Guest Editorial: Find ways to serve expectant families, orphans
Speaking with Chris and Brooke Mills a few weeks ago about their adoption journey amid the COVID-19 pandemic and global conflict (see the story here) brought back a lot of memories.
In early September 2001, my husband, Owen, and I were in their place. A few months into the adoption process, we were anxiously awaiting a call from our agency to tell us that we had been matched with a child. Every morning we woke up thinking, “This could be the day!
That hope turned to fear on the morning of 9/11 as news of the terrorist attacks on the United States spread.
Owen and I wondered if, instead of a placement, we were getting a call saying the process was on hold until world events calmed down a bit.
To our surprise and delight, when the call came in, we learned that we had been matched with a 6 month old boy.
Less than two months after the September 11 attacks, we were on the first of many planes that would take us from Atlanta to New York, to Russia, to Kazakhstan and finally home as new parents.
“A mission and a goal”
International travel is not without risk, and in the days following 9/11, security was extremely tight. But we had a mission and a goal: to bring into our family the little boy we had hoped for, for whom we had prayed, whom we had loved from afar before we even knew his name.
That’s where the Mills family is and so many other families are right now.
They are at different stages of the international adoption process, but the children they are expecting already have a place in their hearts.
These expectant mothers and fathers have been vetted by their adoption agencies, undergoing rigorous background checks, home studies and interviews. They were fingerprinted and vaccinated.
They have invested financially, emotionally and spiritually in a child they have never met, but who they already love more than words can express.
Let’s not forget them in the meantime.
Ways to encourage
Is there a family around you who adopts? What can you do to encourage them this week?
Here are some suggestions: Ask them about their children and the adoption process. Allow them to share their hearts and prayer needs. Send an encouraging note. Have a meal. Offer to sit with their kids while they fill out paperwork or attend adoption-related meetings or maybe just take a night off to relax.
Let us also remember these precious children.
Lifeline Children’s Services, a Birmingham-based ministry that cares for vulnerable children around the world through orphan care, foster care and adoption, estimates that 10,000 children become orphans every day – losing one or both parents to disease, natural disaster, stigma or poverty.
According to some estimates, the number of orphans has increased exponentially due to deaths associated with COVID-19.
In the United States alone, where some 400,000 children are already in foster care, a study published in The Journal of Pediatrics suggests that more than 140,000 children under the age of 18 have lost a parent or secondary caregiver due to the pandemic.
These alarming statistics should remind us that the children of our churches and communities mourn those who provided daily doses of love, security and care.
Ways to help
Churches or other organizations can help these families, but as neighbors, friends and followers of Christ, what immediate needs of these families can we meet?
A meal or a gift card for necessities or a treat could be a simple reminder that their loss is not forgotten.
For more ways to get involved in caring for orphans or supporting injured children and families, visit the websites of Lifeline (lifelinechild.org) or Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries (alabamachild.org) .