Whether you're an adoptive parent or not... whether you're a foster parent or not.. you can invest in the future of adoption and foster care by taking a few actions with your children today.
Some of these are subtle, but can help create a generation of children who decide that they will be the last generation to know what an orphan is in the world.
Open Door Policy - be the household on the block where all the kids come and hang. Create an atmosphere where children are welcome -- not just the popular kids, but all kids.
Your Children Are Important - be sure they know that each and every day. Some parents dismiss kids in important conversations. Take the time to value what your children have to say and let them know that you don't discount their opinions just because of their age.
Be a Global Parent - It's not easy for whole families to travel around the world, but travel (on any scale) broadens the mind. Expose your family to new ideas about the world. Plan family time once a month to watch a documentary (please... no reality shows) on a different culture. If you do get a chance to travel, take a look at a few cultural highlights on the way to Disney. Use these experiences to engage your children on what it's like to live in another culture or a different part of the world.
Read - If you read, they read. It's a basic formula. Try picking up a book on a different culture and use it for discussions around the dinner table. Find books for your kids on different cultures - age appropriate of course. As a kid, one of my favorite books was "Island Boy" about a young boy growing up in Hawaii. I found the culture fascinating.
Compassion - Be a parent of compassion for other children. Support a child or a program in a different part of the world. It could just be $10 a month! But imagine the difference it makes in the life of a child in another country. And over time, see what a difference it makes in the lives of your own children. Get them involved in learning about the culture or cultures your favorite charity represents. I'm biased, of course, but Orphan World Relief would be a great starting point! Regardless, involve your children in the decision and be sure that when you write the check each month, you talk about it as a family and engage with your own children about something they've learned about another culture.
Involve Children in Supporting Causes - Find a cause locally or internationally you believe in and work with your children to make a difference. Do an annual garage sale and give the money to a charity of your children's choosing supporting kids (locally or globally). Have them come up with their own ideas of how they can support a cause.
Learn a Language - Enroll the family in a language course where you can learn together (don't be too concerned if your kids do better than you). Connecting with another language helps connect you with a different culture. The younger your children are exposed to languages, the easier it will be for them to learn languages later in life when they need to in high school or college.
Eat food from other Cultures - Even if it's just grabbing tacos, take the time to engage with the food of another culture. Try and find a local restaurant and not a chain with people working their from other cultures. It's probably easier than you may think! Research the food. Learn where it comes from and talk with your children about ways you can make it at home.
Talk with Your Children - Every idea has one central theme: conversation. Engage your children in conversation... talk about other people groups. Help your kids talk about the differences and similarities of others. Try to help them become better world travelers by calling out things that don't make sense in our own culture as "different" rather than passing judgement by saying something is "stupid". Pose questions to your children to help them think through why something might be the way it is... and then research the truth!
Volunteer with Others Less Fortunate - There will always be children who need a mentor. Sign up to be a big brother or a big sister. Spend time with your nieces and nephews. Help a single parent out at Church by befriending them and their children.
Even if you do all of these things, there are no guarantees that your kids will decide to adopt or foster other children. They learn by what you do. Consider making room for one more child in your home through adoption. But even if you cannot adopt, you can help prepare your children to be better world citizens by following some of these simple ideas.
It doesn't cost anything but time and a little creativity.
Be a global hero to your children by making them global heroes in their own right.
More blog posts about orphans, adoption and life:
Annaleece Merrill
Lots of really great points here! Thanks for sharing!