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 Welcoming Adopted
Dear Mama J, A couple in our church has been approved for the adoption of a child.The child may be an infant or perhaps older.Various groups in our church often give baby showers and provide meals for parents of babies born into our church family, but are there some special considerations we need to make for an adoption, especially if the child is not a newborn? May I. Enkwire Dear May, The addition of a child to a family is a time for celebration but also a time that is stressful whether the child is added through birth or adoption. If the child is not an infant, it can be very traumatic for him or her as well. My first suggestion would be for the church family to be very supportive of the prospective parents during this waiting period before the adoption. There is an abundance of paperwork, interviews and “red tape” before the approval; and then, there is the waiting for the selection of the child. This lengthy process can be daunting and discouraging, so positive support will be helpful to a couple who has already encountered a multitude of hurdles. It is important that the church family pray with and for the couple often, send them notes of encouragement, and be patient and yet excited about the arrival of the child. Every prospective parent will react to this waiting time in a different way, so be sensitive to what they may need by asking them or friends closest to them. If it is an international adoption, there will be even more paperwork and frustrating delays. Keep the encouragement flowing! Adoption can be very expensive and in some cases prohibitive for some people. Most of the expenses will not be covered by insurance as many births are. Your church might consider collecting monetary gifts to help the parents with fees and even airfare for an international trip, if one is necessary. After the arrival of the baby or child, it is very important for you to treat his or her arrival as you would a biological birth, even if the child is not an infant. However your church acknowledges and celebrates births would be the same for an adoption, showers, a bud vase in the church, meals to the home or other celebrations. Adoptive parents have told me that having their child’s arrival celebrated as a “natural” or “legitimate” way to grow a family is very important. At the same time, it is also unique in that often this child comes after an agonizing process of infertility. One adoptive mother gives the advice to others to refrain from suggesting that they may now “get pregnant” as if that is the outcome of adoption or perhaps a more desirable goal. If the child is older, they may not understand all that is happening to them. Show interest and love, but take the cues from the child or parents as to how to approach him or her. Another stranger asking to hold or hug the child in a strange environment may be too stressful and should be approached cautiously. At the same time, do not ignore the child, but give him or her time to “warm up” to the congregation. If your church has a parent/child dedication service, you will want to include the special circumstances of the child's addition to the family, but it should be mu c h like any other dedication serv i c e.The fact that the person(s) went to great lengths to become parents needs to be acknowledged. Be sure to offer your thanks to God for His working in bringing this special family together. To assist other people in your church, who may be struggling with the decision of whether to adopt, you might add resources to your church library. Books about adoption may be given in honor of families who have adopted children. Parents who have adopted could suggest web sites, provide a list of potential agencies, write their stories in a notebook or record it on a CD to be placed in the library. Thank you for being so sensitive to an often-overlooked ministry opportunity. Mama J

Produced by the Preschool & Children Ministry Team, Congregational Services Group,The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, 205 Convention Drive, Cary, NC 27511, (919)467-5100, (800)395-5102,

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