Every day in Missouri:
• 4 children are sexually abused
• 16 babies are born at low birth weight
• 21 children enter foster or residential care
• 24 teenagers give birth
• 164 children are found to be abused or neglected
• 129 law violation referrals are made to juvenile courts
• 128 calls are made to the Child Abuse Hotline
• 252,485 children live in poverty
The statistics above are shocking. After reading them for the first time, my heart sank. It wasn't until I started talking with other foster and adoptive families that I realized this: Dan and I do not have to wait until we move back to Africa to serve and care for orphans. I know this to be true and Dan and I do support and give to organizations that care for orphans, but I never felt compelled to do anything here in St. Louis. I am so grateful for the individuals who have shared their stories and encouraged us through the fostering process so far.
Hopefully, more people will trust in God's strength and not let fear hold them back from changing the lives of these little ones. Sometimes you just don't know where to begin because it's so overwhelming! To get you started, here are my Top 10 ways to love and serve the orphaned and neglected children across the world:
10. Give Financially. This is probably the easiest way to support orphans. There are so many people out there who spend their lives physically caring for orphans, but they need your resources. Not everyone feels called to adopt or start an orphanage in Peru. BUT, everyone has money they could give instead of splurging on that extra frozen coffee. Their are countless organizations, but the ones below are those that I personally support.
9. Visit them! You know the group your church is sending to South America in 8 months? Consider going! Many people think that the money for air fare is better spent on diapers for the orphans, but I believe that a physical connection is worth something, too. The volunteers are greatly encouraged by short term teams and the babies never get enough hugs!!
You can visit the links above for info about visiting children across the world, but you don't always have to get on a plane to visit orphans. Did you know there is a crisis nursery here in St. Louis?? I'm sure there is one in every city.
8. Volunteer. There are crisis nurseries all of the U.S. You could sign up to be a Big Brother or Sister. You could also volunteer to work in a crisis pregnancy center to educate and support women who choose to keep their babies in unplanned pregnancies. There are so many ways to support and love children in your community who are orphaned, neglected or in danger of becoming so.
7. Sponsor an orphan! I mentioned Compassion International above. They are one of many organizations where you can sponsor a child and send them to school.
6. Throw a baby shower! If you know someone who is adopting, offer to throw a shower. Families who adopt need baby gear, too! You can either do it before they get placed or afterwards if the gender/age is unknown. Showers are a great way to celebrate a growing family and show your support and encouragement to families who adopt and foster.
5. Babysit for foster/adoptive families. We had to take a 9 week long class to become foster parents and needed a lot of babysitting. We have amazing supportive friends who saved us lots of money by babysitting for free! If you know a family who has just acquired new kids, offer to help out somehow. Even a half hour can give parents the break they need to get through the day and be better for their children.
4. Bring a meal. Just as you would bring dinner to a family with a new baby, new foster/adoptive families want food, too!! No matter how children come into your home, it's a huge life change that takes time getting used to. One less meal for mom to make is a blessing. TRUST ME!
3. Become a foster family! Talk with people you know who have fostered before. You'll be surprised at how not-scary fostering or adopting can be! Is your church hosting an adoption seminar? Attend! It doesn't mean you have to take a kid home with you that day, but it might start a life changing process (for you and your family, not just the adopted child :).
2. Adopt! I know this is not for everyone, but I honestly believe more people need to be adopting. Many people I know have already made the decision not to adopt by saying "I don't think that's for us..." without giving it much thought. Look into it. Ask questions and seek wisdom from families who have been there before. Your heart AND situation might change.
1. Pray. Pray for specific ministries that serve orphans. Pray for families you know who are in the midst of an adoption or fostering process. Pray for God to show you how to get involved and to prepare or change your heart. God cares about these little ones!!