November is a busy month as we celebrate Thanksgiving and as many of us begin to plan for Christmas. It is also a month in which many people take the time to learn about the needs of vulnerable children and how we, as Christians, are called to meet those needs.
November is not only National Adoption Month, but it also celebrates World Adoption Day, Orphan Sunday, and Stand Sunday. Each of these “events” provides opportunities for churches to raise awareness of the needs of children, and each provides opportunities for churches to share ways individual Christians, or entire churches, can get involved in meeting those needs.
National Adoption Month
National Adoption Month traces its roots to 1976, when Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis created an Adoption Week to raise awareness of the need for families to adopt waiting children in foster care. In 1984, President Reagan declared the first National Adoption Week, which President Clinton expanded to National Adoption Month in 1995.
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, National Adoption Month “seeks to increase national awareness of adoption issues, bring attention to the need for adoptive families for teens in the U.S. foster care system, and emphasize the value of youth engagement.” The choice to focus on teens is due to the fact that teens in foster care generally wait longer for adoptive families and are at a higher risk of aging out of the system without loving, permanent families. Sadly, without families, many of these young adults will struggle in life.
National Adoption Month is a great time for churches to recognize and share stories from families who have adopted from foster care, and commit to supporting those adoptive families as they parent their children, many of whom have experienced loss and trauma in their young lives.
Churches can also talk about the importance of adoption, and God’s heart for vulnerable children, from a biblical standpoint, and encourage families to prayerfully consider opening their homes to children who need families, and their hearts to biological parents who have lost their children to the foster care system.
You can read more about National Adoption Month here.
World Adoption Day
If you’ve spent time on social media in past Novembers, you may well have seen smiling people holding up their hands with small happy faces on their palms. Those happy faces have become the symbol of World Adoption Day, which has been recognized annually since 2014. According to their website, “The day was created for the purpose of celebrating family, raising awareness for adoption and raising funds to support families in the adoption journey.”
A wonderful way for churches and individuals to recognize World Adoption Day is by taking up a special collection and donating it to the Anglican Adoption Fund, (formerly the Anglican Chaplains Adoption Fund), through which Anglican couples can apply for adoption grants to help them offset the costs related to adoption. You can learn more about the fund by clicking here.
World Adoption Day is November 9. You can learn more about World Adoption Day here.
Each year, churches all over the world set aside the second Sunday in November to raise awareness of the needs of orphans, and the ways churches and individual Christians can meet those needs. Orphan Sunday began 20 years ago at a small church in Zambia, when a pastor of a poverty-stricken church asked his congregation to give on behalf of orphans and widows. From these humble beginnings, a movement started. Starting in 2009, Orphan Sunday became an initiative of the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO), which provides coordination and leadership to the event. This year, Orphan Sunday will be observed on November 13.
There are many ways your church can participate in Orphan Sunday. The official website has an abundance of resources, including a variety of ideas for church and lay leaders on how to get your church engaged.
If you’d like to learn more about Orphan Sunday, and get some ideas for your church, click here.
Observed on the same Sunday as Orphan Sunday, Stand Sunday presents an opportunity for churches to raise awareness specifically for the needs of children in the United States foster care system, as well as ways churches and individual Christians can meet those needs.
Stand Sunday began in 2004 when Bishop Aaron Blake, inspired by his own experiences as a foster dad, and led by the Holy Spirit, shared with his congregation about the number of children in foster care in Texas and the United States. He asked, “Who will stand with me to defend, care, and support abused, abandoned, and neglected children in our community?” Though he wasn’t expecting a verbal response, a single lady in the back of the church stood and said, “Pastor, I will.” In the ensuing years, hundreds of children in foster care have been cared for and adopted by members of that church and the local community.
In 2017, according to the CAFO website, “Stand Sunday officially merged with Orphan Sunday. Orphan Sunday holds the purpose of inviting the global church to care for vulnerable children and families worldwide. Stand Sunday holds the purpose of calling the US church to stand and collaborate for vulnerable children and families touched by the foster care system.”
As with Orphan Sunday, there are many ways your church can recognize Stand Sunday. The website is a great place to get ideas. Just click here.
At Anglicans For Life, we hope and pray you and your church will take time out of your busy schedules to prayerfully consider the needs of vulnerable children and families worldwide and/or in your own community, and will take steps to answer God’s call to meet those needs. We are here to help. If you’d like to learn more about how your church can get involved, in November and beyond, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.