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Intersection of Life and Faith

My Friends Have Adopted! How Can We, the Church, Help Now?

Bri Stensrud

The following is a transcribed Video Q&A, so the text may not read like an edited article would. Scroll to the bottom to view this video in its entirety. 

I think it's an important message to tell your congregation, that we are all called to do something when it comes to adoption. Not everyone is called to adopt, but everybody can do something. Everyone can play a role. I think it's important to explain how tangible some of these needs are of these families.

If you can cook, clean, babysit, or drive, you can play a vital role in supporting a family. I think a lot of times in churches, you have people who are really passionate about this issue, so you'll have a family here, a family there that will support. But then they get exhausted in being the only support too.

I think an effective way to do this in your church is if you've got a couple who's looking to adopt, or they have adopted, wrap their small group around them. Equip that small group. If they're adopting from the foster care system, some of them will have restrictions on who can watch the children and whatnot, for certain periods of time.

Maybe that whole small group gets certified in order to be able to provide respite care, because they're gonna need it. If they're adopting internationally or domestically, or whatever that might look like, cook, clean, babysitter, drive, they're adding to their family. What does that look like?

Maybe that's a financial donation to their family every once in a while. Maybe that's you going over and just watching TV with the kids for an hour, or taking them out to the park so mom can have a minute to herself. Just really tangible things. It shouldn't be crippling to think, "How do I help a family?" Just show up. Just show up and ask.

A lot of times they might say, "I don't even really know what I need." If you're standing there and observing, there might be a sink full of dirty dishes. Just do the dirty dishes and then you'll start to look around and see something else. Can I do this?

A lot of adoptive families have a hard time asking for help, because they feel like they've already asked people for a lot of help upfront, especially if you're adopting domestically or internationally with the cost of that. We fundraise, I don't want to ask anyone for anything else.

To be perfectly honest, a lot of adoptive families, when they ask for help, they have to ask for repeated help. They start to feel like people get annoyed or tired with their need. We've got to let families be vulnerable with us. We have to respond. I can't tell you how many friends that I have, who have continually shared their need. It might not be blatant, but it's like, "Man I'm just so tired."

They haven't asked, "Hey can you come over and watch the kids while I nap?" But we need to be in tune and think, "Okay she's exhausted. What would I need if I was exhausted?" Just help them know that you are a safe place to communicate their need, because they communicate these things and then those needs aren't met. Then they stop asking. That's when they start to just deteriorate and die on the vine.

Being available, be present, and showing up even when you don't know what to do.

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