Adoption As Ministry

For a while, Scott and I were very seriously looking into international adoption. We decided not to pursue it further for a number of reasons, but most of those reasons boiled down to widespread corruption in the system.  We couldn’t be sure, 100% positive, that any child we adopted from overseas was truly free for adoption. Even in China, where there are so many abandoned baby girls, there were scandals about kidnapped babies and corrupt orphanage directors lining their pockets. In other countries, parents may not fully understand what’s happening when they relinquish their children for adoption. They believe their kids will be cared for until the parents are able to take them back, only to discover later that their children have been sent out of country with strangers. In other cases, babies are purchased from young mothers who are pressured into giving up their children. The stories go on and on and the more we learned, the more we realized this wasn’t a system we wanted to be involved in.

We gave up our international adoption quest several years ago, but even then I could see that it was beginning to be filled with a lot of fundamentalist Christians. Message boards I read had growing numbers of prospective adopters who discussed their pending adoptions the same way they would talk about missionary work. They were in this less to provide children with parents and more to create new little soldiers for their god. So it was without surprise that I read this article in Mother Jones about the growing Evangelical adoption obsession.

“The ultimate purpose of human adoption by Christians,” author Dan Cruver wrote in his 2011 book, Reclaiming Adoption, “is not to give orphans parents, as important as that is. It is to place them in a Christian home that they might be positioned to receive the gospel.” At an adoption summit hosted by the Christian Alliance for Orphans at Southern California’s Saddleback Church, pastor Rick Warren told followers, “What God does to us spiritually, he expects us to do to orphans physically: be born again and adopted.”

The current adoption boom seems to be from African countries, where children traumatized by war and atrocity flood into orphanages. The worst part about all of this is that the agencies involved in placing children in questionable adoptions from these countries, where there is little oversight regarding out of country adoptions, aren’t properly preparing parents for dealing with kids who have such deep emotional trauma. People are showing up in country saying, “I have this much money, how many can you give me?” and end up coming back to the US with three or four or more deeply scarred children all at once. These agencies and facilitators push the “love is enough” principle, telling parents all they need to do is love these kids and that will be enough to overcome the horror they’ve seen in their short little lives. It’s never that easy and these adoptions end up failing. That’s when we hear stories about adopted kids dying from bizarre punishments or being sent back to their home countries with a hundred bucks in their pockets and the clothes on their backs.

It’s a bad situation that appears to be getting worse. The US is a Hague Adoption Convention country and I think the state department needs to pay closer attention to all incoming adoptions to ensure the safety of all involved.