Kathryn Joyce, author of the acclaimed book “The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption,” has an important editorial in the New York Times today (9/22/2013). Here it is: “The Evangelical Orphan Boom.”
For too long, well-meaning Americans have brought their advocacy and money to bear on an adoption industry that revolves around Western demand. Adoption can be wonderful when it’s about finding the right family for a child who is truly in need, but it can also be tragic and unjust if it involves deception, removes children from their home countries when other options are available, or is used as a substitute for addressing the underlying problems of poverty and inequality. We can no longer be blind to the collateral damage that good intentions bring.
This is tough stuff. There are children around the globe who need safe, loving families. We have to be sure that adoptions are transparent and genuinely necessary, and that adoption is truly the best way to help a child.
Let’s keep the conversation going. Thank you, Kathryn, for asking hard questions.
Being grateful is an adult skill. One that I myself haven’t mastered myself. I’m always complaining about my husband, my job, etc. How often do I stop to count my blessings? Hardly ever.
Expecting adopted kids to be grateful is expecting them to master an adult skill, just because they are adopted. That’s all kinds of messed up.
I just downloaded this book and can’t put it down. It’s horrifying, especially as it relates to disruptions in adoption. A family has to have realistic expectations to begin with, and “saving” children seems to come with the expectation they should be grateful to you. I think this goes hand in hand with “obedience” so often rampant in evangelical homes. These are human beings with unique experiences and from a variety of situations, both domestically and internationally. Heck, even biological kids aren’t grateful or obedient! But these expectations can quickly put families in situations they aren’t prepared for (but should be). Sometimes the tough times come quickly, and sometimes not at all. I’ve always thought it was a gift, knowing right from the beginning what it takes some biological parents years to find out–these kids are born as their own unique selves. I guess some APs don’t figure this out either. That’s why you have situations like Hanna Williams and many more just like her, reported and unreported. Two of our girls adopted as older kids were “perfectly fine” for two years into placement, and then kaboom, it all went crazy. Every kid is different and how they manage their grief and loss is different. It’s our job as parents to be there and support them. You can’t let your ego get in the way. You have to be willing to grow and change to meet your kids’ needs. I am definitely looking for ways to get more involved in adoption reform. So much needs to be done.
I don’t think this is new. The reason I believe this is that in the 1980’s a friend’s child was in temporary foster care. She was placed with an evangelical family, not a problem at he time. She was old enough to understand why she was not with her mother (her parents were divorced), who had not taken good care of her. But she could not understand why she couldn’t be with her dad. This family told her it was because “he wasn’t saved”. Uh, no, not the reason at all, and they shouldn’t have said that. There was a complaint made about them saying that, but before the complaint was looked into, they gave her back because they were really looking to adopt and had been told (more than once!) she was not up for adoption. Later, someone familiar with them, and the church they attended, told the family that these people were part of an evangelical movement to adopt children to “save” them. That really bothered me because, in my view, the reason you should adopt is because you want to give a child in need a loving home. It looks like to me that this movement changed to other countries because maybe they could do what they felt was their duty, easier. I don’t know. But I still feel they are misguided and wrong to adopt children for this purpose. If you adopt a child because you want a child, will give them the love and support they need, that should be your primary purpose. Converting them to your religion may be important to you, but should not be your number one priority. Just my opinion.