10 Ways to Choose Which Child to Sponsor

You want to sponsor a child, but you don’t know where to begin.

“Exactly how does one go about choosing a child?”

It is a daunting prospect when you consider the impact your sponsorship will have on the child and the child’s family. How do you choose whom to help and whom someone else must help?

Here are 10 suggestions:

1. Choose by country.

Is there a particular location you are interested in? Is God repeatedly drawing your heart to a certain region? If so, you may want to choose a child by country. Compassion works in 25 countries around the world. Warning: Whichever country you choose, you will come to care for it deeply. Drought in Ethiopia, hurricanes in Haiti, flooding in Bangladesh — these will no longer be just headlines in a newspaper for you. Your heart will be tied to that part of the world.

2. Choose a child who has been waiting the longest.

There are children who have been waiting patiently for months, hoping and praying that the Lord will bring them a sponsor. Are you the answer to their prayers? Go to our website and look for photos with a red heart. These children have been waiting 6 months or longer for a sponsor.

3. Consider a child who is mentally or physically challenged.

Do you have a heart for children living with a medical condition? Perhaps it is a population you work with. Consider taking your ministry global and sponsor a child who is mentally or physically challenged.

Your sponsorship will help that child access treatment and support. Your letters and prayers will bring him or her hope. Go to the Sponsor a Child section on the website and click on Advanced Search to locate one of these children.

4. Let your kids pick.

When many of us talk about sponsorship, one of the things we point out is how it has transformed the lives of our kids. Our kids have learned caring, sharing and empathy. They’ve learned to write letters. Sponsorship has piqued their interest in the world around them.

Give your children ownership in the sponsorship process. Let them choose. The thought and care they put into that decision just may surprise you.

5. Talk to a Compassion Advocate.

Roughly 2,500 sponsors have taken their commitment to Compassion to the next level and become Advocates. Advocates plan and assist at events where they share Compassion and encourage people to sponsor.

Advocates have access to child packets and they may know of a child whose packet has repeatedly not been chosen. They are praying for sponsors for these children.

Talk to an Advocate and see if they have a child on their prayer list. There are many Compassion Advocates who post on this blog. Seek them out. Or call us and ask for an Advocate in your area.

6. Find a child who shares your birthday.

My neighbor kids come over at least once a week and ask me to look up the Compassion kids who are born on their birthdays. It’s a special link they have to a person in another part of the world. Kids think it’s cool to share a birthday — your Compassion kid will, too. Use the Advanced Search function to search by birth date.

7. Choose by age.

Are you interested in corresponding with an older child? Perhaps you want someone who is close in age to one of your own kids.

Compassion allows you to search by age.

Use the Advanced Search function or the age range drop-down arrow on the Sponsor a Child page.

8. Browse the website.

Compassion has hundreds of photos of waiting children loaded onto our website. Many people come to the website simply to look around and learn about the program.

Then they see that one particular child whom they just can’t forget. A sponsor is born. Look around a bit. You may find a child who grabs your heart.

9. Let Compassion decide.

If you are ready to sponsor but prefer not to choose, Compassion will select a child for you.

Compassion’s toll free number is (800) 336-7676. A customer care representative is there and ready to help. Or go to the website and choose the “Select a Child for Me” option.

10. Pray, pray and pray some more.

Isn’t it ultimately God who leads us down the right path? Pray for guidance. Pray that God will bring you to that one child whom you are perfectly and ideally able to love, nurture and encourage.

My hope is that one day you will meet your sponsored child. And when you do, perhaps he or she will ask,

“Why did you choose me?”

Have you written a blog about how your Compassion kids came into your life? Please link it here and share your experience with others.

We originally published this post on May 17, 2011.

55 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Beatriz Moguel December 5, 2014

    I love to think we are stretching love lines from any part of the World to the other side, then go and come back, join in some point and go again, making a huge love net to cover all over the Globe! I believe that this is a beautiful and shiny net, that God loves to watch from the very High.

  2. JD Last January 14, 2014

    It’s not a number, it’s an orphan status indicator (the letter O), referring to the child having lost one or both parents.

  3. JD Last January 14, 2014

    The O appearing in a blue shape on the child sponsorship photo is not a zero, it’s the letter O for orphan, indicating that this precious child has lost one or both parents.

