This is a post from Guest Columnist – Sarah Thacker of Sarah Thacker Adoption Coaching and Consulting.
147 million orphans?
350,000 cases of cholera being reported in Haiti?
925 million hungry people worldwide?
27 million people are slaves across the world?
422,773 kids in foster care in the United States?
115,000 kids in the US waiting to be adopted?
1 million children are exploited in the world sex trade every year?
$32 billion was made in the sex trade last year?
Ahhhh! Overwhelm. Too much. Turn the channel. Quit thinking about it.
Most people I know care about children and they are grieved that kids don’t have forever families and don’t have their basic needs met. Not everyone can adopt or should adopt, but everyone can DO something. After speaking at my church for Orphan Sunday, I asked the congregation if we had enough faith to do something. I summarized the talk here.
Lately, I have become tired of talking about things, and I want to DO SOMETHING, to make a difference. Today if you are ready to DO SOMETHING, I want to give you a list of tangible and inspiring ways to help:
Pray that God would show you what to do. Pray that He will break your heart for what breaks His. I am confident that He will answer.
Become educated about adoption and the situations children face. Start following blogs and paying attention about what is going on in the world with our children. My favorite book about adoption that brings the plight of the orphan to life is There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Green. This book is a stunning chronicle of one woman’s journey to help orphans in Ethiopia.
Become a foster parent or a respite parent. There is an enormous need for good foster homes. It saddens and sickens me some of the stories that I hear about children being treated horrendously in foster care. A Sunday School class in Colorado saw a need for better foster homes and started their own organization called Hope to Home. They recruit quality, loving people and train and support them to be amazing foster families.
Be a Lifeline to someone else who has adopted or who is fostering. Speaking from experience and from what I hear from other adoptive families, this is one of the HUGEST gifts you can give. One organization in Colorado is now requiring people who want to adopt to have two families ready to assist them and spend regular time with the children they are adopting. Families need others to walk alongside them and support them in the tough places.
Look for places and people to donate your used things. I’m betting that if you called your local county and asked the Human Services department if anyone they new needed a crib or an exersaucer, or whatever, that they will immediately know someone.
Be creative with those around you. My friends and I are starting a Book Club that is committed to action. We are going to read books and then DO SOMETHING based on what has inspired us in the book. Another church in Colorado was concerned about the growing numbers of kids waiting in foster care. They set a goal to have zero kids waiting in their system by 2014. Right now, they are far ahead of their goal. They help recruit families for children. They site this in one of their reasons why they do what they do:
Project 1.27’s cost for one child to be adopted:$5,000
Yearly Cost to Govt. for 1 child in foster care:$50,000
There are tons of ways to support children internationally. The biggest one on my heart right now: supporting women to keep their children in the first place. Obviously, I’m pro-adoption. I’ve adopted two children. But, I do think adoption should be a last resort. Our focus in third world countries should be to support mothers so they have food, shelter, and education for their children.
Two organizations that I know are doing this well:
Heartline in Haiti They provide education, skills, and jobs for women. Near and dear to my heart is that they provide Pre-natal and Early Childhood Development classes. They have a passion for helping women and children and they do it well.
Apparent Project They call themselves the un-orphanage. They help women make things to sell to support their children. People in the states can have a “home party” and invite their friends and families and buy Haitian jewelry and crafts. I have one of their necklaces and I wear it almost every day.
Kristin Howerton from Rage Against the Minivan has a great post here about ways to get involved in orphan care and it’s much longer and more in-depth than the list I’ve given you. If you are looking for more ways to help, I definitely advocate visiting her site!
Can you think of other ways to help? How about a great book to read about caring for those in need? Please let me know in the comments! It would be fantastic to get a longer list going.