Survey Reveals Adoptive Families Need More Support from their Churches
What are churches doing about orphan ministry? What needs and opportunities do the women leaders in gospel-driven churches see in the growing adoption and foster care movement?
Last summer, Hope for Orphans had the opportunity to participate in the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference in Indianapolis. The Gospel Coalition (TGC) is a catalytic network representing about 7,800 churches with significant influence on reformed millennial and next-generation leaders in the Church. Women from all 50 states (plus 39 other countries) came to TGC’s 2016 Women’s Conference, which gave us an exciting chance to learn how evangelical women are thinking about adoption and orphan ministry.
Over the course of the conference, our team interviewed 63 women on a variety of subjects. Here’s what we learned:
These women are deeply invested in orphan ministry
Here are a few of the key findings from our survey:
- 32% of those interviewed were adoptive moms or foster moms
- 27% of those interviewed report that they are currently a leader in their church’s adoption, foster-care, or direct orphan-care ministry
- 55% of these women are currently seriously considering adopting or engaging in foster care
These results are consistent with what we have seen across many evangelical networks. Millennial women leaders see the church’s role in adoption, foster care, and orphan care as a very significant channel of ministry from a biblical worldview. And they live this perspective out, as demonstrated by how over half of these women were seriously weighing bringing a child into their own home.
These women are often disappointed by how their churches are equipping them for gospel-driven orphan ministry
While the women we surveyed were deeply engaged in orphan ministry, their churches often were not. Our interviewees reported that 83% of their home churches do not really have a sustainable orphan, adoption or foster-care ministry.
This statistic is particularly troubling when 66% of these interviewees reported that their churches have adoptive families that are struggling post placement. If this reflects the greater evangelical local church experience, this represents a serious unmet need. It may also show that a lack of recognition: churches may not know about the growing number of families in post-placement crisis, or they may not know how to help and support these families. Furthermore, 85% of women in the survey said that their church needs more gospel-driven resources for supporting and helping families parenting at-risk adoptive or foster children. (If that describes your church, we’d encourage you to check out our new resource ROOTED which includes teachers like Paul Tripp and Voddie Baucham and child-wellness experts like Dr. Jon Bergeron of Austin Stone Counseling and Dr. Larry Bergstrom of the Mayo Clinic).
We also found that 86% of these women’s churches do not provide any equipping of children or students in gospel-driven orphan ministry. Resources bringing vision and methods for children to be kingdom entrepreneurs is a huge opportunity for reinforcing a view of missions in the church and helping children to see the connection between physical orphans and spiritual orphans, and Hope for Orphans is working on new resources in response to this opportunity.