  4. Kal January 14, 2014

    This question may seem unrelated, but my child had a number, 0 (zero), in the lower corner of his photo just before I sponsored him. After I became his sponsor, the zero disappeared. What is the significance of the zero?

    1. Susan Sayler January 14, 2014

      Hi Kal! I’m sorry but I’m not sure what number you are referring to. Sometimes if a child is located in an HIV/AIDS affected area (a ribbon), is in an area with high risk of exploitation(a blue symbol), or if they have been waiting more than six months for a sponsor (a heart), that child will have a symbol in the bottom left hand corner photo indicating this special need. However, this symbol will disappear once you sponsor that child. Is this what you are referring to?

      1. Kal January 14, 2014

        Hi Susan, Yes, that is the symbol I am referring to. My sponsored child had a blue zero (0) in the bottom left-hand corner of his photo, which disappeared after I became his sponsor. So I was wondering what the zero meant?

        1. Susan Sayler January 14, 2014

          Did the symbol in the bottom of the photo like this: http://www.evernote.com/shard/s253/sh/95f56011-424f-464c-9214-963cf13a1592/6c03403fa0e5524321dc4d584d6c6de9

          1. Kal January 14, 2014

            Could it have been an O for “orphan”? My sponsored child is an orphan.

          2. Kal January 14, 2014

            You know, it occurs to me that I found my sponsored child through a banner ad on a blog I was reading. I wonder if the symbol was some sort of tracker? Now if I could just remember what I was reading, I’d take another look at that blog as the ad is likely still there (though the child changes with each reload of the page).

          3. Kal January 14, 2014

            I’m sorry, but no. I wish now that I had taken a snapshot of the symbol I saw on my child’s photo. It looked like a zero.

  5. Lisa Miles May 14, 2013

    Welcome Emer Barata! What a blessing to have you on board. Many prayers and well-wishes for your little 4-year old in Peru. 🙂

  6. Emer Barata May 14, 2013

    Hello everyone! I just have my first sponsored child from Peru this month. He’s 4yrs old turning 5 in June. I hope, I will get more encouraging words from all of you and learn more about sponsoring. I will visit this site more often. God bless you all.

  7. Sharon May 25, 2012

    Hopefully everyone has done #10 on this list!

    When I sponsored my first child, I was afraid to pick for myself because I thought my reasons for choosing might be selfish, so I asked Compassion to decide and did not make specifications with regard to age, gender, or country. They gave me a 7 year old boy from East India and I have to say, he is just adorable.

    With my second child, I was pretty sure I wanted to sponsor in Africa, but couldn’t seem to narrow it down any further, until I saw a post by Compassion on Facebook about Rwanda during the genocide memorial week. So, Rwanda it was, and now I have an 8 year old girl from there.

    I also correspond with 4 others from different countries, and getting to know them has been a real privilege.

  8. Mouang December 19, 2011

    I am a new sponsor. I just committed to sponsoring three children on Tuesday, 20 December 2011.

    My Compassion brothers’ and sister’s (I am 22 years old so I prefer “sister” and “brothers” over “mom and kids” names are Agossou, 5, Togo, Lor-aedo, 7, Thailand, and Eyasu, 11, Ethiopia.

    I picked Lor-aedo because I was born in Thailand and have always wanted a little sister. I have a picture of myself as a kid in Thailand with a look similar to Lor-aedo in her photo so this helped me choose her out of the many. Then, I decided that I wanted to sponsor a boy as well so I picked Agossou. I also wanted to sponsor an older child who may be able to communicate more effectively so I picked Eyasu. The reason why I picked Africa is because I had to learn the countries, know their capitols and their location on the map and finally, I had to draw Africa according to a map as accurately as possible as a freshman in high school (I got an A+ for the assignment, lol) and this assignment/experience stuck with me throughout the years. It has given me a soft spot for Africa. I picked Agossou, Togo, specifically because I wanted someone from a country I don’t see on the news or ever hear about. I specifically picked Eyasu, Ethiopia because he is orphaned and his sweet smile drew me to him.

    I am beyond excited to start sponsoring them. I cannot wait to show them the world. I am fortunately enough to be able to send them post cards from all over the world due to my career.

