Homes for Hope was started at North Side in 2010. After a message on orphan care in December 2009, we were overwhelmed with the response of families wanting to help out. The interest was so great that Jeff Lethco told me to figure out a way to organize this so we can help people regularly. The mission behind Homes for Hope is to make orphan care simple. If you have ever attempted to get through the paperwork attached to orphan care, you understand that sounds like an absurd statement. We can’t make orphan care easy, but we can make it simple. Our goal as a ministry is to provide logical steps in the 5 major ways to get involved.
James 1:27 commands us to care for orphans: “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress…” There are many ways to help rescue the 143,000,000 orphans in the world. Here’s how our church is assisting people:
1. DOMESTIC ADOPTION
Adopting Children Within the United States – If you are interested in adopting children within the United States, you can choose to use a private agency or DSS. A private agency would require fees, where adoption through DSS would not. We have church members who have either adopted through or work at private agencies and DSS.
2. INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION
Adopting Children Outside the United States – The numbers are staggering. The orphans in other countries rise by the day. Due to disease, war, and famine, the sheer number of orphans without food, water, immunizations, shelter, and love is overwhelming. My son, Eli, was born in Ethiopia where in that country alone, 5 million orphans are waiting for care. 5 million children in just one country are orphans!
3. FOSTER CARE
Providing Temporary Homes for Children – The goal of foster care is to reunite children with their families. When DSS takes a child into custody, homes are needed to provide temporary help for these children. In cases where it is not in the child’s best interest to return to their parents, the child is able to be adopted. Many families begin to provide foster care and later decide they want to adopt the child that has been under their care. The foster family would have first right to adopt that child.
4. RESPITE CARE
Providing Support for Foster Homes – Respite care is providing support for either foster homes or foster children. 1) You can provide support for the families by being licensed to babysit children in a foster home to give those parents extra help, or 2) You can take children into your home for special occasions or frequent visits. Think about this: families who provide foster care cannot get help through the neighborhood babysitter due to all the governmental restrictions. To help with respite care, you still have to go through a lot of paperwork and screening, but you can provide support for those homes or those children.
5. FINANCIAL SUPPORT
Providing Assistance to Adoptive Families – If you decide to adopt outside of DSS, you must consider finances. Some of you may be in a stage of life where you are not able to help out in one of these other four areas, but that may mean that God is calling you to provide for other families who can. Some of you feel God’s call but are concerned about the finances. This is where the Body of Christ can get to work to help one another. We have setup a partnership with Lifesong – an organization mean to screen families and distribute a church’s finances to deserving families. We knew that screening our own church members and delving into personal finances and such is not always a welcomed idea, so this Christian organization will handle all of that delicate information and work with us to provide financial support to these families.
HOW CAN THE CITY HELP?
In the first year of our existence, we have realized the need for ongoing support and interaction between similar homes. Whether you need emotional support, practical advice, networking opportunities, clothes for a certain child, toys that you can loan, etc., the City can provide all of that! We have created a group on the City called Homes for Hope where anyone in any of these categories can share topics, events, needs, prayers, or albums.
Let’s say that your family just welcomed a 6 year old foster child into your home for an undetermined amount of time, instead of buying a whole new wardrobe and getting age-appropriate toys, we can come together and meet needs within this group. All you would have to do is go on the group and start a need with your specifics and someone can come to your aid.
Or maybe you are unsure to help a defiant teenager in your home? You are probably not the only one who has gone through this. You can set up a topic and let other parents give you their advice and support.
WHAT AM I GETTING INTO?
One of the most widespread fears of orphan care is that people are unsure of what “they are getting themselves into” with a child of unknown history. Even if parents believe in the power of nurture, they may still have concern concerning the effect that nature had on the child. Did the biological parents pass bad traits down to that child? Have they experienced something that may make them difficult to raise?
But does a parent of a child really know what they “are getting” even with a biological child? There are surprises at every turn. The only parent who really knows what he is getting into is God.
In Galatians 4:1-7, Paul speaks of God adopting us into our family. God’s situation is different than ours. He is completely aware of our nature and nurture. He not only knows our genes, he made them. He is aware of where people have hurt us in the past and he is aware of where we have hurt others. He is fully knowledgeable concerning our troubled condition, and yet he still chooses us to adopt us.
In adoption circles, it is understood that the older a child gets, the less likely they will be adopted. The reason being is that the longer they are in an orphanage, the more bad habits they can develop. They have a longer history of neglect which can lead to issues. Due to these factors, those children with a more complex history rarely have someone choose to adopt them because of the accompanying challenge.
And yet, that is exactly what God did for us. He knows every bit of our history. He is aware of our challenges, failures, heartaches, addictions, anger, immorality, and emotions. And yet, instead of turning away and labeling us as damaged goods, he reaches down and loves us fully aware of what “he is getting into.”
Today, be thankful that we have a Father who is aware of how much trouble we as children can be, yet he still loves us anyway. And maybe the best way to thank him is to love a child the way he has loved us.