Editor’s Note: The TEXAN asked John Mark Yeats, dean of Midwestern College in Kansas City and adoptive father of four, to list ways you and your church can support adoptive families before, during and after the adoption process.
How Christians Can Help
- Throw a shower/party when the adoption is finalized. Adoptive families never know quite the age nor the needs a child will have when they bring them home. A shower for a newly adopted 5-year-old is different than a newly adopted 5-month-old.
- Love the kids. Many adopted childen experience struggles, but they are still kids and need love.
- Become certified as a respite caregiver so that you can give adoptive moms and dads a “date night” during the period before final placement.
- Don’t ask your questions about adoption in front of or direct them toward the children.
- Most adoptive families are willing to share their stories, but ask permission before you delve into questions. Say something like, “I have always wanted to know more about adoption. Is there a time we can get together so I can hear more of your story?”
- Avoid assuming that families adopt only because of infertility. The old “I just know you are going to have a child because so-and-so applied to adopt and got pregnant!” can be hurtful to families. It opens wounds to those who do/did struggle with infertility and makes adoptive children feel second-class when compared to biological children.
How Churches Can Help
- Preach on adoption.
- Do “child” dedication, not baby dedication. We were actually prevented from publicly dedicating our children at our church because they weren’t babies.
- Pastors and staff need to be aware of adoption resources in your area.
- Bring meals to the homes of those who have a new placement. Families with biological children have nine months or so to prepare. Adoption placements often happen suddenly, and a family may add a child unexpectedly.
- Respect privacy, if needed. Some children adopted from international and domestic contexts need bonding time with the adoptive parents. It is not uncommon for the new parents to spend exclusive time with that child to help with bonding.
- Think carefully about how you use the term “adopt.” Adoption is forever. It strikes adoptive families oddly when we “adopt” a family at Christmas or “adopt a teen” for youth camp.
- CELEBRATE every adoption. Big time. Publicly. Pray for adoptive families publicly. This is a prime time to point to the gospel and what happens to us when we are saved.