Apologies in advance. This one goes over the 500 word limit and has some really strong opinions on some really sensitive issues. Feel free to either read after the jump or move on to something less long and volatile.
I also add that I know many MANY transracial and overseas adoptions that have turned out fantastically well. My cousin Matthew Brandenberger; Jason and Cathy Sparks; many others in a list too long to name. I don’t have a problem with adoption in general and don’t want to see all adoption outlawed. Please don’t read any further without that fixed squarely in your mind.
If there is one thing I’m certain of, it’s that I am an individual. I do align with certain philosophies, chosen because I like the philosophy. I’m a Christian, I’m a Mennonite, I’m a libertarian, I’m a feminist, I’m a blogger. There are other groups I’ve been thrown into be default because of a choice I’ve made or one that was made for me by the forces outside. I’m disabled, I’m childfree, I’m fat, I’m a brunette.
Those are all terms I can use to quickly describe my position on one thing or another, but none of them have my utter allegiance. The only two things which have my complete devotion are that I am a Christ-follower* and I am the wife of my husband.
People are too eager to be on teams, I think. I suppose it comes with a different personality type that veers sharply away from my natural introversion. Because I don’t understand the impulse I can’t really say that the desire to belong to a team is a bad thing. I don’t have it myself, but I also don’t have a penis and penises aren’t bad things.
The problem that I’m having with this whole “I’m Team Conservative!” attitude is deftly illustrated by the recent conversations following Kathryn Joyce’s article in a respected national magazine. Joyce is a journalist who covers social trends; her latest book, The Child Catchers is about the social trend of Evangelical Christians adopting from overseas. The magazine article excerpted a portion of that book, telling the story of a family who had adopted a half-dozen children (yes, six. 6) from Liberia. The story didn’t end well; from my perspective it didn’t begin well either, as the children were collected trophies, not well-planned family additions.
I first heard that this was a Team Christian issue on Mike Duran’s blog. It’s been an issue of some concern to me for awhile as I’ve watched people in the revival meeting altar-call emotional high allow their judgment to lapse and bring home multiple children with serious physical and emotional needs. When you’re infertile you tend to have more exposure to the adoption world and the adoption process even when you don’t choose it yourself. You can tell the difference between “we are called to adopt”; “I guess we’ll adopt since we can’t have our own babies**”; “AWWW!!Cute Children need homes!! Let’s take that one!!”
I can pretty much guarantee you after twenty years of watching just how each family group will turn out. It’s one of the reasons I’m adamant that this nonsense about asking people to donate to your adoption fund as if they were donating to your mission trip needs to stop. One of the tests for parenting is whether or not you are prepared for the responsibility. If you can’t handle the basic start-up costs that says you can’t handle the long-term grind. Take out a loan. Sell your second car. Stop eating in restaurants. Whatever…just pay for it yourself. I don’t care that some popular Christian singer has adopted 15 kids and tells everyone that Adoption Is the responsibility of all Christians. That’s a popular singer with his own agenda, he’s not God. And yes, the kids are really cute. Just like puppies and kittens–and you can’t take every one of those home either.
I’ve watched kids get sent back to their “real countries”. I’ve watched kids get sent to jail by their adoptive parents for stealing. I’ve watched kids be brought into homes because their special needs entitle the adoptive parents to benefit checks from SSI and they like the extra income, using it for clothes and cars and not the additional medical help the child’s health requires. I know of one family who murdered their adoptive child by trying to pray for a cure for the serious health problem because they couldn’t pay for a cure. The least of these is exactly how these children are treated. They are not viewed as humans but as trophies, and receive about as much care.
Further is the problem that the legalities of the adoption process aren’t always entirely clear to the parents (yes, many of the adoptees HAVE parents) of the adopted kids. There are many parents in foreign countries who think this is a new version of Child Sponsoring and that their children are on a sort of scholarship to the US and remain THEIR CHILDREN.
I was delighted to see Kathryn Joyce’s article because I thought to myself “now maybe people will pay closer attention to this.” It has seemed over the last 10 years like the children weren’t on the radar of anyone with the ability to affect change to the system.
Apparently I thought wrong. Because that respected national magazine I mentioned earlier isn’t respected by everyone. Mother Jones is a publication taken seriously by those on the Left, reviled by those on the right.
So are people reading the story and becoming horrified that these shady adoptions and child abuses are not only allowed to continue but allowed to continue in the name of Jesus?
No. People are pulling on the shoulder pads and the numbered jerseys (that all say “1”) and deciding that The Left Hates Christians and Mother Jones is trying to make Christians look bad.
Not one tear for the actual children who were brought to this country as slaves, whipped with pieces of pipe and sent back to Liberia when they became inconvenient.
No. It’s all about Joyce’s agenda, Mother Jones‘ agenda.
Me? I want to know three things:
1. Why does it matter that someone on the Left pointed this out?
2. Why does no one seem to care about the giant mass of muck so many of these “evangelistic” adoptions have turned into?
3. Why wasn’t this article in Christianity Today five years ago?
Gang, the problem is NOT with the fact that “the other side is making us look bad.” We can do that on our own.
The problem is with the fact that we aren’t doing better, that we are allowing Team Allegiance to have superiority over following Christ.
*Christ-follower is different than Christian.
**Anyone who frames adoption like this–like a consolation prize–gets special irritation from me. These are human beings. If you aren’t prepared to treat the child as YOUR OWN BABY then just walk away.