A Way In
Although men sometimes find it hard to talk about personal relationships, fathers particularly have a lot to offer to shipwrecked families.
"We work really hard to recruit males," Garvin says.
And it's a win-win situation because the experience taps the hearts of the men as well as kids.
"Once they meet the children in this community, that child and that faith and that story gets embedded in the adult's life," Garvin says.
Organized programs, like Garvin's Royal Family Kids camps, can be a great place to start, but simply befriending foster and adoptive couples—offering to babysit or attend the kids' recitals and sports events—is another practical way to show support.
Individuals and churches can also seek to wrap around families by providing transitional services, as up to 30,000 kids "age out" of foster care each year after they turn 18 unless they continue their education. But with only a 50 percent high school graduation rate among them, few go to college, and high unemployment rates contribute to their becoming homeless or turning to crime.
As one solution to this transition challenge, Compact Family Services manages a 24-apartment home for aged-out foster kids who need a place to live while learning about life skills and job training.
"[The program] is replicable," Mooney says, "but you have to have a facility for it."
And then there are the college students catching the vision for the adoption mandate. Show Hope, an orphan care ministry based in Nashville and started by the Chapmans 10 years ago, hosts the "Red Bus Project," a mobile thrift store housed in a double-decker bus. It rolls onto college campuses with a festival atmosphere and an invitation for students to shop, learn about the ministry of Show Hope and donate gently used items to be resold. Proceeds are used for adoption grants.
"We need to put efforts forward to the next generation, raising awareness ... so the orphan cause is in their DNA," says Show Hope's executive director, Scott Hasenbalg.
Show Hope's grants have helped more than 4,000 people adopt children to date, though they've had to turn away more than 6,000 others because of limited funds. The ministry encourages students to find creative ways to raise support for the cause.
"Part of that entrepreneurial spirit ... is created for [students] to have an on-ramp and get a taste of what it means to help facilitate a life-changing event for others," Hasenbalg says.
More than 14,000 students have participated in Show Hope's programs to date. But like any cause, it's hard to tell if students and adults will adopt the mandate for the long haul.
"It'll go through a fad phase, but it'll separate itself out," Hasenbalg says. "The emotional response will only last so long. It'll take time for the mandate to truly seep in."
Only time will tell how this wave of volunteerism and cooperation will impact the culture of orphan care. But for every child and family who is touched by it, it creates whole worlds of change.
Anahid Schweikert is a frequent contributor to Charisma. She lives in Memphis, Tenn., with her husband and their two daughters, who were adopted from China.
Watch amazing stories of orphans whose lives have been changed by Christian families taking them in at orphancare.charismamag.com
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