Everyone’s heard of adopting a child or adopting a pet, but have you ever heard of adopting a grandparent?
Don’t worry, Mike and Brenda Loeschmann and their children hadn’t heard of such a thing either – at least not until they did it. It all started when the family moved from Canada to England because of Mike’s work. They found themselves living in the same building as many people from their church, including an older couple that had only recently come to the faith.
The Loeschmanns were on a friendly basis with the older couple but they really didn’t have much to do with them until one day Brenda realized her daughters needed hand-knit sweaters for school and she didn’t have time to knit them. When the elderly woman heard of Brenda’s predicament, she quickly offered her services.
“Any wool you send me, I’ll knit,” the woman said. Brenda was a little hesitant at first about accepting the woman’s offer of help. However, necessity dictated it and she soon put the woman to work. Thus began a relationship that lasted throughout the time the Loeschmanns spent in England.
It started with weekly visits to the old couple’s apartment to check on the knitting progress and soon extended to sitting together at church, shopping together, and eventually having the couple stand in as grandparents for Mike and Brenda’s children on special occasions. Bonds between the older couple and the Loeschmann family continued to grow until Mike was eventually transferred to the United States.
The children were sad to leave their adopted grandparents, but they decided to adopt another older couple from their church once they moved to Kansas City. Sure enough, once in the States, the Loeschmanns soon developed a close relationship with an older couple that had lost contact with their own grandchildren through divorce.
“Here were two people who loved their grandchildren dearly, but couldn’t see them,” Brenda says.
As the relationship grew, the couple came to “Grandparents Day” at the children’s school, spent holidays with the Loeschmanns and helped out in emergencies. Of course, the Loeschmann children continued to visit their real grandparents, but it was still nice to have some substitutes when their real grandparents couldn’t be around.
“When you don’t have a family around you, you need somebody to fill in,” says Brenda.
Now that they’re back in Canada, the Loeschmans still keep in contact with their adopted grandparents and even visit them occasionally.
“It wasn’t just the children who benefited from the relationship,” Brenda says. “It was the whole family. There were many things in our work and ministry that we couldn’t have done without them.”
Ever thought of putting yourself up for adoption?
There may be a family like the Loeschmanns in your church right now who is in need of an older couple to take them under their wing. Perhaps they’re new to town, new to the church, or new to the faith. Have you ever considered how you might help out? If you’re thinking about doing it, keep the following in mind:
Assess your abilities – What do you have to offer a family in need of grandparents: Babysitting? Sewing? Baking? Household repairs? Transportation? Spiritual guidance? Moral support? Chances are you have more to offer than you think.
Assess your church – Do you know of any young families who do not have relatives nearby or whose relatives are unchurched? What sorts of physical or spiritual needs do these families have?
Take the initiative – Don’t wait for the families to make the first move. Let people know you’re available. You can do this by approaching the family directly, announcing it through your pastor or the church bulletin or even by starting up an “Adopt-a-Grandparent” ministry in your church. Your imagination is your only limit!
How You Can Make It Happen
Mike and Brenda Loeschmann didn’t intend to find adopted grandparents for their children; it just happened. Now they’ve put together a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing in thinking of how you can do the same.
Host a Grandparent Day at church. Invite all members of the church to a social time after church and hook up families through an event.
Put a note in the church bulletin. Strange things happen when God is in it.
Have a “Guess Who is Coming to Dinner” event. Ask people of the church to sign up to either host or go to someone’s home for a meal. A coordinator would then match up families for a meal.
Host a Grandparent Prayer Time. Many children do not know or have someone to pray for them. Having a planned time of prayer will bring believers closer together and lead those who need to seek God’s guidance on approaching a family about adoption.
Keep a positive attitude about the people God sends along in your life. You will always be surprised with the great gifts God has in store for you.