Sponsoring a child in need at Christmastime is a wonderful family serving opportunity. It’s a chance to make Christmas about giving and serving and it allows us to be the hands and feet of Christ at Christmastime.
If you are sponsoring a foster child with Act Together Ministries this Christmas, here are some tips to get your children involved:
Consider Sponsoring a Child Around the Same Age as Yours– When you register to sponsor a child, you can request a child the same age and gender as your own. Please note that as the season goes on, the ability to make specific requests will diminish as the kids are matched with sponsors. Sign up early (in October or early November) to ensure you will be matched with a child around your child’s age.
Pray for the Child- Once you receive the information about your assigned child, share the information with your children and begin including your sponsored child in your family prayers.
Point Out Similarities– Help your child relate to the child you are sponsoring by pointing out similarities. Perhaps they both like the color red or maybe they enjoy the same sport.
Talk About the Difficulties this Child May Face– Help your child to realize how difficult it is for this child to be away from their parents or how it might be hard to share your parents (if your child is a foster sibling.) If the information you receive about your sponsored child says your child struggles with their behavior, is angry, keeps wetting the bed, is not doing well in school, or doesn’t trust others; share with your child how these children have a lot of overcome and how their behavior relates to their situation. Perhaps they were abandoned by a parent and this affects their ability to trust others. Maybe they weren’t able to get much sleep because their parents were fighting and this caused them to get behind in school. They might be angry because they miss their mother or they are upset with a parent who is incarcerated. They may have experienced something that leaves them fearful and causes them to wet the bed at night.
Help your child develop empathy by asking them to imagine what this child might be feeling and ask them how they would feel in these situations. Help them to understand that all children do not live in the same type of homes.
Avoid judging the parents. While in many cases, the parents should have made better choices, there is often a reason behind their behavior as well. Keep the entire family in your prayers as these struggles often pass from one generation to the next.
Explain Foster Children and Foster Homes– Help your child to understand that sometimes children have to stay with someone else because their mom or dad are unable to care for them. Their parents may not have the financial means to support their child or meet their needs. Other children are removed from their homes because of addiction, parent’s poor or abusive choices, a parent has been sent to prison, etc. Despite what a parent has done- even if they’ve abused their child- all children love and want to be with their parents. Being away from their parents is difficult and some of the children have been separated from their siblings as well.
When a child is removed from their home, they are placed in a foster or group home. A foster home is when they are placed with another family, sometimes a relative or perhaps a single parent. This parent is their “foster mother” or “foster father” and any other children who live in that home are their “foster siblings.” A group home is a modern day orphanage. These homes may house as many as 40+ children and teens. The adults who live and work there are the group home parents.
Get Your Child Involved in Selecting Gifts– Share with your child about your sponsored child’s interests and ask them what they think the child would like for Christmas. Take them shopping and allow them to pick out gifts for your sponsored child. If you shop online, show them some options and allow them to select the gifts.
Prepare Your Gifts– Look at your gifts and ask your child to imagine your sponsored child with the gifts. “Do you think this will make her smile on Christmas morning?” “Christmas might be hard for him this year but we want to make sure he has some gifts to let him know he’s loved and not forgotten.” Explain how you and being Jesus’ Hands and Feet to this child. Through you, Jesus is providing gifts for the child you are sponsoring. Read the directions you received in your e-mail about wrapping and labeling the gifts. Pray over the gifts and remember to pray for your child on Christmas morning.
Don’t Let Your Giving Stop at Christmas– Make giving and serving a part of your home all throughout the year. There are many opportunities. Through Act Together Ministries, you can provide Easter baskets, shoes, clothing, school supplies and more. Also, get out and volunteer as a family. Make the world a better place- one random act of kindness at a time. It’s amazing what we can do when we act together!