It's adoption month, and we aren't adopting, or starting an adoption, or paying off an adoption, so I feel like I can post this without anyone thinking it's about me. Actually, all of the below are wonderful things that people stepped up and did for us when we were adopting, which is how I came up with the ideas in the first place. All Christians are called to care for the vulnerable, and as James reminds us, this means orphans. You may not be called to adopt (or perhaps you are, consider praying about it this month), but you can provide for an orphan by supporting a family in the process of adopting. Here are a few ideas:
1. Pray! Pray for the child being adopted, pray for the family adopting them, pray for the family and friends the child is leaving behind, pray for the process, pray for the child's birth country. Just pray.
2. Offer to bring a meal or watch kids when the family is preparing to travel. Those last few days are exhausting and crazy.
3. Make a "new baby" meal when they come home. Adoptive parents are physically spent from travel and jet-lag, all the kids have adjustments to make, there is unpacking to do, relationships to form, and all the regular demands of running a house/family. A meal helps more than you know.
4. Offer to babysit so adopting Mom and Dad can have one last date before they travel - most families are hesitant to leave newly adopted kiddos with babysitters for the first few months (it's standard adoption/bonding advice), so getting that last night out before the new little one comes home is crucial.
5. Offer hand-me-downs during the adopting process. Adoptions cost loads of money, much of which has to be scraped together and paid out in large chunks, and many adopting families save that money by cutting back on normal expenditures. Your hand-me-downs could save another family that extra few hundred they need to pay for their homestudy, their visa, or their plane tickets. Seriously, they help so much.
6. Offer to lend or give hand-me-down baby gear when they get home. Most families are still paying off the travel costs that they put on their credit cards last minute. Have a stroller you aren't using? A baby swing to lend? Not having to purchase those items is a lifesaver. Just be forewarned that any family who is still being scrutinized by the state has to check everything against recalled product lists - so they may need to ask you the make/model before they say yes (and it isn't because they are picky or rude).
7. Depending on your comfort level (and that of the family) and the age of the child coming home, if you are a nursing mother with a good breast pump...offer milk. We were so blessed to have a few month's of breast milk donated to us when T first got home. Since you can't buy it this is literally priceless.
8. Do you have the a gift for photography? Offer to take pictures! You could provide the shots for the birth announcement, or do some new family photos. Adopting families often don't have enough pictures of their child's early years and are thus scrambling to make up for lost time.
9. Each adoption starts out with a homestudy that includes a home inspection. Offer to help clean things up the day before the inspection - families never know whether their social worker will be glancing in every room or searching the cupboards...so they have to be overly prepared.
10. Host a fundraiser for them. Most families don't have $30k lying around when they start the adoption process. Shocking, I know. And most of us don't really enjoy constantly talking about how much adoption costs, or how much we need money. Really, it isn't fun at all. Trust me. It is such a blessing when someone offers to help you raise money. Hosting a garage sale on their behalf is great, throwing a craft boutique, or selling whatever cool thing you have the skills to make on their behalf, all of it helps.
11. On the subject of money, you could also consider just donating some to an adopting family. We all spend loads of money on plenty of things that don't have a fraction of the value that adoption does. Consider giving up a "luxury" in your budget and just giving that money to a family struggling to raise funds to bring a child home. I know the costs of adoption seem excessively high, but they are usually almost entirely out of the adoptive family's control, and for a waiting child they are the difference between a life in an institution and a life with a family.
12. Host a prayer meeting right before they travel. It feels so good to leave for a trip knowing that you are covered in prayer.
13. While Mom or Dad (or both) are gone, plan a play date or special time with any siblings left at home. Their world has just turned upside down, and it is about to get much crazier with the arrival of new kids in their family. A little special time for them is a good thing.
14. Host a baby shower for the new little one, especially if it is the family's first child. Chances are that Momma has spent many years attending baby showers while longing for a baby, and would really appreciate the time to celebrate the new addition to her family.
15. Write emails, FB comments, blog comments, etc while the family is in-country, especially if it is a long stay. It's always nice to get a note from home, and encouragement is always needed!
16. Pray! Pray for the adoptive child, pray for the family, pray for the family and friends the adoptive child is leaving behind, pray for the process, pray for the child's birth country. Just pray. (Yep, this is first and last, because it's the most important and warrants repeating).
A great video on how to come alongside an adopting family:
And a post about fundraising and adoption: http://ordinary-time.blogspot.com/2012/11/orphan-sunday.html