Guest Column

Love Them Both: 7 ways to support families investigating the adoption or foster care process

Foster care, adoption

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

You may have recently learned that your friends or family members are considering adopting or fostering a child, and looking further into the process and all that’s involved. If so, this is great news! You may be wondering how you can support them in their journey. After all, adoption and fostering are amazing, but they can also be a lot of work, as well as emotionally challenging — and sometimes even financially straining. There are many ways my friends and family have supported our family’s efforts to adopt 14 children, and you can do the same for other families considering taking the steps necessary to become adoptive or foster parents:

1. Congratulate them!

They are taking a HUGE step to help a birth momma in crisis or to become a family to an orphan or foster child. Let them know you are proud of them, and that you will support them as needed. In a world where children are not always seen as a blessing, encourage them in their decision.

2. Get nosy about finances.

Foster care adoptions are usually low or no cost to the adoptive family. However, private, agency, or international adoptions can be ridiculously expensive. (Our most recent international adoption cost a total of $42,000.) The financial aspect of adopting a child could be a huge source of stress for the family.

Ask the family, and then ask yourself how you can help them. Perhaps you can contribute to the adoption fees. If this is not possible, consider helping the family crowd source or fundraise. Some of our friends have held rummage sales for us, set up and organized on-line auctions for us, and donated items to us to be raffled. You could even consider offering them an interest-free loan.

It is heartbreaking to acknowledge that a lack of finances is the number one reason that more families do not adopt children. It doesn’t have to be this way! Do what you can to help in this area.

3. Have a paperwork party!

The amount of paperwork an adoption requires is substantial.  I personally have spent countless hours completing documents and answering home study related essay questions. There was an evening when a dear friend came to help me. We spent several hours munching on snacks and completing adoption grant forms. What a blessing it was to have help with this task and have a friend to chat with at the same time. If you enjoy writing or have an accounting or bookkeeping skillset, you may be a huge asset in completing the required biographical and financial reports.

4. Connect them with other adoptive and fostering families.

There is nothing better than encouragement from another family who has already completed the adoption journey. Their experience is priceless! Everyone knows at least one family who has adopted or fostered a child. Help make connections, so they can lean on each other for support. There are also many Facebook and online adoption and fostering support groups where you could direct them.

5. Offer to write a reference letter for the family.

Have you known them for a while? Do you trust them? Do you think they will be a good family for a child? If your answers were yes, then offer to write a reference letter for the adoptive family. The letter is just simply a statement required by the courts/agency which supports the family in their adoption efforts. In most cases it will need to be notarized, which can be done at almost any bank or currency exchange. Some agencies have a specific template that they require, so please check first before you write. Throughout our many adoptions, getting our chosen references to complete and return their letters to our adoption agency has always been a challenge. It can hold up the adoption process, so be prompt!

6. Pray for them.

Pray specifically that God would prepare their hearts to love and accept their new child, and that their new child be a wonderful fit for the family. Pray for the siblings in the home, that their hearts would be prepared as well. Pray the child would have a smooth transition into the family, the church and school. Pray for any feelings of abandonment, hurt, or loss the child may be feeling. Pray for the child’s birth family. Cover the entire process and all of those involved in your daily prayer. You can NEVER pray too much!

7. Keep an open heart and an open mind.

Is God calling you to adopt a child? There are over 160 million orphans in our world! There are over 400,000 children in foster care in our country. Almost daily I receive a call or email about a special needs child or infant that needs a forever family. The need is there. These children are real. They need us. Every child deserves the love, support, and life-time encouragement of a family.

You can change the trajectory of the life of a precious child by choosing to make them part of your family. Adoption and fostering are VERY good things!

Bio: Ann L. McKinney is the author of Always Room for More: Walking Through Open Doors.

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