  9. Liz December 11, 2011

    Also, Jose was one of the little ones who had been waiting 6 months more. We felt there was a real need and God showed that to be true.

  10. Liz December 11, 2011

    We chose our little guy in El Salvador because of his pants he was wearing in the photo! I forwarded the pictures of all the children (24) to choose from, to my son and asked him to pick one. He chose Jose and when I asked why he said ‘Because of those little pants he is wearing’. Amazingly enough, I had already hoped my son would choose Jose for the same reason! He is 7 years old and he looks like he is wearing his big brother’s pants which leads me to think he may not have had any nice pants of his own for the picture so he borrowed some. He is such a cute little guy… oh and I am a brand new sponsor.

  11. Susan December 11, 2011

    I had chosen a child who but hadn’t yet signed up to sponsor her while browsing the website at work and several days passed because I was still thinking and praying on being a sponsor since I was sitting on the fence about it for a few years and she still went unsponsored. The day I went to sign up to sponsor her, I checked and she was still there but I was busy and had to come back after lunch when I had more time. Lunchtime came and I went back to the Compassion page to finalize it and she was gone! someone else had already sponsored her. I was really upset the rest of the day and night. The next morning at work I went back and was looking for another little girl who I would sponsor in the same country of the Philippines and my eyes fell on Daphnie who I had also noticed on the pages when I was browsing others but kept passing her over until that morning when I clicked to sponsor her immediately as I didn’t want to risk losing her to another sponsor again. Now I am so glad I didn’t have my first choice, God had already chosen Daphnie for me :))

  12. Diane Van Pelt September 28, 2011

    God chose my current sponsored child for me. I had sponsored a young lady in Ecuador for several years and was on the way to meet her for the second time. Three weeks before the trip, I was notified that she had moved from the area and could not be found. I waited, praying that Compassion could loate her in time to arrange a meeting, but two days before the flight she had still not been found. Tickers had been purchased, hotel room arranged, I could not simply decide to not travel. And since I was traveling all that way I was going to spend a day with a child – somehow. I contacted the Tours department and asked them to find me a girl to visit of an age to appreciate the teen-intended gifts I had already purchased. They hunted and found exactly ONE teenaged girl in the area we would visit who was waiting for a sponsor. Only one. In an area where there are normally dozens. After meeting her it was obvious God’s hand was on the selection, as there are many reasons she is exactly the right young lady for me to sponsor. Everything from the planning of the triP onwards happened in such a way as to bring me to exactly this one child I needed who also needed someone exactly like me.

  13. Wendy September 28, 2011

    #2, then by country, then age, then gender.

  14. Suellen Maia August 24, 2011

    Here is the thing, I’m from Brazil, I lived in Uganda for a while, met a little girl and still get in touch with her, but would like to help her, is there any way to do it through compassion??

    1. Kees Boer August 24, 2011

      Hi, Suellen,

      Mmmmm….. there are a bunch of variables involved…. Compassion works with church partners, i.e. churches in Uganda and every other country for that matter. These churches have children come to their church where they host a student center. Children can register at these student centers up to the age of 9. Also, each center gets a certain number of children to register and they have to meet certain criteria, such as a certain stability and they truly have to be in need. So, the answer would be “Yes” if all of those criteria line up. So, the first thing I would do is try to find out where there is a student center in their area and if she can or wants to be registered there. Then you can help the child. But realize this that when you do help a child like this, you need to follow the Compassion guidelines, like no direct communication, etc….. So, you might be better of, just helping her straight away and suggesting to her to attend a student center, if she qualifies.

    2. Shaina Moats August 24, 2011

      We depend on the local church program to identify the neediest in their community and enroll them in the Compassion program. Ask her if the church she attends or if one of the churches in her community has a Compassion program. If so, she and her parents can the church to enroll her in the program.

  15. Clay Simpson June 8, 2011

    Our first child was posted on our Church bulletin board (have been very close friends with the couple who posted it since – 8 yrs ago even though they moved away – just an added blessing) Our second was chosen because our son wanted to write to someone his age, so we found a boy born one day after him in Burkina Faso. This experience has been very rewarding for our son.

