. I still get weepy thinking about it, it meant so much to us.)
*Know how to buy gift cards? Families often spend ions of money with each new placement. Some children arrive with absolutely nothing. No one knows how to get the most out of a Target gift card like a foster mom...
*Know where the grocery store is? Offer to shop for the fam or just go buy regular stuff (fruit, snacks, ice cream, papertowels,etc.) and drop it off.
*Have experience with children with special needs? Offer whatever you can to a new mom! My friend Emily offered us a weighted blanket to try with one of our placements.
*Love throwing a party? Offer to host an adoption shower to a family with a new adoptive placement (especially an older child placement)
*Have some extra money? Sponsor a family who's adopting, donate to your church's Abba Fund or adoption fund, give to projects like Village of Hope. Give a family money to pay a sitter for a night out.
*Know a family in process or already have the placement? Offer to babysit. I'm betting they need a night out. If they're not comfortable leaving new kiddos, arrange separate nights out. A girls night for mom (wine bar? chick flick?) and a guys night for dad (sports bar? shooting range?)
*Get certified (super easy process) for respite care and then offer a weekend off to families you know with foster placements.
*Become a CASA volunteer.
*Offer a big brother/big sister type mentoring to a local foster agency for a waiting child.
*Have experience with adoption in the past? Offer to mentor a family starting the process.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list but hopefully it got your brain rolling on something you can offer. If you have any questions, as always, please email. I'm happy to help you brainstorm. Something as small as offering to keep the kids alive so a new mom can take a shower for 15 minutes or dropping off her favorite Starbucks can be just the break they need. Feel free to offer other ideas in the comments section!
Adoption and foster care can be lonely places, for everyone involved. Any way to alleviate the burden and elevate the joy is going to go miles for a family.