There have been so many thoughts running around in my head recently I have been unable to verbalize them. I still don't know what to do with much of the information. I have been hurting for adoptive families, who after bringing their child home, then for whatever reason are unable to continue to parent that child. I attended Orphan Summit in California in May. It was supposed to be a time of refreshment and encouragement for myself as an adoptive mother. However, while I was there God began encouraging me to learn more ways the church can support foster/adoptive families. I was so encouraged to hear how many churches were supporting these families and children.
I recently met with some leaders in my own church to discuss ways we can support the foster/adoptive families in our church. We actually have a large populations of adoptive/foster families. I have two concerns for the families in our church, including my own family. We have a fantastic support group lead by a couple of adoptive moms, but I really think that families are needing more. Support and encouragement of fellow adoptive families is very important but that is only a piece of the puzzle. We are lacking support from the outside. We need our church family to come along beside us to fill in where we can't do for ourselves. Although adoption agencies are required to provide educational opportunities I still don't think families are prepared. If, we as the church are going to step up to the call and encourage families to adopt/foster we, the church, need to be the ones to stand up next to them and hold them up. Families are not prepared for the isolation they feel. They are not prepared for the embarrassment that goes along with the lack of immediate attachment. They are not prepared to have their marriage challenged. They are not prepared for the spiritual warfare that will go on in their home. They are not prepared for the loss of friendships and family. WAKE UP CHURCH!! WE NEED YOU!!! We need someone to call and check on us. We need someone to provide respite care. We need someone to bring us a meal. We need someone to be brave enough to come hang out at our house for adult conversation. We need someone to pray with us. We need someone to notice when we haven't been to church in a month.
Second, our churches are not prepared to minister to our children. I know that our family is quite unique due to our size and the number of needs our children have. However, I have talked with several adoptive families and they are experiencing the same feelings. Children who come from hard places or have significant medical/emotional needs have needs that are unique to them. I am hearing too many families who are not sending their children into the church classroom because they feel that the leaders are not equipped to handle their child's very unique needs and behaviors. We need our church family to be willing to be educated about the needs of our children. We need our church family to love our children unconditionally. We need our church family to be willing to volunteer to be our child's buddy so they can attend their age level class.
I am seeing families, like my own, become isolated from their church family. I would like to say that the meeting with my church leaders was productive but I can't say it was. In fact, it was said, "it may be easier to start something outside the church. Inside the church programs just get smothered out by church policies". That is so true. We attend what you would call a "mega church". It is sad to say that church has become a "big business". I will save that discussion for another time. I don't know what God is wanting me to do with all of this. Sometimes I feel like I am too weak to minister to other families but that is just selfishness. How can I minister to others when I too am in need. God has laid this upon my heart that I know, not sure what is next.
I just want to add, for those families who know us personally, life at our house is not always rosy. I know that many times we look like we have it all together when we are in public. Yes, I have had to physically dress my preteen adopted child because she refused to wear the same clothes more than once. Yes, I have held a child screaming for their birth mom. Yes, I have had a child tell me they want to go back to their birth country. Yes, I have held a child as they screamed uncontrollably at night from night terrors. Yes, I have been pushed away. Yes, I have spent hours at a time repeatedly putting a child in time out. Yes, I have sat in my closet and cried out to God. Yes, I have wondered if I will ever attach to this child. Yes, I yell at my kids. Yes, I worry about my children with medical issues. Yes, it overwhelms me sometimes. Yes, I struggle daily. So, if you need a friend I am here. I may not understand exactly what you are going through but know that I too am struggling right along beside you.