Rethinking Orphan Sunday

Hi friends, welcome guest blogger Charisa Knight. I met this kindred spirit at the Winsome Retreat last April where we joined a panel speaking on the subject of adoption under the category of social justice. Charisa is the hands and feet of Jesus supporting adoption, the restoration of family and caring for orphans. Read on for her insightful take on Orphan Sunday (November 2).

Orphan Sunday

When you hear those two words what comes to mind?

In 2008,  adoption would have been the first word to jump into mine.  This is the year that Ab came into our family.

Then sponsorship.  Greg and I were also part of a ministry in Zambia that consisted of sponsorship for school.

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Fast forward to 2014.  One more adoption. Several years advocating in various ways for different ministries or organizations.  Now directing Project HOPEFUL’s Awassa initiative.

I have learned that “orphan care” is sooo much more than what I originally thought.  Much more than adopting or school sponsorship —though that’s part of it.

Orphan care, to me, now begins before anyone is brought to an orphanage and before any parent has to go through a heart-wrenching relinquishment process.  The majority of the orphan care we are involved in now is preventing those children from being relinquished. Advocating and seeking help to keep families together.  So many families WANT to raise their children—the problem is they see no way to do that. They have no hope.  We have watchedProject HOPEFUL Awassa families provide for their children and be full of life and joy with just a little bit of help.  Help that ultimately we hope will lead to independence.

Like this brother who stepped up to take care of his 2 sisters and little brother when their parents died.  Why? Because that’s what you do he said. “There is no alternative.”

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Orphan care  now is supporting the in country staff who make reunification possible for families by offering them support and help where needed.  Seeing a child being placed back into the arms of his father….

Orphan care consists of supporting those in country who are taking care of children until families are found.

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Orphan care now means supporting domestic adoption and foster care. in the states and in Ethiopia where we work.  There is this myth that those in other countries don’t want to take care of their “own”

But just last week I saw this…. 14 families in Awassa, Ethiopia who stepped up to love children. And there has been even more than this. I love it.

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Orphan Care means providing clean water to children and families who desperately need it.  This changes lives dramatically.

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Orphan Care also consists  of providing businesses for women so that they can financially support themselves and their children.  They want to work and provide on their own. They just need a little boost. Then you get to see the reward in their smiles.

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Orphan Care can mean building a home for a mom who had the validated fear of hyenas coming in to get her children at night.  And then you hear the heartbreaking words, “I am now a human again.”

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Orphan care can mean supporting adoptive/fostering families during the process and after they have adopted. Sharing in their concerns. Praying for each other. Loving each other. And maybe being quite silly together. 😉

It may be driving almost 3 hours to celebrate with a baby shower (at a wine/cheese bar 🙂 perk for adoption showers!) for a momma to be through domestic adoption.

As you can see my definition of “orphan care” has broadened greatly.  I am sure it will broaden even more as I experience more.

I challenge everyone to think outside of the typical box and to support children and families in areas that cause children to become orphans.   HIV education. Malaria training and nets. Medical support. Food support.  The child we are a FIG family sponsor for we chose because it was the same situation as our adopted son. (and she reminded me so much of him!) I told her mom just last week as I sat in her home…. I don’t want you to have to make the choice my son’s mom did. I want you to be able to raise your daughter.

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Orphan care can be so much more than helping after the fact. Let’s jump in help at the beginning of the crisis—not waiting until the end when it feels like there are no options left.

I would love to help you become more involved in orphan care.

You can learn more about us at www.projecthopeful.org/awassa or email me atcharisa@projecthopeful.org

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