  16. Pamela Smith June 6, 2011

    Our story of becoming a sponsor is on my blog: http://www.4Pam.wordpress.com. We are still waiting for our intro letter from our child, and it’s so exciting!

    1. Pamela Smith September 26, 2011

      Folks still come to see the story, but it has been buried on the page, so here is its specific hotlink: http://4pam.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/i-traded-my-starbucks-habit-for-a-child/

  17. Diane Nichols May 22, 2011

    First of all my husband and I felt led by God to sponsor girls as they are not as important in some countries as boys. Next because we have a special needs son, we looked for girls with special needs, next we looked for girls with large families who were living only with one parent or were orphans or vulnerable in other ways. We now have a total of 8 sponsored girls ).It didn’t matter to us what countries they were from so we have a regular United Nations of girls. Like others on this blog, I also look at the eyes, some of our girls at first didn’t smile, now most all of them have sent us pictures with them smiling. We just love them and look forward to all of their letters.

  18. Princess Leia May 20, 2011

    So far our two have been because of their birth dates. Milly (our first) was born on the exact day that four of my friends and co-workers were killed while we were all working in Iraq (March 15, 2004). I hope that Milly, whose life began on the same exact day that my friends’ lives ended, can redeem that day through her life and I hope to have a small part in that by providing for her as her sponsor. Someday, when she’s old enough to understand, I hope to share with her why we picked her.

    Our second was born on the same day as our oldest son (Jan 8, 2007). Someday I hope that AJ (our son) will take over the sponsorship of Isaac. Maybe a graduation gift for both would be to take a trip to meet him! And even though I’d literally been searching for _years_ to find a boy born on the same day as our son, somehow Isaac had been waiting for over six months when we found him!

    Eventually I also hope to find girls born on the same day as our girls (Joanna is 2 and Lucy is 8 weeks).

    Our CSP sponsorship is for a CSP in Haiti. We were hoping to link our MOPS group up with one that had been affected by the earthquake, but it has taken so long for the moderately and severely affected centers to recover (and be available for sponsorship) that we chose another Haiti site that was available last year at MOPS convention.

  19. Ruth May 19, 2011

    I’ve sponsored many children over 30 years. Many times I didn’t get to choose them because they were replacements for children who left sponsorship. Sometimes when I look through the photos of kids to sponsor, the Holy Spirit prompting is so strong to pick a certain child. It’s like the wind pushing me and I am obedient to the Spirit calling. When I get a chance to pick a child, I look at the child write-up to see if the child has a single parent, or being raised by grandparents or relatives. I also look at the child’s face and eyes. Misery shows in the eyes and stress shows in the face. Those children seem to need more urgent sponsorship. I also look at the number of siblings. I have two sponsor children with 14 siblings each! Although the child is the only one sponsored, the rest of the family is helped by the family gifts.

    Most important is to pray for God’s will – which child to choose. God will pick one for you to bless and it is such a HUGE blessing to be a sponsor!!

  20. Granma Pat May 18, 2011

    I like to check in on this blog—always interesting discussions! Our church had a Compassion Sunday in 2007. The table with child packets was crowded, so I accessed the web site at home and learned more about the program. One thing I learned was that if I sponsored, I did not want my child to lose their sponsor. Sponsored my first child from Ecuador where my husband and I had a good friend who had been an exchange student at his college. She was also the same age as 2 granddaughters who I hoped could “take over” if something happened to me (I was 69 at the time). Like so many others, I couldn’t stop with one. Have added older children and I hoped I would live long enough to complete sponsorship. ( Then was surprised how much I missed them when 2 graduated and one left the program!) My only boy has my son’s birthday; my girl from Peru has a granddaughter’s birthday, my latest girl from Indonesia has my birthday; my youngest child is 10 and has a granddaughter’s birthday. Thought I would “phase out” as they graduated, but seem to be holding at 8 children (have 5 biological children and 12 grandchildren). I love these children, get wonderful letters from them and they bless my life as much or more than I bless theirs.

  21. Andrew Z May 18, 2011

    I started with the idea of “greatest need” which led me to countries with the lowest GDP (i.e., the poorest and with the highest mortality rates), and then I chose Uganda because someone told me the kids write “good” letters. (Uganda has the sixth lowest GDP.) Then I picked one of the first kids shown: Kevin is four years old.

