Within the past decade, the number of adoptive families throughout the U.S. seems to have grown by leaps and bounds. Perhaps you’ve noticed this in your own church or community. It’s beautiful to see God calling His people to welcome home children without families and to provide them with the love and sense of permanency they so desperately need.
But what can we, as outside observers, do to help meet the needs of these newly formed or expanded families? Are there ways we can help? Certainly! Many adoptive families feel the same tensions that any growing family experiences, not to mention the added stress of language barriers, previous abuse and neglect their children may have experienced, and other unique challenges. They need the support of their extended families, friends, and churches. Here are some ways you can “W.R.A.P.” around the adoptive and foster families in your circle of influence.
- Wrestle in Prayer
John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Remember, adoption only happens because a child was abused, neglected or abandoned, or because previous caregivers were unable to provide the safe and stable family children need. In many cases, the enemy has stolen their childhood, killed their dreams and destroyed their hope. But the good news of God is that he comes to bring life, and he may be using an adoptive or foster family to restore life to that child.
Pray specifically and intentionally for the needs of the family. Consider asking them what their biggest prayer needs are for the week ahead – it may be medical appointments, school concerns, or other day-to-day challenges. Whatever those needs are, be sure to keep them in the strictest confidence as you lift up the family in prayer.
- Respite Care/Child Care
Too many adoptive families feel isolated in their own homes. For some, the unique needs of their child make it difficult to find appropriate that would allow them to do things like run to the store, have a date night, or celebrate a weekend away. For all parents, it’s important to have those times of respite to feel refreshed.
Providing care for an adoptive or foster family takes time and intentionality. It’s important to learn the structure parents have set in place that works for their child, and to be careful to follow any rules the parents have in place. Approach the family with humility to really learn and understand their needs, even if it’s not how you think you would parent. Respite care only works if parents are confident in the care their child is getting while they’re away.
- Acts of Service
Most of us can feel overwhelmed with all the tasks on our plate – not just work, but household chores, bills, errands, spending time with our spouse and kids, and so much more. Now add to that a child with unique needs – a child who may not “go with the flow” as much as you’d like. That’s what many adoptive families face as they parent kids who have experienced trauma of various kinds – abuse, neglect, abandonment. The effect of a past like that does impact the present reality of daily life.
If you can cook, clean, drive, provide childcare, and more, you can serve an adoptive family. For some, it may mean taking care of the yard work so Dad is able to spend time with his son after work. Or it could mean taking a meal to a family at least once a week so mom is available to focus on the needs of her daughter rather splitting her time with the stove. Honor the needs of a family and work together to determine how your gift of service fits best in the family’s life, rather than posing an extra burden to them.
- Promises of God
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…” (Hebrews 3:13). A word of encouragement can sustain a hurting spirit. In our culture, it’s much easier to tear one another down, cast a questioning glance, or second-guess someone’s opinion. That’s why it’s important to be people of encouragement, choosing to honor the good in people and support them when they struggle.
Take time to write a brief note. You can share a promise from Scripture, highlight something you’ve learned from the family, or share how you’re praying for them specifically. All of us need to know we’re not walking alone – whatever road we may be on. Adoptive families are no different.
Every adoptive family could benefit from at least one (if not all!) of the things mentioned above. Take time today to identify an adoptive family that may be hurting, and ask God to show you how you can W.R.A.P. around them!
For more comprehensive information, download a free copy of our Wrapping Around Adoptive Families booklet.