Evangelicals and Orphans: Who Is Being Saved?

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.”

A quote:

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.


Child Catchers and One (Surprising) Christian Response

There is a maelstrom occurring in the world of adoption just now. One bit of thunder is the debate in churches and across the Internet about orphans, widows, Jesus, and Kathryn Joyce’s new book Child Catchers: Rescue Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption. 

I understand if evangelical Christians feel defensive while reading Child Catchers. The picture painted is difficult to view.

Caleb David is the co-founder of the One Child Campaign, whose mission is “to raise awareness in the body of Christ for the orphan crisis and to provide ways for each person to touch and change the life of at least one child through Orphan awareness trips and other holistic methods.” There’s a photo of a sad, big-eyed child of color on the web site. Caleb is also the adoptive father of two children from Ethiopia–and a friend of Kathryn Joyce.

Caleb was a recent guest writer on the Kingdom in the Midst (Christian–“living in and looking for the kingdom of God”) blog. His perspective may surprise you.

One quote (and please read the whole post): “…friends, there ARE major problems with how we view adoption, orphan care, and poverty. Just being an adoptive family does not make us experts on the complex socio-economic issues of our children’s birth countries.”

As much as it is stirring lots up, Child Catchers might also spread patriarchal leanings, white privilege, sincere efforts, hidden cash, facts and lies, tragic stories, and viable possibilities out on the lawn for us to pick through in sunshine. There’s a big mess to deal with, but I am hopeful the time has arrived for us to look carefully at motivations behind adoption, and the realities that occur as a result–and especially what we can do to repair the damage and prevent future destruction. Deep breaths and deep listening go a long way sometimes.