We gathered around the portraits. In the midst of a stormy night, seven adults from five different churches and two children stood, heads bowed and hearts poised toward heaven. The smiling children in the pictures sat on the altar ready to be counted, to be relieved of their burdens and trials. One by one we chose a child and prayed—for salvation, for a brave family willing to count the cost and adopt an orphan—this orphan—lost in a sea of orphans. Those seven faces represented the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care in the U.S.
This prayer vigil was one of many held this month in honor of National Foster Care Month, designed to bring awareness to the many children in the foster care system. Some of them await reunification with their parents while others need a forever family. Let me share a few facts from Cry of the Orphan with you.
- In the U.S., more than 400,000 children are in the foster care system.
- More than 100,000 children in the U.S. are waiting to be adopted.
- An estimated 28,000 each year will “age out” of the system at age 18 without an adoptive family.
- A child waiting to be adopted has been in foster care an average of 37 months.
- A child can wait five years or more to be adopted.
- Adoption from foster care is generally less than $500.
Many wonder how to help outside of adopting or becoming a foster care parent. Lawrence Bergeron in Journey to the Fatherless explains:
From my experience, one of the greatest problems that an adoptive or foster care family can face is isolation and the belief that no one in their local church cares for them or their situation. They often face great challenges when a child comes home with needs they have never faced before, when bills mount, things go wrong, and there is no one to turn to. It is paradoxical (although not surprising) that the families who can least afford financially to adopt often times do. The families that can well afford an adoption most often times do not (Christianson 2007). And yet both families can help each other. In doing so, the church is healthier and the Lord is glorified.Bergeron continues by emphasizing that these families need a support system surrounding the child and family within the framework of the church.
Join us this month as we continue to pray for the workers, the families, the children, and the church. Click here for the prayer guide written by Cry of the Orphan. It gives direction on how to pray. In addition, ask the Lord how you can practically help a fatherless child today.
Originally posted on Barb's blog In the Midst . . .