Eight steps a congregation can take to support families who adopt older and special needs children Print
  1. Educate your faith community about the unique nature of older children's adoptions and special needs adoptions. Other families in the church may need help to know how to support a new adoptive family, and they may discover that they are ready too to respond to children who need families.
    1. Encourage adoptive families to share their stories
    2. Seek out Christians who have been involved in facilitating such adoptions in your area and invite them to speak in your church
    3. Contact the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for information that can be distributed in your church.
    4. Contact Presbyterians Pro-Life for information on adoption.
    5. Invite someone in your community who is an expert on such adoptions to provide an adult Sunday School class about the subject
    6. Contact your local Department of Human Services for information to include in bulletin inserts and/or newsletters
  2. Offer support to the family prior to the child's arrival. This is not the arrival of a baby, but you can encourage the family with your own excitement about the coming of a new child into the community of the church as well as into the family's home.
    1. Gather clothing the child may need
    2. Assist the family in preparing the child's bedroom (other children may give gifts such as teddy bears, posters, etc.)
    3. Provide a bike, rollerblades, sled, etc. (Many older children have never had their own personal items before.)
  3. Welcome and embrace the child into your church family. In very homey ways you can make the child feel that he or she belongs.
    1. Take time to introduce yourself to the child
    2. Make a point of asking the child about himself or herself: what he or she likes to do, favorite foods and activities. Avoid questions about the child's past; remember that he or she is beginning a new life.
  4. Celebrate the adoption. The church can help the family know that this child has become a part of the covenant community:
    1. Acknowledge the adoption in worship
    2. Offer a special "adoption" shower, regardless of the child's age (most older children being adopted have missed out on special occasions just for them).
    3. Dedicate the fellowship hour in honor of the family.
  5. Teach the child a special skill. Older and special needs children may not have had a lot of personal attention as they were growing up:
    1. Offer to make, bake or build something with the child (generally, older children who are adopted have not been offered as many opportunities as other children)
    2. Take the child fishing, swimming, biking, etc.
    3. Any opportunity to help a child is an important one.
  6. Help families celebrate special occasions. Remember that this family is creating new memories for the child. Help make them extra-special.

  7. Give the parents a break. Adoption of an older or special needs child places adjustment pressures on a family that the church family can help bear:
    1. Offer to make supper for the family
    2. Provide the parents with a night out
    3. Plan an activity night with the child(ren); let the parents relax at home
    4. Spend time helping the child with homework
  8. Nurture the child in the faith:
    1. Make sure the child has an age-appropriate Bible
    2. Tell the child your faith story
    3. Encourage the child in his or her own faith
    4. Remember this is God's child and he has called this child by NAME!