Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How Can the Church Help? Part 1

In a 2002 nationwide survey commissioned by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption reported that “When asked ‘where would you turn for information or advice about how to adopt,’ 52% of married couples indicated they would turn to their local church.” While churches were viewed as good sources before adoption, “The same survey showed that post adoption people were nearly twice as likely to turn to their local bookstore (20.5%) as they were to their pastor or local church (11%) for support or help in dealing with post-adoption issues.”* The explanation for this discrepancy is that high percentage did not feel as though the church was helpful to their needs. In fact, they did not see the church as a “safe place” for their families. Ministry leader Michael Monroe put it this way:

I believe that adoptive and foster families are making it clear – they are saying that far too often our local churches are not “safe” places for them – or at least not as “safe” as they can and should be. The unavoidable reality is that many families have responded in faith by pursuing adoption or foster care, sometimes against all odds and in the face of significant and daunting challenges. Simply put, these families have refused to “play it safe.” They’ve said “Yes!” to the lifelong journey of adoption or foster care . . . and I believe that our churches must in turn discover how to honor these responses of faith, obedience and courage by becoming communities that openly welcome, truly understand and fully embrace adoptive and foster families.*

Monroe suggested that the church must do five things in order to become safe places for adoptive families: Become Missional, Become Open and Willing to Learn, Become Honest and Prepared to Get Messy, Become Willing to Change, Become Committed for the Long Haul.

For those of you who have adopted or are seeking to adopt:  How has your local church family supported you?  What do you wish church leaders knew about adoption?

*Monroe, Michael http://tapestry.irvingbible.org/index.php?id=1558  accessed February 6, 2010


  1. Thanks for that timely message. In the past, I could characterize my church as "unsafe" because of inconsiderate remarks made by congregants, as well as some from the pulpit. I get it that people don't understand the hurt they cause, but it's time to wake up and turn this thing around.

  2. Knowing our child had special needs as a foster child, before adoption, had we gone to our church for support we would not have had it. We relied totally on the Lord and His leading. Even our family was against us on this. We do feel we are missionaries. God has a special mission for us concerning this child and has put her in our care for a reason. We have learned so much these past five years because of her, we have been so blessed! The church has changed, the people have changed because of her, they have learned, also, because of her.

  3. Hi there! Saw your link on Moms Together and wanted to connect directly. I've got four girls, two adopted from foster care and I completely go with the findings you reported. Another friend recently posted on the fact that most churches don't handle "sad people" well... and adoptive families kinda tend to fall into that category because they're built on loss. I would love to see the world church be ready to be messy. To stop idealizing the process and those who go through it (since it makes us feel like we can't get mad or grieve since we're "such good people!" :P)

    It's wonderful to connect with you. Looking forward to getting to know you... I've subscribed, so I'll be back.

    See you on Moms Together!

  4. Hi Laurie! Thanks for the connection. I love your comment, especially where you talk about wanting to see "the world church be ready to be messy." I can also relate to people idealizing the process. I had a conversation about this recently with another adoptive mother.

    Your comments triggered a thought. When Don and I were facing a difficult time in the adoption process and didn't know if we were going to be able to bring Melinda home, people didn't know how to interact with us (especially our church family). I liken it to someone who has just lost a family member and no one knows how to act or what to say.

    Thanks for stopping by.
    Barb :-)