Recent figures from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families indicated there were 1.8 million children adopted in the USA in the latest recording year.
Of the 1.8 million adopted children in the USA, 37% came from foster care. Private domestic adoptions accounted for 38%. International adoptions were at 25%. These numbers don’t include step-parent adoptions. Many families are unable to adopt in the traditional sense but still have a heart for children. These folks might be older. Maybe they don’t have the resources. Perhaps their lifestyle doesn’t fit into fulfilling the demands of child-rearing.
There are also children who need the help and encouragement of loving adults but are not up for adoption. They have biological parents who have not given up or lost custody of the children, but have difficulty assuming their parenting responsibilities. Whatever the circumstances, these kids need and could benefit greatly from the loving intervention of caring adults in the church.
We call these kids “Orphans with Parents” and they are everywhere. Maybe they live near your church. They might be playing on the sidewalk of the church through the week just waiting for an invitation to come inside. This could be especially true in small communities with smaller local churches.
The children may never visit your home, but you can make them feel welcome in God’s house. Ideas for connecting with them might include starting a Sunday morning breakfast program so the children begin that day with a nutritious meal. An after school program to help kids with homework is another way to be a part of their lives in a positive way. Welcoming these children to experience a Bible club like AWANA or simply inviting a child to sit with your family during worship can be a significant way to reach out.
Connecting with and encouraging these “Orphans with Parents” is time well spent and can be very rewarding for young and old alike. How do we know this to be true? Because the small church we attend took the time and energy to minister to children whose parents were not connected. Today one of the kids who benefitted from the outreach is in college and is still a big part of our lives. She was an “Orphan with Parents” who through the grace of God and the ministry of a small church has become a responsible adult.