When we start talking about orphan care, most people think we mean adoption. And yes, adoption is a huge and vital part of orphan care. But it's not the only part. I'll get to adoption in a bit, but let's talk about what you can do for orphans besides adoption.
1. PRAY. Everyone can do this, even young children. (Little detour here, while speaking of children. If you have kids, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE educate them about orphans!!!!! Keep it age appropriate, obviously, but kids need to know from a young age that orphans are out there, and that they NEED US. If you don't personally know anyone who has adopted, this might feel awkward at first, but it's so so so important. Ok, moving on.) Pray for the Lord to speak to people's hearts about orphan care. Pray for orphans who wait, many with little to no hope of ever having a family. Pray for families who are adopting; it's a grueling process. Pray for families who have adopted. Life isn't all sunshine and roses just because you give a child love and a family. Pray for the kids who have been adopted. They have lost so much, and many have suffered unspeakable abuse and neglect. Suddenly having a family doesn't make all that go away. Pray for them to find healing in Christ. Pray for kids in foster care. They too have lost and suffered. Pray for foster parents. They deal with the same issues as adoptive parents, and then some. Pray for orphanage workers. The list can go on and on. You better get started!
2. GIVE. Adoption is expensive. Find someone who is adopting and give toward their costs. Find an orphanage and donate to it. Or ask what they need and collect those items. Get your friends and family involved. If you need help finding a place to support, I can put you in touch with someone working in Haiti, the Philippines, Guatemala, China, Mexico, or Africa. You can also give to organizations such as Show Hope, Lifesong For Orphans, Samaritan's Purse, Compassion International, etc. Which leads me to ...
3. SPONSOR. Truly, I could write a whole book about why everyone should sponsor. Not everyone should adopt or foster. Not everyone can (more on that soon!), but just about everyone reading this can and should sponsor a child. For $30-$40 per month (depending on the organization you choose to sponsor with) you can provide good food, clean water (I could write another book about that), medical care, education, and the gospel. Nowhere in America can your money go so far! Not only that, but you give a child HOPE. Hope for the future. Hope for their family. Hope for a life without poverty. Hope in the knowledge that someone cares about them. You can literally save their life and change the whole direction of their future. And they send you letters and draw you pictures! Please, visit compassion.com, feedthechildren.org, or samaritanspurse.org. See the faces. See the hopelessness that poverty creates. See the difference you can make with such a little bit of your abundance. I promise you won't regret it.
4. FOSTER. Foster care is scary to me, I just have be honest. The things children have suffered that send them into foster care in the first place, coupled with equally abusive foster parents and a system that is flawed beyond belief make me want to RUN far, far away. But those are the very reasons that good foster parents are desperately needed. Fostering is not something to be entered into lightly, and in some regards I think it's even harder than outright adopting a child. But children need a chance. They need that same hope that impoverished children get from sponsorship. They need adults who will show them that they are loved, that they are valued, and that they have a purpose and they CAN succeed. Maybe you're like me and terrified of fostering. Or maybe you've never even considered it as a possibility. I just want to encourage you to pray about. The need is so great, and it's not going away.
5. ADOPT. I've saved the best for last. Not because the first 4 are less needed, less important. On the contrary, they are just as important. Not everyone can adopt. And not every child can be adopted. So we need all manner of orphan care. But I've seen what adoption does for a child. I've seen it in my own child, and in so many others. For those who can't be adopted, maybe because their country is closed, or because they are not legally free for adoption, we must do whatever else we can to care for them. But for those who are free for adoption, for those who wait, for those who long for a family, for those who face life in an adult mental institution but are yet children, for those who will die without medical care we take for granted, for those who will age out and become a statistic: they need to be adopted. The problem isn't that God has called too few families to adopt. It can't be. God's heart is FOR the orphan. The problem is that too few people are willing. Too few will even consider it. And of those who do consider it, too few will go through with it. Sadly, I know many people who would love nothing more than to adopt a child (or several!), but circumstances beyond their control make that impossible at this time. But even worse is the fact that many (dare I say most) of us are perfectly able to adopt. "But I'm not called." Have you even asked? Because I find it hard to believe that a God who would go to the lengths He did to adopt us would say NO to someone wanting/willing to adopt. And if He does say no, then I'm very sure He is saying YES to one of the previous four options. "I can't afford it." If we are talking about the actual cost of adoption, you're probably right. Not many people I know have thousands of dollars just sitting around. But God will always provide for what He asks you to do. Always. If you're talking about the cost of adding a child to your family, well, only you know if that's really true. It may very well be. This is a tough economy we live in, and many families are genuinely struggling. "_______________ (Insert your own excuse here." I could list several more frequently heard objections to adoption, but I'll not waste my time. Just think about it. Begin to pray about it. See where God leads you. You might be surprised.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways you can care for the orphan. Find a way. Do something. Don't wait any longer. They've waited long enough.