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November is National Adoption Month

Happy November! Did you know that November is National Adoption Month? This coming Sunday is National Orphan Day. So what does that mean for you? Is it going to simply be another mark on the Hallmark Calendar, or can we actually DO something to make it more than just public awareness or a banner we stick up on our Facebook wall for a little bit? Can we step out from behind our computers and actually get involved in another person’s life, whether for a small contribution of time or to change the course of an entire lifespan? In comparison, $15mil was raised last year by those who actively participated in Movember by growing facial hair. I’m all for Men’s health. But I feel we can do better than that, because Adoption Advocacy literally represents the lives of MILLIONS of children who have no ability to care for themselves. Children who don’t have parents, or family, or love, or protection, or hope.

You may or may not be called to adoption at some point in your life, but ALL Christians are called to care for Orphans and Widows. Jesus repeatedly tells us that we care for “the least of the these” all throughout the Bible. Until our family started on the path of adoption, I had a general idea of some passages which are often waved as banners or being proclaimed only as mere pithy statements trying to raise awareness to a cause. Sure, Adoption can be reduced to just a cause. But it is THE CAUSE the entire Story that Scripture paints for us about God’s love and rescue mission (Gal 4:5; Rom 8:15) and we are called, as image bearers of God, rescued by God as adopted children into His Family, to care for orphans (James 1:27). Because in reality, orphan and widow care is weaved throughout the Bible … orphan and widow care IS God’s heart. Remember that every single one of us was a lost, fatherless child, and every single one of us struggles to better understand the grace, love and forgiveness that He shows each and every day. Praise God for His faithfulness and all-in commitment to serve the forgotten even when we, His people, do not serve the abandoned, the hurt children who have and are suffering in loss and pain. Praise Him that He is the only one who can be bringing healing and hope, and that he provides the new life and grace through Christ Jesus.

“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.” Psalm 82:3

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unsustained by the world.” James 1:27

“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:17

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40

How we ‘re called to do that looks different for everyone, as adoption is certainly not the only way. What matters is that kids deserve to grow up in a Family, right? I know you think it might not be your family, at least right now, but have you really, truly, honestly, asked God if He might be calling you to adopt? Did you know that 30% of Families say they would consider Adoption, but only 2% actually adopt? Let’s do something to change that. Here’s 5 different ways you can step up, make an impact, get involved in both word and deed, and really advocate for the fatherless this month:

1.) LEARN MORE ABOUT ADOPTION & CARING FOR ORPHANS AND WIDOWS IN YOUR COMMUNITY

Pick up a book & read it this month. I recommend Adopted for Life by Russell Moore (if you buy it, use our Amazon link to the right –>)
Or, head to your local library and pick up a book for free (HERE is a link of Adoption related books available through the King Country Library system)

Attend an info meeting or event to learn about Adoption and the organizations that are working to care for orphans. A few options:
- In Seattle, Mars Hill Downtown is hosting a FREE event on November 17th, Adoption, Foster Care and Respite Care Awareness Event
- Nationally, get plugged into the resources and events put on through Together for Adoption. “Together for Adoption exists to provide gospel-centered resources that magnify the adopting grace of God the Father in Christ Jesus and mobilize the church for global orphan care.”
- I am sure there are a lot more events coming up this month. Do you know of one? Share in the comments!

2.) PLEDGE TO ‘ADOPT’ A FAMILY FOR CHRISTMAS BY BECOMING A SECRET SANTA

Get matched with a Family in need through your local YMCA or start a program within your local church. Provide a backpack filled with essentials for a local homeless teen through Overlake Church’s Backpack program. Donate a warm winter coat to a Northwest foster child at Sleep Country.

