Orphan Care is an Everyone Problem and an Everyone Solution
Defining the Problem
To hear that there are 400,000 children in the United States foster care system feels overwhelming. That is, until you realize that there are 350,000 churches in the United States! If every church had one foster family, we could almost entirely empty out the system today! Sounds easy, right? With the Church as the solution, the orphan crisis is problem solvable. This is true! But with a high burnout rate among foster families, the problem extends deeper. Studies show that 50% of foster families who become licensed today will quit after a year, and another 50% will quit the next year!
These statistics are staggeringly high. The number one reason these families are quitting is a lack of support. They can’t do it alone! This is why churches are starting a foster care ministry, an adoption ministry, or an orphan care ministry. With the Church as the solution, the orphan crisis is problem solvable…if everyone owns the problem and everyone–every demographic and church–becomes part of the solution!
Not everyone can foster or adopt, but everyone can do something. We believe this wholeheartedly! Check out the grid below to see what we mean.
In order to understand this grid most accurately, we need to define some terms. Starting at the top left, let’s look at preservation, foster care, adoption, and aging out.
- Preservation involves serving biological families to help families stay together or be reunified after removal.
- Foster care refers to families who temporarily care for kids who have been removed from their biological family because of abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
- Adoption is a permanent placement for kids who cannot be reunited with their biological family.
- Aging out refers to youth in the foster care system generally between 18 – 21 years of age who will age out of the foster care system without a permanent home.
You’ll notice that each of these categories, from preservation to aging out, reflects varying levels of involvement. As we said, we believe everyone can do something in orphan care. No matter your age, race, background, location, or income, you can do something. You can be a part of the solution!
To find out ways you can do something to help foster kids and orphans, check out our free downloadable resources with ideas on how to help.
Level 1 Care For Orphans – Concrete Services
As you can see from the grid, a big theme of caring for orphans in Level 1 is bringing awareness! Simply speaking up can make a profound difference in the life of a child who needs family. Many people are unaware of the orphan crisis in our own backyard, and that’s why advocacy is so important! Proverbs 31:8-9 urges us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
But it doesn’t stop there! Level 1 also includes concrete services: providing for physical needs through practical items. The Bible addresses this concept in Matthew 10:42, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Small actions are rewarded and small actions can even change someone’s life! So, don’t underestimate your contributions at Level 1! You’ll never know the full benefit of sharing a hot meal with an overworked foster family or a couch with an aging-out youth. Providing for physical needs can plant spiritual seeds. Simply look in your hands and ask, “what do I have to give?”
Level 2 Care For Orphans – Support Services
Level 2 takes a step closer to the families and individuals in need by offering foster care support and relational services. Providing for physical needs through concrete items is important, as we just discussed, but sometimes situations require presence more than “presents.” This support can look like babysitting for foster families to have a night off, teaching life skills to youth who have aged out, or offering mentoring to a biological parent who requests a little guidance.
We see this support model in Exodus 17 when Israel was battling the Amalekites. In order for Israel to win, Moses had to hold his staff in the air. But he couldn’t do it alone. When he became tired, Aaron and Hur brought him a stone to sit on and held his hands up until the battle was won!
Just like Israel, kids in foster care are fighting for their lives and well-being (emotional, relational, mental, and spiritual). And just like Moses, foster parents are called to hold their arms in the air on behalf of those kids. But they can’t do it alone. They need the support of an Aaron and Hur to find victory! When we come alongside families, we get to be that for them, and we become an integral part of their success.
If you would like to talk with us about starting support services for foster and adoptive families in your own church, click the button below to chat.
Level 3 Care For Orphans
Some are called to give (Level 1), some are called to support (Level 2), and others are called to open their hearts and home (Level 3). Welcome home. That’s the theme of Level 3. Like we’ve said, not everyone is called to foster or adopt, but many are! It’s a unique opportunity to engage in transformational discipleship, a 24/7 living room discipleship inside the home. It demands a person to sacrifice comfort and step into someone else’s chaos. It’s not easy, but it’s God’s plan. God has not called us to comfort but to combat. Psalm 68:5-6 says that God sets the lonely in families. Is God calling you to open your home for a child in need?
While we don’t license individual families to become foster and adoptive parents, we work with some amazing partners who do. If you want to journey down the path of foster care or adoption, you can start by checking out who we work with to become a foster parent or an adoptive parent.
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