As our family moves through the process of adoption I've spent a lot of time thinkging about how I am preparing my own heart for the changes that are ahead of us. And I have also been thinking about how I can help my children prepare. Really, the bottom line is, do I understand what it means to have compassion like Christ? Do I really see the needs in the world? Or am I only half looking because I don't really want to see? Am I willing to spend time thinking about things that make me uncomfortable? Because when I do see the hurt, and the need, and the ugly in the world it should move me. Move me to act. Move me to love. And if I take my eyes off of this then I loose the heart to endure the process of adoption. And if my children do not see the need in the world then how can I expect them to understand this adoption?
"When action meets compassion, lives change."
So I am trying to take this waiting period for us and spend it helping my children understand the need there is in this world. And help them to see that they can act with their hearts of compassion. As we've been working on this I've put together a list of 6 ways I can help my children learn compassion, and how to act on it. Not everyone is called to adopt. But we are all called to care for the orphans of the world. Time to teach them how while they are young.
- Allow them to see the way children live in other countries. You can find videos of children in orphanages on YouTube. And there are orphanages around the globe with Facebook pages. They post pictures of children and their living environments. (Please make sure you view before you show your children. We all know there is no guarantee that the content will be appropriate for your children.) Many children simply need to see this and they feel the need to act. My favorite YouTube channel is God's Littlest Angels in Haiti.
- Talk about, and pray for, children they know. They may not know children who are orphaned, but they most likely know children who do not have life as well as they do. Talk about them, listen to what your children think and say. And at the end of the conversation show the children how to take action by praying for them. Praying for specific needs for their friends.
- Help them see people in need where they live. For some children a video or a conversation isn't enough to help them really understand what it means to be in need. Many need to see it with their own eyes. If possible take your kids to places where they can volunteer. In large towns and cities you can usually find centers that help those who are in need. There may be donation centers, soup kitchens, and after school progams. But just like you would with the videos on YouTube, make sure you check it out first and know that it is a place that is safe for your children to visit.
- Donate books. I don't know about your children but mine have over and above what they could ever need. And as a former teacher that means an amazing supply of books. I recently found this organization called Orphans Treasure Box. It is a non-profit based in Illinois that accepts book donations, and then sells the books second-hand. Their proceeds help orphans and families that are adopting. There is a page on their website that tells where they are currently sending their money. And make sure your kids know where the money from the book sales will be going. It just may motivate them to give more.
- Support a Child. There are a few well known organizations out there who support children in need throughout the world, and they allow you to pick a child to support. Make it a family affair, all of you together deciding what child to financially support. You may be surprised to find out that your children are willing to donate a dollar or two each month to support the child. The best part is that your family can develop a relationship with the child you support. Your children can send pictures, drawings, cards, and small gifts to the child in need.
- Organize a drive. If your child is really motivated to act then you may want to consider organizing a drive of some kind. See if you can contact a missionary through your local church, and see what they can pass along to children where they live. Maybe it would be sending clothing, or school supplies. Or perhaps money is best. Your child can create posters and set up a time and place to drop off loose change for a coin drive, gently used clothing, or new school supplies. It doesn't have to be elaborate, with huge results. Just allowing your children to act on their desire will help them see they can make a difference. And the best part is you may get some pictures back from the missionary showing who your child was able to help!
May you be blessed today,