    I considered it would be harder to visit a child in African than Central America, but in the end that was not so important.

  22. Sherry W. May 18, 2011

    Great post! There have been some really interesting discussions at the Our Compassion site about how people choose a child. (Or in some cases, how a child chooses a sponsor ;-). It’s fun to read how people have become connected with their kids.

    One active discussion at OC right now is suggesting another way to choose a child: by Group Vote! I’m being advised by other OC members about sponsoring an older girl in Uganda. Have really enjoyed everyone’s input. And you know what? They are confirming what I’ve been thinking, too. Time for more prayer to be really sure!

    P.S. Now that we have 10 ways to choose a child, we need a blog on “10 Ways to Discern That God is Saying Yes”. 😉

    1. Chris Giovagnoni May 18, 2011

      Would you like to write it for us?

    2. Jacquie Parella May 18, 2011

      That’s a great idea!! The people on the OC are amazing! Too, I may need to think about that new post idea……hmmmmm…. 🙂 🙂

      1. Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies May 19, 2011

        Yes, OC is an amazing community!!

  23. Judith Tremblay May 17, 2011

    When I chose my first child, it was a narrowed-down search based on country and those waiting the longest. I browsed those who fit that category and sponsored the one that jumped out at me. (btw: the country was chosen because, at the time, I knew someone who was working in the country as a medical relief worker after a tsunami)

  24. Murray Lahn May 17, 2011

    We currently sponsor 7 kids through Compassion and two of our sons also sponsor kids, making a total of 10 kids. We came by them in various way, but a while ago I wrote a blog entry that kind of tells our story over the years. See http://murray.thelahnfamily.com/2010/11/how-did-we-get-started-with-compassion/ if you’re interested.

  25. Mike Stephens May 17, 2011

    There was a Compassion Sunday at my church and I chose the youngest child b/c I wanted to be able to sponsor them as long as possible. I think I actually got the 2nd youngest child b/c somebody beat me to the youngest. Then as I learned a little more I picked a child from each of the 4 different areas Compassion had countries in so I could visit all over the world. Then I added Indonesia b/c it seemed like such an interesting place being right on and by the equator. I am a correspondent with an LDP student from India, so I am hoping and planning to attend her graduation in 3-4 years!

    I think as my eyes become more and more opened, I am amazed at how many people are forgotten and left to die and fend for themselves without a lot of support that I consider “a given” I think that is one of the reasons I think Compassion is so amazing is b/c they go in and help people mainly kids at the outset, and it is so easy to identify b/c most everyone has had times when they needed a “little intervention” otherwise they wouldn’t have made it. But I guess that leaves the question still who to help?

    Jesus helped and helps us all, but we are commanded to help others also. But let me answer the question

    I chose by age, country, a little prayer I think was in there also, I browsed the website, and I think 100% of God’s POWER and SOVEREIGNTY finished me off 😉

    1. Kees Boer May 17, 2011

      I appreciate very much your heart for the children, Mike!!!!

  26. Christina Kaiser May 17, 2011

    I am a combo of 1 and 7! I knew I wanted to sponsor a child in Thailand-even though I have never been there, the culture and the people fascinate me. I also wanted an older child because those are sometimes ‘harder’ to get sponsored even though I think it is fun to communicate with someone that is a little older…the result? A 14 year-old girl. Her picture was the thing that drew me in though: she had a very solemn look on her face only revealing a spec of what she has probably been through. I hope to see an updated photo of her smiling one day…

  27. Jondremon May 17, 2011

    i think i must have used all 10 methods for my compassion family!

  28. Amber Van Schooneveld May 17, 2011

    We choose a child from India because my husband loves Ravi Zaccharias! Then we chose an older boy because everyone always seems to want young girls.

  29. Amy Sullivan May 17, 2011

    We read over profiles of children with our daughter, and let her pick someone close to her age. It helped the process seem more real, and it helped our daughter become more interested and involved.

  30. Jill Foley May 17, 2011

    We have done many of the suggestions you mentioned. Mostly I have let God design our Compassion family.

