Adoption and the Church (Part 2)

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This is part two of an article written by Brian & Callie Troyer. For part 1, see previous post.

4. Orphan care is a command, not just a calling. As a therapist working with Department of Child Services cases, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many foster families, relative placements, and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), and I can assure you they are very normal people. Not perfect, not saints, just people who look an awful lot like the ones inside your church. Becoming involved can feel intimidating, but some of the simplest needs are those most overlooked. Churches can work with local organizations to host informational meetings, trainings, or any number of other events to expose members to available opportunities. New foster families may simply need meals or help assembling cribs. Single mothers may need a place to safely share community each Sunday. Orphan care does not necessarily mean a lifetime commitment to a specific child, nor is it reserved for “saints.” We are all commanded to care for orphans, and every single person in the Church has something to offer.

5. Adoption is expensive, churches can help. One of the greatest barriers to adoption is cost. It’s unfortunate, but true. Many families interested in adoption balk at the investment it takes, and some back out altogether due to financial concerns. The cost of international adoption varies widely from country to country, and domestic adoptions can be cost-prohibitive as well.  Our adoption process will end around $45,000 when all is said and done. Cost is the number one barrier for prospective adoptive families, and, as such, international adoptions by Americans have dropped to just 5,000 children per year, the lowest it has been in decades. Churches often support multiple missionaries at a time and should view adoptive and foster families in a similar light. Financial support is a direct, effective way to promote adoption and foster care, and to help specific families pursue a direct calling. Hold a fundraiser, take a special offering, or carve out a tiny piece of the annual budget. Help the church family support those on the front lines of orphan care like they do those on the front lines of the mission field.

6. Words are powerful. The Church sometimes has a tendency to glorify adoption, to paint a warm, fuzzy image of Christ’s redemptive love for the Church set in the context of God adopting us as His own, and to stop there. Truly, adoption does manifest this redemptive love in a powerful way, and we truly hope our son grows up to understand that He was also adopted into the family of God! But we would say this to the Church—be careful with your words. It feels easy to connect over how terrible birth mom must have been to “give up” her child, but that’s just not true for many adoptive families. Church leaders have the opportunity to set the terminology used surrounding orphan care and should do so carefully.

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Brian Troyer is a marriage and family therapist working primarily with Department of Child Services and Juvenile Probation clients. Troyer and his wife Callie live outside of Louisville, KY, and are currently on the adoption journey. You can follow their journey at forgideon.com

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