3.) ADVOCATE TO EXTEND THE FEDRAL ADOPTION TAX CREDIT

The adoption tax credit allows adoptive families to claim eligible adoption-related expenses, meaning all out-of-pocket money spent on adoption expenses by the family is refundable. As it works currently, the family can claim up to a certain amount per year, which is being scaled down as the credit is being phased out. This tax credit has helped thousands of American families make adopting a possibility as it helps to offset the high cost of adoption. I would venture a very well supported estimation that since the credit was established in 1997, it has been responsible for the exponential increase in the number of families adopting in the past 15 years. There are, right now, Bills in both the House (HR 4373) and the Senate (S 3616) that would make this a PERMANENT adoption tax credit, that is INCLUSIVE (all types of adoption, whether foster, international, domestic), a MAXIMUM credit for special needs adoptions, and REFUNDABLE once the adoption is finalized. Unfortunately, if Congress does not act to extend the Federal Adoption Tax Credit (ATC) this year, the tax credit as we now know it will expire at the end of this year on December 31, 2012. Find info & action steps provided by the Dave Thomas Foundation. Also, you can ‘like’ the Facebook page Save the Adoption Tax Credit and find more info on contacting your State Representatives there.

4.) MAKE A DECISION TO HOST AN ORPHAN NEXT SUMMER (or CHRISTMAS 2013)

There are several programs working to bring Orphans into a family for hosting for 4-5 weeks. It is a beautiful opportunity to love on a child for a little while who has never known or can’t remember what a normal, loving family environment is like. Project 143 is the hosting program we were working with, but there is also New Horizons or Welcoming Angels. If you can’t host, consider either sponsoring a family who wants to host but can’t afford it, or sponsor a plane ticket for a child to come for hosting. These kids are typically older children (7+) who’s likelihood of being adopted dwindles with each passing year. If you want to stay more local and serve kids needing temporary places to stay as their families have been hitting a rough patch, consider becoming a Host Family for Safe Familes, or a Safe Church to help families in crisis. Locally, Olive Crest is working with Pacific Northwest families and churches to become Safe Families to help and support kids at risk.

5.) SUPPORT & COMMIT TO PRAY FOR A FAMILY YOU KNOW WHO IS ADOPTING

 It can feel lonely, this journey we are on. Yet, we have felt more support, care and tangible help in this endeavor than we could have imagined. Continually, I am overwhelmed with the encouragement and joy you all have responded with. I am humbled. There is no way we could be going about this alone. Support is (and will continue to be) INSTRUMENTAL for us. We appreciate your prayers, your kind words, your offers of help, your financial contributions. That is the tough one for me, asking for funds. With only a few exceptions, Adoption. Is. Really. Expensive. But in reality no one is getting rich off this deal. Adoption would not be possible for us in this short a time-frame if God were not opening doors and providing through our friends. My heart is  for MORE families to be supported like this as we are. Not everyone can adopt, but everyone can help a family who is adopting.

I know we are not the only ones. The more it gets out there, the more I am getting approached with amazing stories of what God is doing in the realm of adoption in our local church and beyond. I knew of one other family who had recently adopted. We didn’t really know anyone else in our church who had adopted, or who was adopting, or who wanted to adopt. Suddenly, every conversation I have is about people being touched by adoption. The girl who just started volunteering in Children’s Ministry who was adopted at 16 and her whole life changed. The young couple who has decided to adopt a son from Russia. The gal I had known only online, then we meet up in a park while she’s visiting Seattle and come to find she has FOUR adopted younger siblings. It’s crazy. It’s so obvious that adoption isn’t just one family and one child– it’s a wave of grace impacting a whole community. Why else would there be 3 families I know adopting from the same country we are right now? God is doing something big here in Seattle, in our church, for the cause of Adoption. He is changing hearts in the process. I think our church is very young in this area, we have a lot of growth to do in caring for those in need and supporting those few who are already doing it. I’d really love to see our church has become more intentional about supporting adoptive families and initiating a movement to work together to support the many different aspects of the adoptive, foster, and orphan care efforts in our community. We shouldn’t be the only ones on this path right now. So here’s a warning: I really feel that God is about to do something big through our journey. Yes, the goal is to bring Ana Home. But beyond us, I can see more people being touched by our story and getting involved, even in small ways. Adoption is contagious. There are other families about to be called to this, I know it. And as as people within the church see and support adoptive families, hearts open. Even more families will consider adoption.

Above all, keep praying. 

Pray for God to make his will and heart for orphans known to those he would call to advocate, care for, and support families touched by adoption, and most importantly draw them closer to Him trough the process. Pray that we all can rest in His timing and His provision, and that His heart and Sprit will fill homes with joy, thanksgiving, and guide the many decisions they make each step taken toward building family.

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