    I linked to two stories I’ve written about….one about meeting and sponsoring Emanuel in Peru and another about our birthday buddies.

    I could write many posts on how our Compassion family came to be and how each child has become so special to us.

  31. Katherine May 17, 2011

    I looked through the list of children on the Compassion site. My heart was moved when I saw the picture of my little girl, Clarisse, from Rwanda. She looked sad and scared. The next picture I received of her was still solemn, but she had grown into a beautiful young lady. The current picture I have on my fridge shows her with her goat herd, and huge grin on her face. I am humbled and blessed to be a part of her life.

  32. Kees Boer May 17, 2011

    If you decide that you also want to visit your child and money is an issue, you can evaluate where the child lives and avoid spending a lot of extra money. For instance, a friend of mine wrote me an email and wanted a child in the same city, so that when he went to visit one, he could visit the other one, without having to spend the extra expense of another in country flight…..

    I tend to focus in on Bolivia and with that, it really helps me to focus. For instance, I read alot of books about Bolivia and I learn a lot. This way I can relate better not to just one child, but to all the children. So, it creates a multiplied effect, which is with everything relating to the sponsorship that way. There are things that are general that I learn from one sponsorship, that I can apply in my understanding to the other sponsorship….. 🙂 Then I focus my advocacy on Bolivia too, which allows me to be more effective in finding sponsors for children from that country.

  33. JD May 17, 2011

    I wondered if there was a reason that in the U.S., you can search on the website for a child facing mental/physical challenges, orphaned or children affected by HIV/AIDS, or even simply by geographic region… but in Canada or other countries, these options aren’t available for search. Some countries do not allow you to search by birth date, etc.

    Will this become more consistent in the future? I appreciate that we have the access to the search in Canada at all, but prefer the U.S. website system.

    1. Aaron Armstrong May 18, 2011

      Hey JD – we definitely like the idea you’re suggesting at the Canadian office. It’s something we’d definitely like to look at as we go into building future versions of compassion.ca.

      As for why we don’t have it now, the short version is that when Canada developed our current site, this functionality wasn’t an option and we doesn’t presently have the volume of unsponsored children available to make this kind of feature helpful for potential sponsors (it would increase the potential for yielding no results in a search).

      I hope that helps!

    2. Jessica May 18, 2011

      I second this question.

    3. Debbie Beghetto May 18, 2011

      I agree with you. I’m from Canada . Sponsor 2 boys in Mexico.

  34. Brenda Grolle May 17, 2011

    Our child was the only one on the red heart list who was also handicapped.

  35. Lisa May 17, 2011

    I couldn’t possibly pick my own child… so I left it up to God! Story here: http://betweenthebigstuff.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/population-two/

  36. Chris Giovagnoni May 17, 2011

    I’m a one (by country) with a hint of randomness thrown in after that. I wanted a child in Kenya and ended up choosing Lerionga because of what he was wearing – a sweet Puma track jacket.

    I also chose my LDP student, Oziel, based on country – Guatemala.

    I chose Suzana because I wanted a child in a particular development center, so I guess that is country by extension.

  37. Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies May 17, 2011

    http://www.bloggingfromtheboonies.com/2010/09/how-they-grow.html This post tells of how we came to sponsor our first little girl in Ghana. It was the look on her face, her downcast eyes that drew me to her.

    I allowed my middle daughter to choose our second sponsored child. She wanted a girl about her age and found Bertille in Burkina Faso who was born a few weeks after my daughter was born.

    Compassion has connected us with our other 7 Compassion children, though I know that God knew exactly which children were to come into our family.

  38. Stephanie Green May 17, 2011


    This was wonderful- thank you! As an advocate, I love to work events and hear sponsor’s stories of how they chose their child. There is certainly a story behind the choice of each of my sponsored children! All proof that God connects people in this world who are meant to be together. I hope this encourages many potential sponsors in their decision making process.

  39. JD May 17, 2011

    There are many stories of how we chose each of our Compassion sons and daughters over the years… many are simple — one shared the birthday of our daughter who passed away, one was a child we met while on a Compassion mission trip, another was a child who God placed on my heart by name long before I found him…

    But there was one girl we chose because of her hair color… strange as that seemed at the time, God had a plan. I blogged about it here:


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