What do you think of when you hear the word “adoption?” Perhaps it’s a young couple unable to have biological children who adopt a baby needing forever parents. Over the years, Missouri Baptist Children’s Home has placed innumerable babies in loving adoptive homes; in recent years our ministry has expanded and changed to include different types of adoption. Some may be situations one would not typically think of as adoption.
Sometimes children/youth come into state custody due to abuse and neglect. Our staff work with the child and the parents with the goal of reunification whenever possible. If the child cannot return to his/her parents, other “forever parents” are sought:
• Relative Adoption: If you were a child placed in state custody due to abuse or neglect, would you want to be placed with someone you knew or someone you didn’t know? Most of us would resoundingly say, “Yes, I would want to be placed with someone I know.” Often children are placed with relatives such as grandparents, aunts/uncles, adult siblings, etc., who agree to take in the child in addition to their own children, or – in the case of grandparents – after they thought they were finished raising children.
• Foster Parent Adoption: Sometimes relatives of a child in state custody cannot be found or are unwilling or unable to take in the child. Foster parents licensed by the State of Missouri often take in children who need homes. The program arm of Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, MBCH Children and Family Ministries, manages the licenses of more than 200 foster parents across Missouri. When it has been determined the child is legally available for adoption, the foster parents will often adopt the foster child in their home.
These are two traditional ways adoption of a child occurs. But you can provide the ministry of adoption even if you can’t directly take a child into your home.
• Have you noticed a family in your church or community that seems to be struggling? You could decide to “adopt” that family. It may just be to talk to the parent and encourage him/her. You may have connections to help the parent find a job. Children in families that come from hard places need surrogate adults who can be like grandparents to them. Your involvement may help prevent that parent’s child from being placed in state custody!
• “Adopt” grandparents in your church or community who have made the sacrifice to adopt their grandchildren at a time in their lives when they thought their role was going to be grandparents, not become parents again. Often they just need a sounding board, but they may need some practical assistance too.
• You may be surprised to find out how many of your fellow church members are foster parents. Foster parents have made the decision to take a child or children into their home that they do not know, to care for as their own. Often the child is traumatized by past abuse and as a result may present challenging behaviors. You could choose to “adopt” one of these foster parents. Just telling a foster parent “thank you” means a lot. Sometimes foster parents need help with material items.
• Unfortunately, there are some youth who “age out” of the foster care system. While they may still receive assistance from the State, they are living on their own. Perhaps you could serve as a mentor to the youth or help provide furniture for an apartment. “Adopting” that youth to minister to him/her is a way you can be Christ’s hands and feet in this world.
There are many ways you can provide the ministry of adoption. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent we would like to talk with you. We may be able to provide the training and services you need to become licensed. If we cannot, we will point you to the agency that can. Please call us at 800-264-6224.
If your church is interested in learning how they can minister to children and families from hard places, please contact our Church Engagement Strategist, David Burch, at 417-380-1082.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.” Matthew 18:5.