Over the last 15 years, Hope for Orphans has had the privilege of serving local church orphan ministries throughout the United States. In addition to seeing the launch of thousands of orphan ministries, we have also witnessed the significant escalation of unmet needs for local churches and their families.
Hope for Orphans conducted a survey of almost 200 of our network’s orphan ministry leaders to learn about the greatest unmet needs they are facing right now. Below are the top five needs from that survey and their implications for churches.
Who were we surveying? The typical adoption/orphan leader in our survey was a theologically conservative woman. 80% of participants have adopted children in their own families. These are leaders who have walked the walk.
The results mirrored what Hope for Orphans has seen in ministering to families: too many adoptive families are struggling because of a lack of gospel-driven support to address post-placement challenges. Churches are struggling to provide pre-adoption and certainly post-adoption education, let alone provide effective wrap-around support for those bringing high-risk children into their homes. We hope this survey will help as you think through your goals for your adoption ministry this year.
#5: Gospel-Centered Parenting Resources: 48% of the leaders in our survey report a need for gospel-centered parenting resources. While there are many excellent secular resources on child development and attachment theory, the leaders in Bible-believing churches recognize a need for parenting models that are gospel-driven as well as science-driven.
#4: Parenting Special-Needs Children: 75% of surveyed leaders stated that there’s a growing need for resources and support for parents with special-needs children. Not only is there a growing number of children with physical disabilities, but also with neurological damage.
#3: Foster Care Ministry in the Local Church: As international adoption has continued to dramatically decline due to the closing of participating countries, foster care ministry is growing. There are over 400,000 children in the American foster care system. Those working with foster kids confirm that in many cases, these children have experienced significant neglect or trauma or both. How the church prepares and supports foster families is a priority need. In fact, 79% of our survey responders said it is either very much a need or a growing need.
#2: Spiritual Warfare in Adoption: Russell Moore in his book Adopted for Life, makes an eloquent argument for why demons hate adoption. Dr. Moore points out that every child is a reminder to evil forces that their doom was sealed by the birth of one child, a child they desperately tried to kill as an infant. Likewise, when a child is adopted into a Christian family, we would argue that it is the visible manifestation of the gospel. So it is no surprise that 40% of our leaders listed dealing with spiritual warfare as a top priority. This topic is rarely discussed in adoption conferences, but adoptive families will tell you it is real. Sometimes what is thought to be primarily a developmental or neurological issue can in fact be a stronghold of spiritual warfare. To fight a supernatural enemy, you need supernatural weapons.
#1. Building Support for Adoptive Families in The Local Church: A whopping 86% of all those surveyed said that this is a need in their church. Some experts now believe that up to 25% of all adoptions this year will ultimately fail. The pace of relinquishment-based second adoptions is growing at an alarming rate. This is the greatest unspoken crisis in the evangelical adoption movement. If you look back through the previous four needs, you can see a direct correlation to this need. Local ministry leaders are telling us we need to prepare families before adoption in this new adoption environment of 2017. We need tools that can support families after adoption that will cover topics like spiritual warfare, educational strategies for special needs kids, and what does it mean to be a safe church for families in post placement crisis. And we need flexible and clear resources to meet these needs whether through digital or in-person training.
At Hope for Orphans we went to work to directly address these findings. We recently released our new 13-part video on-demand parenting resource along with a companion study book for churches, adoption agencies, counseling centers, and individual families. You can learn more at hopefororphans.org/rooted
Are you thinking about coming to The Gospel Coalition conference? If so, you can use our promo code ORPHANS to receive $20 off your registration. Once you’re at the conference, stop by the Hope for Orphans booth to learn about more resources and opportunities. We will also be announcing an HFO event at the conference featuring Paul David Tripp. To stay in the loop, sign up for our newsletter here: