Question: I wanted to ask you, I feel very clearly called to adoption and to serve orphans. However, I have no idea what that means for me right now. I'm 22 and unmarried, so, clearly, adopting isn't something that is even an option for me at this point. But, I hate the idea of sitting around waiting to be married and financially able to adopt before I serve this population. My heart is daily broken for these kids, but I feel stuck. Sometimes I get so frustrated because I feel like I am unable to do anything at all. Do you have any advice on how I can help? What I can do? How to get involved?
I loved this question that a reader emailed me and I have been sitting on it a while, waiting to get the right words when finally it hit me that I needed to ask my friend Becca
to help me answer this one, because she has walked in these shoes. Her advice is amazing and I hope that this blesses so many of you!
If you have questions, send them to me and either I'll answer them or I'll ask a friend that knows more than me to answer. Any question is open book whether it's about adoption, my life, raising my kids, my marriage, being married to a singer … whatever! My email is at the bottom of this blog!
This is a great question! I love hearing people’s desire to get involved in orphan care. It is such a tangible picture of God’s love for us. Before I get into all the ways that you can get involved, I do want you to know that even though you are young and single, you can still adopt. While many agencies, foreign and domestic, have requirements that you do not meet, there are still ways to get directly involved. I felt God calling me to get involved and was in a similar situation, but God led me to foster care – which you would totally qualify for. But before you jump in with 2 feet, I would recommend jumping in with something that will allow you to get your feet a little wet first. Because while orphan care is beautiful and it is something God tells us to do, it is hard.
I would recommend getting licensed to babysit or do respite care for foster families. This is a huge need and a great way to get involved! The requirements are less to babysit but allow you to only care for the child for a few hours. If you get respite certified you can help for up to 2 weeks – but of course the requirements are much higher. This will give you the opportunity to come alongside foster parents in their journey. Foster parents rarely get a break and they can only use people who are certified by their agency to babysit. And trust me, they need breaks. 🙂 And as you build relationships with the foster parents, perhaps you and your community can help support them in other ways as well (meals, gift cards, laundry and house cleaning). Not only will this help the parents, it will help you get an idea of what it is like to do foster care.
Another great way to get involved is by becoming a CASA.
A CASA is a Court Appointed Special Advocate. This person is a neutral party who gets to participate in foster children’s cases, but speaking up for the specific child they serve with about what they want, how things are going in the home, etc. There is a huge need for CASA’s
Another way to help is by volunteering at your local children’s home. I know here in Austin, we have at least 3 that I know of. Most of these children have been removed from their home and then have bounced in and out of Foster Homes before the moved to the children’s home. They have a great need for steady adults in their lives.
You are also at a great age to help foster girls that are graduating out of the system, but need a mentor to help teach them life skills and give them advice as they try to figure out adult life with no parents to lean on.
These are some great places to start. As a foster parent, I can tell you that all of them are important!! And as you get involved you may find God continuing you call you move closer to adopting yourself – married or not. But, as someone much wiser than me once said, “Make sure that is really what God is calling you to do because it will be the hardest thing in your life.” And so far she is right, I wouldn’t trade it. I love my boys and I love Jesus more than I ever have before, but it is not easy!
Becca Harris has adopted 2 teenage boys from foster care, Dexter and Jeremiah. About 2 and half years ago, she became a licensed foster parent. Dexter and Jeremiah were her first foster placement. After a series of events, including 4 months where they lived with some bio family, they became a forever home on November 7, 2013! Now she lives the crazy life of single parenthood with teenage boys, but wouldn’t trade it for one minute.