Understanding the Theology Behind Caring for Orphans
In James 1:27 it says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (ESV)
Webster defines affliction as “persistent pain or distress” and “great suffering.” James is not just saying that we should go “visit” orphans and widows and have polite conversations with them.
What James is saying here is that we should show up and meet orphans and widows in the place of their suffering, pain, and distress.
Often times people take this scripture to mean that to fulfill this in their lives they must be willing to adopt or foster a child, but this line of thinking is a limited and narrow response to living out this scripture.
There are many ways to offer support that do not include taking a child into your home and caring for them on a regular basis. You see, God has not called everyone to adopt or foster a child, instead God has call each of us to do SOMETHING to meet orphans and widows in their suffering, pain, and distress.
He created each of us with a unique set of skills and giftings and we can fulfill God’s call to care for orphans and widows by offering these skills and giftings to encourage, lift up, support, and assist those around us.
Understating Adoptive and Foster Family’s Needs
Before one can truly understand what Wrap Around Care is, one must first understand a few things about why this type of care is essential to the success of adoptive and foster families.
Adoptive and fostering families who take in orphaned or vulnerable children are unique and the dynamics is these families are very different from the dynamics of what most of us would consider a “traditional,” a family who has not adopted or fostered a child. These next few paragraphs will briefly touch on this, but you can find much more in-depth information on how adoptive and foster families are unique in the article 7 Uniqueness of Adoptive and Foster Families.
Adoptive and foster families face a very unique set of challenges that drastically varies from challenges a traditional family faces. Some of these challenges include but are not limited to – adjusting to another family member and finding a new “normal,” learning how to meet the physical needs of a new child they know very little about and who has suffered from some sort of trauma, helping the new child work through past traumas and behaviors that are a direct result of that trauma, working through mounds of paperwork and documentations required by the families agency, multiple doctors’ visits a month, countless court dates, possible visitations with biological parents and the aftermath these visits can have because of the trauma they can cause the child, and so much more. You can read more about these challenges here. (LINK)
This small overview of the challenges listed above is often very overwhelming on anyone, but this is especially true for families who have taken in these children and are doing their best to love, encourage, support, and care for them in additional to caring for their own biological children, spouses, full time jobs, and many other things they are juggling.
Often times the adoptive or foster family gets so overwhelmed by all of the demands placed on them that they want to give up, shut down, or possible just tune out of all other things in life. Sometimes these families find themselves in survival mode and can only focus on the essentials of the day to day, which often times means that they do not take time to care for themselves since so much of their time and energy is spent on the children in the home.
This is a place no adoptive or foster family should ever have to be and this is a huge reason why Wrap Around Care is essential to supporting adoptive and foster families. Unfortunately, and all too often, adoptive and foster families feel as though they are facing the most difficult challenges of their lives completely alone because now one understands why they are doing what they are doing.
And too many times adoptive and foster families give up on a child or possible future children they may be able to impact because they are just too overwhelmed and too exhausted to keep going. Our goal is to keep this type of burn out from happening and to accomplish this goal, we have built a space for others to education themselves on what Wrap Around Care is and why it is so necessary for adoptive and foster parents.
Defining Wrap Around Care
Now that you have a basic understanding of how God has called each of us to do something to meet orphans in their suffering, pain, and distress, as well as why it is essential that adoptive and foster families receive some form of Wrap Around Care we can discuss what Wrap Around Care is.
Wrap Around Care is simply defined by wrapping around a family who has taken in an orphaned or vulnerable child who is at risk of becoming an orphan and offering support in a variety of different ways to meet physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the family. This support could be a wide range of assistance opportunities and could involve a variety of different commitment levels.
For example, a easy one-time commitment level of support that would meet a physical need could be taking ready to eat meal to a family who has just taking an adoptive placement. This simple act of preparing, cook, and delivering a meal to a family means that those parents have one less meal to shop for, pay for, prepare, and cook.
This means that instead these parents are able to spend all of that time saved on building a relationship with the child who has just been placed in their home. Other ideas might be helping with laundry, cleaning around the house, yard work, transportation, buying groceries, or donating supplies.
A more time-consuming commitment level that would meet a physical and emotional need could be offering to babysit for a foster family who needs to attend a court session where a young child’s fate will be decided or maybe so that the parents can have a date night to take time to focus on their marriage relationship and rejuvenate away from the children.
A few other ideas for meeting the emotional needs of an adoptive or foster family might be attending a court dates to offer support when outcomes of these are so unknown, going to a doctor’s appointments with a parent so that you can help with the child(ren) while the parents talked to the doctor, or maybe running errands with a parent so that they can have some much needed adult conversation about something other than the children.
Yet another way to support an adoptive or foster family in a very necessary way would be to pour into them spiritually. This could likely be the most impactful way that you can support these families. You can do this by encouraging them throughout their journey, checking in on them frequently, sitting with them and simply listening to them talk without trying to solve their problems. And most importantly you can pour into a family spiritually by becoming a prayer warrior for the family and all those who come in contact with them (biological parents, CPS case workers, CASA workers, agency case workers, judges, doctors, etc) – (add links to terms/definitions page)
Now that you understand the basic principles of caring for orphans and vulnerable children as well as the families who take these children into their homes, you care ready to being finding you fit and figuring out how you can get involved with wrapping around an adoptive or foster family to help them through the beautiful, messy, and uncomfortable joureny they are going through.
*For more specific ideas on how to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of adoptive and foster families through Wrap Around Care, visit our articles titled 14 Ways to Provide Practical Wrap Around Care for Adoptive and Foster Families or 7 Ways to Provide Emotional and Spiritual Care for Adoptive and Foster Families.Families (LINKS)